United States District Court, District of Columbia
ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS OF GREATER WASHINGTON, et al., Plaintiffs,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.
E. BOASBERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Memorandum Opinion and separate Order issued last April, this
Court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs - the
Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington
(AISGW), the River School, and two individual teachers - on
their claim that a D.C. drug- and alcohol-testing policy
pertaining to employees of childcare facilities violated the
Fourth Amendment. See Ass'n of Indep. Sch. of Greater
Washington v. D.C., 2018 WL 1972459 (D.D.C. Apr. 26,
2018). The Court determined that the random drug-testing
requirements imposed by the District's Office of the
State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) on nursery-school
teachers were unlawful, as they did “not fit within the
closely guarded category of constitutionally permissible
suspicionless searches.” Id. at *12. The Court
therefore granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment
and ordered that OSSE “shall not enforce its random,
suspicionless drug- and alcohol-testing policies against
Plaintiffs.” ECF No. 29 (Order). Dissatisfied with this
outcome and alleging that the Court failed to address certain
of Plaintiffs' original claims, the District now moves to
alter the judgment. Finding the majority of Defendants'
assertions to be without merit, the Court will largely
preserve its prior Opinion and Order intact.
suit was initiated in September 2016 as a response to the
District's policy requiring the random, suspicionless
drug testing of employees of childcare facilities. See
AISGW, 2018 WL 1972459, at *3. Plaintiffs are an
association that includes such entities; one of its member
schools, the River School; and Katherine Brebbia and Lauren
Walence, two River School teachers. Collectively, Plaintiffs
opposed the imposition of the testing requirement, which was
enacted pursuant to a 2004 statue, the Child and Youth Safety
and Health Omnibus Amendment Act, which introduced random
drug and alcohol testing for those employees in
“safety-sensitive positions.” Id. at *1.
Almost a decade later, in 2013, OSSE used its implementing
authority under the Act to categorize the personnel of
child-development facilities as “safety-sensitive,
” thus subjecting them to random, suspicionless
urinalysis. Id. at 2.
being informed by OSSE that it would be required to comply
with this new requirement, the River School issued a series
of objections to the policy from April 2014 through June
2015, repeatedly informing the Office that it would not adopt
random drug testing of its employees. Id. After much
back and forth, River was ultimately informed that acceptance
of the policy was a condition of its OSSE licensure, and, on
January 11, 2016, it received a Notice of Intent to Revoke
its child-development-center license for failure to
“establish mandatory drug and alcohol testing policies
and procedures that are consistent with the requirements of
District law for safety-sensitive employees.”
Id. at *3. Faced with this penalty, the School
“adopted a drug and alcohol testing policy that
included random testing, ” as did the other eight AISGW
member schools that hold OSSE licenses as child-development
AISGW and River continued to object to the random-search
requirement, and, having failed to reach a resolution with
OSSE, they brought the instant suit. Plaintiffs'
Complaint alleged that requiring child-development facilities
to implement a random drug- and alcohol-testing policy was a
violation of (1) the Fourth Amendment and (2) the District of
Columbia's Administrative Procedure Act (DCAPA).
See ECF No. 1 (Complaint), ¶¶ 52-56. As
relief for these alleged violations, Plaintiffs requested a
declaratory judgment that “the implementation and
enforcement of OSSE's random drug- and alcohol-testing
requirement violates Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment
rights” and the DCAPA, an injunction “prohibiting
OSSE from enforcing its drug and alcohol testing requirement
against Plaintiffs, ” and “[m]ake-whole relief,
including but not limited to damages.” Id. at
past spring, the Court granted summary judgment on the basis
of Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim and enjoined
Defendants from enforcing the random-testing requirement
against them. See ECF No. 29 (Order). The
Court's Opinion concluded that, although the District had
a “sincere” interest in protecting the welfare of
young children, such governmental motivation did not
“rise to the level of immediacy or concreteness needed
to justify the random, suspicionless testing of
nursery-school teachers.” AISGW, 2018 WL
1972459, at *12. The Court therefore found that such
personnel could not “be subjected to random,
suspicionless searches as a condition of their employment,
” id., and that Plaintiffs were
“entitled to judgment as a matter of law on [their]
constitutional claim.” Id. at *7.
24, the District filed a Motion to Alter the Court's
Judgment, see ECF No. 32 (Motion), which Plaintiffs
subsequently opposed. See ECF No. 34 (Response). The
Court now turns to Defendants' arguments regarding
various alleged errors in its prior Opinion and Order.
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) permits the filing of a motion
to alter or amend a judgment when such motion is filed within
28 days after the judgment's entry. The Court must apply
a “stringent” standard when evaluating Rule 59(e)
motions. See Ciralsky v. CIA, 355 F.3d 661, 673
(D.C. Cir. 2004). “A Rule 59(e) motion is discretionary
and need not be granted unless the district court finds that
there is an intervening change of controlling law, the
availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear
error or prevent manifest injustice.” Firestone v.
Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted); see also 11
C. Wright & A. Miller, Fed. Prac. & Proc.
Civ. § 2810.1 at 158-62 (3d ed. 2012) (stating that
the “four basic grounds” for Rule 59(e) motion
are “manifest errors of law or fact, ”
“newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence,
” “prevent[ion of] manifest injustice, ”
and “intervening change in controlling law”).
Critically, Rule 59(e) “is not a vehicle to present a
new legal theory that was available prior to judgment.”
Patton Boggs LLP v. Chevron Corp., 683 F.3d 397, 403
(D.C. Cir. 2012).
seeking alteration, Defendants raise three points. First,
they contend that the Court “did not address whether
the District violated Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment
rights.” Mot. at 4. Second, they posit that the Court
also did not “find municipal liability under [42 U.S.C.
§] 1983, ” and third, they state that it did not
“resolve the DCAPA claim.” Id. at 4-5.
Taken together, Defendants argue that these alleged lacunae
in the Court's Opinion constituted error, as it
“enter[ed] final judgment for Plaintiffs without
resolving all claims in the litigation.” Id.
at 5. The Court takes each of these assertions separately.
District's first basis for alteration is perhaps its most
puzzling. Defendants posit that the Court erred in finding
that the OSSE suspicionless-search policy violated the Fourth
Amendment because Plaintiffs never established that they
were, in fact, “searched.” Mot. at 8. Under the
District's theory of the Fourth Amendment, the
proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures is
“only implicated when a ‘search' has
occurred.” Id. at 6. In this case, ...