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Ohio Head Start Ass'n, Inc. v. United States Dept. of Health and Human Services

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 5, 2012

OHIO HEAD START ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al., Defendants.

Page 62

Edward T. Waters, Robert Arthur Graham, Susannah Clayton Vance, Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, LLP, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs.

Brad P. Rosenberg, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, District Judge.

Pursuant to a congressional directive, in 2011, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (" HHS" ) promulgated regulations requiring low-performing grantees to compete for five-year grants, rather than receive automatic renewal of their grants under the Head Start program. The Plaintiffs, four not-for-profit membership corporations that provide services to community action agencies receiving Head Start grants, filed suit alleging the so-called Designation Renewal System is unconstitutional and violates the Administrative Procedures Act. The Court rejected the Plaintiffs' challenges, and entered

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final judgment in favor of the Defendants on July 9, 2012, 873 F.Supp.2d 335 (D.D.C.2012). Nearly two months after the entry of final judgment and one month after filing their notice of appeal, the Plaintiffs now ask the Court to bar HHS from implementing the Designation Renewal System while Plaintiffs' appeal is pending. Upon consideration of the parties' pleadings, [1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record before the Court, the Court finds the Plaintiffs failed to show an injunction pending appeal is warranted in this case. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' [33] Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal is DENIED.[2]

I. BACKGROUND

The Court detailed the factual background and rule making process at length in its prior memorandum opinion, and incorporates by reference that discussion herein. 7/9/12 Mem. Opin., at 339-44. In short, Head Start is a national program that provides health, educational, nutritional, and other services to children of low income families in order to promote school readiness. Admin. Record (" A.R." ) 03326 (DRS Final Rule). In some locations, umbrella agencies receive Head Start grants, but delegate the provision of actual services to member agencies. A.R. 00284 (Oct. 2008 Advisory Comm. Report). In this case, the members of the Plaintiff organizations, known as community action agencies, receive grants directly from the Head Start program. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2-5. Regardless of the grant structure, the agency responsible for directly providing services is known as a " Head Start agency." A.R. 03345 (DRS Final Rule). In order to monitor the quality of services provided by grantees and delegate agencies, the Head Start program conducts four types of reviews (1) reviews of newly designated Head Start agencies following the first year of providing services; (2) triennial reviews, evaluating each Head Start agency at least once during a three year period; (3) follow-up reviews of Head Start agencies found to have at least one deficiency or significant areas of non-compliance; and (4) unannounced on-site visits. 42 U.S.C. § 9836a(c)(1); see also 42 U.S.C. § 9836a(c)(2) (detailing the composition of review teams and areas of assessment). On-site reviews may lead to identification of two types of violations: deficiencies and non-compliances. A deficiency is defined as

(A) A systemic or substantial material failure of an agency in an area of performance that the Secretary determines involves—
(i) a threat to the health, safety, or civil rights of children or staff;
(ii) a denial to parents of the exercise of their full roles and responsibilities related to program operations;
(iii) a failure to comply with standards related to early childhood development and health services, family and community partnerships, or program design and management;
(iv) the misuse of funds received under this subchapter;
(v) loss of legal status (as determined by the Secretary) or financial viability, loss of permits, debarment from receiving Federal grants or contracts, or the improper use of federal funds; or

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(vi) failure to meet any other Federal or State requirement that the agency has shown an unwillingness or inability to correct, after notice from the Secretary, within the period specified;
(B) systemic or material failure of the governing body of an agency to fully exercise its legal and ...

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