In re Interest of Samantha C.

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Filed On

Summary: The Nebraska Supreme Court rejected minor child’s argument that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was habitually truant from school under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(b), and the argument that the remedial measures schools are to take to address absenteeism as laid out in Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-209(2) are not preconditions that must be met prior to juvenile court involvement. 

A petition was filed in juvenile court alleging that Samantha C, had missed 48.14 days of school. It was uncontested that her parents consented to the absences, but school policy required a doctor’s note for the absence to be excused. As there were 27 absences where there was not a doctor’s note, there were 27 unexcused absences. It was also uncontested that aside from letters sent to the parents there were no remedial measures taken by the school including meetings with the parents, educational evaluations, or other services to the family to address the absences. As to the first assignment of error, that the court failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was habitually truant the Court makes reference to 79-203(3), which permits a school to report to a county attorney if a child is absent more than 20 days per year, and if any one of the days is unexcused. As, school policy ruled absences without a doctor’s note as unexcused, the referral was proper and the State met its burden of proof.

As to the second assignment of error, the Nebraska Supreme Court, rejected the minor child’s argument that the failure of the school to take remedial measures to address absenteeism prior to referral to the county attorney is a defense to adjudication under 43-247(3)(b). The Court held that the purposes of Juvenile Code and the compulsory education statutes are separate and distinct. It held that, “[h]ad the Legislature desired to impose preconditions upon the juvenile court’s jurisdiction under 43-247(3)(b) based upon whether certain services were provided by the juvenile’s school, it certainly could have done so.”

The judgment of the juvenile court of Dodge County was affirmed.