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LAMPKIN v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

May 4, 1995

BRENDA LAMPKIN, as legal guardian of Jessica Lampkin and Christine Lampkin, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROYCE C. LAMBERTH

 This matter comes before the court on defendants' motion of March 21, 1995 to vacate the court's order dated March 7, 1995. After considering the filings and oral argument of counsel, and for the reasons more fully set forth below, the court hereby dissolves the injunction issued in its March 7 order, while denying the motion to vacate the order itself.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiffs are homeless mothers in their capacity as legal guardians for their school-age children. They sought prompt provision of educational services, including transportation to and from school, for homeless children in the District of Columbia. On March 7, 1995, the court determined that defendants had violated the McKinney Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11432(e)(3), (8) & (9), by failing to address educational needs of homeless children in a timely fashion; and that defendants had violated 42 U.S.C. §§ 11432(e)(1)(G) & (9) by failing to provide homeless children with access to adequate transportation to and from school.

 Injunctive relief was structured to require the District of Columbia (a) to identify homeless children at the time they first arrive at an intake center, and refer these children within 72 hours for requisite educational services, including transportation; (b) to offer bus tokens to all homeless children who travel more than 1.5 miles to attend primary or secondary school; (c) to offer tokens to a homeless parent or other designated adult escort who accompanies a homeless child to or from school; and (d) to eliminate any delays occasioned by once-a-week distribution of tokens at homeless shelters. On March 25, 1995, the court denied defendants' motion to stay the March 7 order. Meanwhile, the District has taken steps to comply with the injunction.

 II. ISSUES

 Defendants contend in support of their motion to vacate, that the District, by letter from the superintendent of Schools to the U.S. Department of Education, has withdrawn from the McKinney Act Education Program effective March 20, 1995. Accordingly, say defendants, there is no longer a continuing obligation by the District to provide education services to homeless families under the provisions of the McKinney Act relied upon by plaintiffs in this lawsuit.

 Plaintiffs raise two objections. First, they argue that the D.C. Code prohibits the District from withdrawing from the McKinney Act Education Program. D.C. Code § 3-206.3(a), until its recent amendment, provided in relevant part that:

 
The Mayor is authorized to operate an Emergency Shelter Family Program [ESFP], which shall claim federal financial participation to the extent allowable by law for housing assistance and services to homeless families with minor children. (emphasis added).

 Similarly, D.C. Code § 3-602.1(e) provided:

 Because defendants do in fact operate an ESFP, plaintiffs allege that the District must continue its McKinney Act participation for the remainder of this year, and must apply for federal assistance in future years.

 Plaintiffs' second argument against vacating the March 7 order is that the court should use its equitable powers to enforce the March 7 injunction as a remedy for the past wrongs of the District. These past violations of the McKinney Act, assert plaintiffs, warrant the continued enforcement of the court's order for the remainder of the school year -- even if the District is no longer obligated to conform to McKinney Act directives.

 In response, defendants maintain that all of the plaintiffs are now receiving the educational services that they sought in their complaint. If so, there is no further relief to be awarded. Because this lawsuit is not a class action, defendants contend that plaintiffs do not have standing to seek relief on behalf of unnamed parties. However, one of the plaintiffs, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, is an organization whose functions include helping homeless people obtain federal and local public assistance. Plaintiffs insist that such an ...


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