This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).




Angela Star Zoerink,

Commissioner of Human Services,


Filed November 13, 2007


Halbrooks, Judge



Minnesota Department of Human Services

File No. 97492


Angela Zoerink, 2030 108th Lane Northwest, Coon Rapids, MN 55443 (pro se relator)


Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Margaret H. Chutich, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101 (for respondent)



            Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Randall, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            By writ of certiorari, relator challenges the decision of the Minnesota Department of Human Services that she is disqualified from working in positions allowing direct contact with children, youth, and individuals receiving services from certain state licensed and unlicensed facilities.  We affirm.


            Relator Angela Star Zoerink has worked in nursing homes and provided home care for many years.  At the request of All PCA Services, an unlicensed personal-care-provider organization and potential new employer for relator, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) performed a background study of relator pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 245C.03 (2006).  Upon completion of the study, the DHS disqualified relator from holding a position at any unlicensed personal-care-provider organization, along with certain positions with licensed entities.[1]  Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 245C.17, subd. 2 (2006), the DHS informed relator of her disqualification by letter dated August 22, 2006. 

            The DHS disqualified relator on three grounds.  First, the DHS found that relator was permanently disqualified because her parental rights to her child, J.M., were involuntarily terminated by the Fourth Judicial District Court on October 11, 1995.   Second, the DHS found that there was a prior substantiated determination of relator’s maltreatment of another child, K.E., by Anoka County Child Protection on August 8, 2000.  The third basis for the DHS’s determination was relator’s gross-misdemeanor conviction of theft in February 2005. 

            Relator sought reconsideration of her disqualification with respondent Commissioner of Human Services under Minn. Stat. § 245C.21 (2006).  She argued that she had voluntarily given up her right to parent J.M. before the court’s determination in 1995, and although Anoka County had found maltreatment with respect to her care of K.E., it was really an issue over housing.  Relator stated that her conviction of aiding and abetting theft occurred because, although she did not personally steal anything, she chose not to walk away from a friend who had stolen something.  Although charged as a gross misdemeanor, the charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor. 

            The commissioner affirmed the decision to permanently disqualify relator.  In a letter dated September 19, 2006, the commissioner stated that relator had failed to provide any documentation to demonstrate that any of the information used to disqualify her was incorrect.  As a result, the commissioner concluded that the information underlying the disqualification was accurate.  The commissioner further stated that, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 245C.24, subd. 2 (2006), the disqualification “[could not] be set aside regardless of how much time has passed, and regardless of whether or not it is determined that you pose a risk of harm.”  This certiorari appeal follows.


When reviewing agency decisions, our standard of review depends upon whether or not the agency decision was made after a “contested case” proceeding, defined as “a proceeding before an agency in which the [rights, duties, and privileges] of specific parties are required by law to be determined after an agency hearing.”  Minn. Stat. § 14.02, subd. 3 (2006).  The DHS is not required to conduct a contested-case hearing when an individual requests reconsideration under Minn. Stat. § 245A.04, subd. 3b (2006), and no contested-case hearing occurred here.  Therefore, relator’s certiorari appeal is before this court pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 480A.06, subd. 3 (2006) and Minn. Stat. §§ 606.01-.06 (2006), rather than the Administrative Procedure Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 14.63-.69 (2006).

On certiorari appeal from a quasi-judicial agency decision that is not subject to the administrative procedure act, we inspect the record to review


questions affecting the jurisdiction of the [agency], the regularity of its proceedings, and, as to merits of the controversy, whether the order of determination in a particular case was arbitrary, oppressive, unreasonable, fraudulent, under an erroneous theory of law, or without any evidence to support it.


Rodne v. Comm’r of Human Servs., 547 N.W.2d 440, 444-45 (Minn. App. 1996). 

The DHS’s first basis for relator’s disqualification is the involuntary termination of relator’s parental rights to J.M., who was born on December 2, 1988.  Involuntary termination of parental rights results in permanent disqualification under Minn. Stat. § 245C.15, subd. 1(a) (2006). 

J.M. was born with multiple health issues.[2]  While relator asserts that she voluntarily agreed to place J.M. with her sister and brother-in-law, that decision was not a basis for the DHS in its determination.  The district court found that relator signed a voluntary placement agreement with the Hennepin County Department of Community Services on May 8, 1990.  The district court also found that on January 10, 1990, relator signed over power of attorney regarding J.M. to her sister.  But on January 28, 1991, J.M. was removed from relator’s sister’s home due to neglect and placed in shelter care.  On January 31, 1991, both relator and her sister signed voluntary placement agreements allowing J.M. to remain out of their homes.[3] 

Beginning in September 1991, the Hennepin County Department of Children and Family Services prepared several case plans for relator.  The last plan, which relator signed on February 24, 1994, required her to complete a psychological evaluation, submit to random urinalysis, learn about J.M.’s medical needs, schedule regular visits with J.M., and maintain regular contact with the social worker.  Relator failed to comply with the conditions of her plan and failed to attend the hearing on the county’s petition for termination of relator’s parental rights to J.M.

The district court found that relator was in default and concluded that relator’s parental rights should be terminated because (1) she had abandoned J.M. (J.M. was then 6 1/2 years old and had never lived with relator.  Further, relator had had only five visits with J.M. from September 1992 through October 1994); (2) the county had made reasonable efforts to assist relator in alleviating the problems that placed J.M. at risk of harm in her care; (3) relator had failed to comply with the case-plan requirements; and (4) termination was in J.M.’s best interests.

Relator never challenged the termination of her parental rights to J.M.  Under Minn. Stat. § 245C.15, subd. 1(a), “An individual is disqualified under section 245C.14 . . . regardless of how much time has passed since the involuntary termination of the individual’s parental rights under section 260C.301.”  On review of a disqualification, the commissioner “may not set aside the disqualification of any individual pursuant to this chapter, regardless of how much time has passed, if the individual was disqualified for . . . conduct listed in section 245C.15, subd. 1.”  Minn. Stat. § 245C.24, subd. 2(a) (2006).  We therefore conclude that the DHS did not err in determining that relator is disqualified from working in positions allowing direct contact with children, youth, and individuals receiving services from certain state licensed and unlicensed facilities. 

            Because relator’s permanent disqualification based on the involuntary termination of her parental rights to J.M. is dispositive, we do not reach the other arguments asserted by relator.


[1] Relator was also disqualified from holding “any position allowing direct contact with, or access to, persons receiving services from programs licensed by the Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Department of Health, [and also] from facilities serving children or youth licensed by the Department of Corrections.”

[2] J.M. was diagnosed with fetal-alcohol syndrome and congenital heart disease.  He has had surgery to address his heart condition, a gastrostomy, and been diagnosed with significant intellectual and physical developmental delays.

[3] Along with her brief, relator submitted two affidavits, from Peter Peterson, her brother-in-law, and Suzanne Peterson, her sister, stating that relator did not have her parental rights taken from her.  The affidavits were presented for the first time on appeal, and therefore, are not part of the record.  Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01.  But even if we were to consider them, the affidavits are inconsistent with the district court’s order dated October 12, 1995.