In re Interest of Mya C. and Sunday C.

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In re Interest of Mya C. and Sunday C.

Caselaw No.
286 Neb. 1008
Filed on
Friday, December 6, 2013

SUMMARY: Changing the mother’s reunification plan from continuing high school when she was under 19 to actively pursuing a GED as a condition of reunification after she turned 19 was a material change and therefore appealable. 

Nyamal is the mother of Mya, age 4, and Sunday, age 2, and in July 2010 was an unmarried minor living with her mother. At that time, all three girls were removed from the home and placed in foster care. After adjudication, at disposition the court ordered Nyamal to, among other things, “continue her education at Lincoln High School”, and to seek part-time employment. In March 2011, DHHS placed Nyamal in an apartment with her daughters and the court ordered that “Nyamal continue with her education at Bryan Community School.” The December 8, 2011, review order contained the same language and also required DHHS to assist Nyamal with her resident alien status. Nyamal aged out of the system in December 2011. In March 2012, the children were removed to a foster home due to inappropriate discipline by Nyamal. In March, Nyamal had dropped out of high school and in May began GED classes. In July 2012, Nyamal found a temporary full-time job and had almost stopped attending GED classes, with the instructor reporting that she was below-average in reading, writing and math. At a July 2012 hearing, Nyamal stated she wanted to work full-time and would start her GED work again after the kids were returned to her. After the hearing, the court ordered that Nyamal actively pursue either a GED or a high school diploma. Nyamal appealed. The Court of Appeals found that the order was not appealable because it merely continued a previous order. Nyamal again appealed.

The Nebraska Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals. In considering whether the July 2012 merely continued the terms of the prior order, the Supreme Court noted that the juvenile court stated it was adopting DHHS recommendations with the change in the plan and that it made pursuing a GED or diploma a condition of reunification whereas the earlier order was more of an acknowledgement of Nyamal attending school. It also found that continuing pursuit of a high school diploma while under 19 is vastly different than a below-average student actively pursuing a GED or diploma as a condition of reunification, and concluded that the new requirement was a material change in the rehabilitation plan that could be appealed.