Miss. drops demand for bond in child care lawsuit

August 28, 2013 9:23:02 AM



JACKSON -- Mississippi officials have withdrawn their demand for a child care center owner who's fighting state rules to post a $1.67 million bond. 


Hinds County Chancery Judge Denise Owens ruled against the Mississippi Department of Human Services on Aug. 15, blocking the state's plan to require some parents to use a finger scanner to sign children in and out of federally subsidized child care. 


Four days later, DHS lawyer Doug Miracle wrote to Owens asking that she order plaintiff Delores Suel to put up a bond to cover the losses of the state and its contractors if Owens' injunction was later overturned. He estimated those losses would cost $208,249 a month for eight months, coming to a total of $1.67 million. 


Miracle withdrew the request Tuesday, telling Owens that DHS officials now agree such a bond is inappropriate, after Suel pointed out that she had won a two-day trial. Owens blocked the program with a temporary injunction, which can require a plaintiff to post security to cover losses. Suel's lawyer, Lisa Ross, noted that precedents say that after a trial, such bonds are no longer needed. 


Owens said she'd issue a permanent injunction by the end of the week, which would clear the way for the state to appeal. 


"I guess we'll be headed to the Supreme Court or they'll have to make a decision," Ross said after the hearing. 


Miracle told the judge that in addition to the finger-scanning program aimed at child-care centers that get federal subsidies, the state has also shut down a program it had already implemented that required parents to check their children in and out of subsidized home cares by phone. Miracle said the state has also shut down a voluntary finger-scanning pilot program. 


He said the state plans to ask that it be allowed to resume operating those programs during an appeal.