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Fed Court Rules For Navajo Head Start

Fed Court Rules For Navajo Head Start
March 28
08:41 2018

A federal court rules Tuesday that Navajo Head Start is entitled to its full funding.

Last week Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed an emergency bill that would have provided $6.3 million to the program. The money was meant to keep Head Start open despite a recent setback in court.

On Feb. 28, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied the Navajo Nation’s preliminary injunction. However, Tuesday the federal court set aside the federal Office of Head Start reduction and required full funding of the Navajo Head Start program.

The program’s full funding is $23 million.

“We applaud the federal court for making sure the federal government provides proper notice, appeal and hearing rights are afforded before reducing any funding that impacts the cognitive development of our children,” Begaye said

Head Start had sought an injunction to prevent the National Head Start program from lopping more than $6 million from the Navajo program’s $23 million budget.

National Head Start is funded through the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The national program justified its actions by pointing out that Navajo Head Start still had unspent funds.

Begaye dismissed that argument as “misleading.”

The court denied the tribe’s injunction request in February, noting that Navajo Head Start was no facing irreparable harm due to the budget cut. On Tuesday the same court ruled on the merits of the Navajo suit.

Tuesday’s federal ruling reinforced the need for the federal government to provide notice, appeal and hearing rights to the Navajo Nation before enforcing a reduction of funding.

“When the U.S. District Court failed to grant the preliminary injunction, we felt the decision was unfair,” Navajo Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “President Russell Begaye and I remained vigilant in holding the federal government responsible to providing a fair and justified allocation to Navajo Head Start.”


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