Blackburn, Cassidy Launch Inquiry Into Department Of Education’s Reported Lax Telework Policies

May 1, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) today sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, requesting clarification on his agency’s current telework policies.

Despite An End To The COVID Public Health Emergency, Department Of Education Employees Are Reportedly Still Allowed To Extensively Telework

“As you know, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on May 11, 2023. However, according to recent reports, U.S. Department of Education (DeptEd) employees are still being allowed to work extensively from home, much as they did during the pandemic. We write to confirm these reports and ascertain the status of the current telework policies, as well as your plan for returning DeptEd employees to work.”

While Maintaining Lax Telework Policies, The Department Of Education Has Faced Issues With FAFSA And Failed To Adequately Support Jewish Students In The Face Of Rising Antisemitism

“DeptEd’s lax telework policies are especially concerning given its apparent inability to fulfill its statutory responsibilities. The 2024/2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been fraught with issues… Rather than take responsibility for not adequately communicating with colleges, DeptEd has attempted to shift blame to schools, which is wholly unacceptable. DeptEd also exhibited a delayed response to the rise in antisemitism on primary, secondary, and post-secondary school campuses in the wake of the October 7th terrorist attacks in Israel. In a November 2023 HELP Committee roundtable, students stated that DeptEd failed to provide support when they faced harassment on college campuses.”

The Department Of Education Would Be More Efficient And Effective If Their Workforce Were Fully Present In Person

“We argue, with good reason, that your agency would be mired in fewer issues if your workforce were fully present in person. As Congress begins the process of working through Fiscal Year 2025 appropriations, we believe it is critical to determine your agency’s current telework policies in order to make informed decisions about DeptEd’s budget.”

Click here to view the letter to Secretary Cardona.