Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten after Federal Judge Holds Betsy DeVos Accountable for Public Service Loan Forgiveness Debacle
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten released the following statement after United States District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich issued an opinion in Weingarten v. DeVos, a lawsuit filed by eight AFT members, Weingarten and the national union in July 2019, alleging gross mismanagement and out-and-out sabotage of the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The judge ruled that AFT members can proceed on their due process claims.
“This decision is a big deal. It means that Betsy DeVos can finally be held directly accountable for the shameful Public Service Loan Forgiveness debacle that’s occurred on her watch. Instead of shirking responsibility, the secretary now has to answer to the students she’s blamed and dismissed, while denying them the debt relief they’re entitled to under the law. When borrowers are subjected to unfairness, they have recourse to right it—and their union can help them.
“This isn’t only about the technical errors—Judge Friedrich is saying Betsy DeVos must answer AFT members’ allegations that she flagrantly ignored the hurt and harm perpetuated on millions of teachers, first responders and public servants across the nation. Now, no matter their loan servicer, borrowers have a pathway to seek the loan forgiveness they’re entitled to—but that DeVos and her department have been so eager to avoid. And as to the AFT’s associational rights to sue on behalf of our members, we will be supporting them through this case regardless of whether a court gives us standing or not.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.