In re Interest of Mya C. and Sunday C.

Caselaw Number
Filed On

SUMMARY: Requirement in a rehabilitation plan that the mother actively pursue a high school diploma or a GED diploma was not reasonably related to the conditions on which the adjudication had been obtained when the children were adjudicated because the mother left the children with an inappropriate caregiver, unsanitary conditions in the home, and inappropriate physical discipline. 

In July 2010, Nyamal, a minor at the time, was living in her mother’s house with Nyamal’s two young daughters, Mya and Sunday. All three were removed from the home due to Nyamal’s mother’s inadequate supervision and unsanitary conditions; Mya and Sunday were later adjudicated due to Nyamal’s neglect. In March 2011, Nyamal and her children were placed together in an apartment. A disposition order entered on December 10, 2010 required Nyamal to participate in therapy, seek part-time employment, cooperate with family support services, and continue her education. Nyamal later turned 19 and aged out of the juvenile court system. In March 2012, the Department removed Mya and Sunday from Nyamal’s care because of Nyamal’s inappropriate physical discipline. The same month, Nyamal dropped out of school and began taking GED classes. In July 2012, Nyamal obtained a temporary full-time job and her attendance at GED classes waned. A GED instructor stated that Nyamal had below-average reading, writing and mathematical skills and still had to make substantial progress to obtain a GED diploma. As part of an August 19, 2012 order, the juvenile court required Nyamal to actively pursue a GED or a high school diploma. Nyamal appealed, and the Nebraska Court of Appeals held the August 19, 2012 order was not a final, appealable order because it was just a continuation of earlier dispositional orders. The Nebraska Supreme Court reversed, finding that the order was a final, appealable order because there was a difference between requiring a minor ward to continue in school and requiring an adult to obtain a diploma as a condition of reunification, so the August 19, 2012 order was not a continuation of earlier dispositional orders. The Nebraska Supreme Court remanded to the Court of Appeals.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals held the requirement that Nyamal actively pursue her GED or high school diploma was not reasonably related to the conditions that led to the adjudication. The underlying issues of the adjudication were that Nyamal left her children with an inadequate caregiver who failed to supervise them and unsanitary conditions in the home. The children were removed a second time because Nyamal used inappropriate physical punishment. The Court of Appeals noted that obtaining the equivalent of a high school diploma will not tend to correct her inappropriate caregiving. In addition, requiring an adult with below-average skills to obtain a diploma may lengthen the time the children are in out-of-home placement. The disposition plan was affirmed as modified to remove the requirement that Nyamal pursue her diploma.