noted above, any significant change to an existing system presents a risk to some number of individual migratory students. For the following reasons, the court concludes that the plaintiffs have failed to establish a sufficiently grave threat of harm to the plaintiff class.
First, it is clear that the MSRTS is an imperfect system. Congress has taken note of its many shortcomings, and has encouraged the Secretary to investigate possible alternative systems. See 20 U.S.C. § 6398(b). Although it is clear that no other comprehensive system exists for facilitating the transfer of migratory students' records, the Secretary and the states have been working to implement a variety of other record transfer methods. While these alternative methods may not be fully implemented at this time, and while they may not be as comprehensive as the MSRTS, it is clear that the discontinuation of the MSRTS in no way signals the end of federal and state efforts to ensure the timely transfer of migratory students' records. Nor does the court find any reason to believe that either the Secretary or the states intend to avoid their obligations in this regard.
Second, the Secretary represents that he intends to release the sum of $ 2 million, which would otherwise be spent on the MSRTS, directly to the states. In the Secretary's opinion, this money would be more effectively spent by the states in developing alternative records transfer systems than in continuing to fund the MSRTS, a system which the Secretary considers to be largely ineffective. The court is disinclined to second-guess the Secretary's conclusion on this matter. Thus, to the extent that the states spend the money on alternative records transfer systems, it would appear that the harm to the plaintiff class occasioned by the discontinuation of the MSRTS is likely to be mitigated, to some extent, by the reallocation of money from the MSRTS program directly to the states themselves.
Finally, the nature of the harm alleged is simply not of a kind which might counterbalance the plaintiffs' weak showing of likelihood of success on the merits. This is not a situation where the very subject matter of the litigation will be damaged, destroyed, or irretrievably lost if the court does not act now. While some harm may befall individual class members as a result of the discontinuation of the MSRTS, it simply does not appear that the class itself is threatened with the kind of dire, irreversible harm which might otherwise persuade the court to grant the extraordinary relief sought by the plaintiffs. For these reasons, the court finds that plaintiffs have failed to make a sufficient showing of irreparable harm.
C. The Harm to Other Parties and Public Interest
By the very nature of his position, the Secretary of Education represents the public interest; thus, the last two elements of the preliminary injunction inquiry essentially merge into one.
As set forth at greater length above, the court finds that Congress has conferred upon the Secretary substantial discretion to implement Congress' goals with respect to the educational needs of migrant children. The court finds no reason to conclude that the Secretary's decision to discontinue the MSRTS was arbitrary, capricious or taken in bad faith. To the contrary, the Secretary has amply demonstrated his belief that the MSRTS system has become cumbersome and inefficient and ought to be terminated. Accordingly, the court finds that the public interest would certainly not be served by this court's precipitous interference with a decision which has been committed by Congress to the Secretary's own discretion.
The plaintiffs have failed to establish that they have a substantial chance of success on the merits. In fact, the court has concluded that the plaintiffs' chances of succeeding on the merits are quite slim. Nor have plaintiffs demonstrated the existence of an irreparable injury which might overcome this weak showing on the merits. Finally, the court finds that the public interest militates against the issuance of an injunction under the present circumstances. Accordingly, plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction will be denied. A separate order shall issue this date.
Royce C. Lamberth
United States District Judge
This case comes before the court on plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. For the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum opinion, the motion for preliminary injunction is hereby DENIED.
Royce C. Lamberth
United States District Judge