2021 News Releases

AG Derek Schmidt sues Biden administration over new federal vaccine mandate for Head Start programs

Release Date: Dec 21, 2021

TOPEKA – (December 21, 2021) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today filed a federal lawsuit challenging the new federal vaccine mandate for Head Start programs, arguing that the mandate will place greater strain on the availability of early childhood programs for low-income Kansas families.

Schmidt joined 23 other state attorneys general in filing a petition with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana seeking to block the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from implementing its mandate that staff, volunteers and others who come in contact with Head Start students must receive COVID-19 vaccinations by January 31. The mandate also forces everyone at Head Start age two and up to wear a mask.

“Kansas families are already facing challenges finding child care,” Schmidt said. “The Biden Administration’s adoption of this one-size-fits-all mandate will worsen child care shortages. This mandate is likely to result in the loss of staff, closure of facilities or at least reduced capacity for low-income children. It is another example of the administration taking shortcuts and failing to consider consequences as it rushes forward, and the courts should strike this mandate down as they have others.”

Today’s filing asks the court to declare the mandate arbitrary, capricious and unlawful under the federal Administrative Procedures Act. The filing notes that the mandate will be particularly detrimental to low-income Kansans who rely on Head Start.

“As a result of the Head Start Mandate, staff and volunteers will likely leave the Head Start program,” the petition states. “As a natural and foreseeable result, certain providers will close and children from low-income families in affected areas will be denied access to the preschool education that Congress guaranteed them and children who are denied access to preschool education will miss out on crucial years of development. Those programs that do not close entirely still may have to decrease enrollment capacity to meet teacher-student ratios. Parents will have to leave their jobs or hire others to take care of them. And States and local school boards will have to immediately address the impairment to early-childhood education program alignment with entry into Kindergarten programs.”

This case is the fourth filed by Schmidt challenging the federal government’s recent attempts to mandate vaccination. Schmidt has asked other federal courts to declare illegal two different federal vaccination mandates – one applying to businesses and universities that participate in federal contracts and another paying to healthcare facilities including nursing homes. Those mandates have been blocked from implementation and are pending further court action.

Another mandate regarding an emergency temporary standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was allowed to remain in effect upheld Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, reversing a stay entered by a previous court ruling. Schmidt and 26 other state attorneys general have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and block that the enforcement of the temporary OSHA mandate.

A copy of today's lawsuit against HHS is available at https://bit.ly/3pqmopr.

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.