Judge rules U program does not violate law

Todd Milbourn

A Ramsey County District judge has ruled the University’s Student Parent Minnesota Family Investment Program — a welfare-to-work training and education program — does not violate state welfare law.
In a decision handed down last week, Judge Louise Dovre Bjorkman ruled state regulations don’t prohibit general college course work.
“We’re very pleased,” said University student and plaintiff Shannon Remer. “Because it helps prove what we were doing wasn’t wrong.”
Remer and two other University students enrolled in Student Parent MFIP brought the case after a Minnesota Department of Human Services objection last July resulted in the loss of the program’s federal funding.
Human services argued the education component of Student Parent MFIP violated a state-mandated, 24-month time limit on training programs.
“A large component (of the University program) was college course work, which we didn’t see as connected to the goal of the (MFIP) program,” said Chuck Johnson, co-director of the families with children division at human services.
The Student Parent MFIP began in early 1999 and seeks to provide parents on welfare with the job skills and remedial education which, upon completion of the program, can be utilized in civil service jobs at the University.
Johnson said the human services department is considering its next move in the case. He said they might appeal or lobby to amend the law.
“I don’t think the battle is over yet,” Remer said.

Todd Milbourn covers community. He welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.