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School Residence of CourtInvolved Students Karen Haase & Steve Williams (402) 434-3000 H & S School Law @KarenHaase @SteveIsEsteban schoollaw@hslegalfirm.com


What is a “state/court ward?”  No definition in state law  NDE says if kid is in court, kid is a ward


Recent Changes in Juvenile Court  Old system: HHS handled abuse and neglect as well as “law violations”  New system: LB 561 • HHS involved for abuse/neglect • Probation involved for law violation • Reintegration procedures


State Ward Issues


Mobility  25.2% of state wards were very mobile (enrolled in two or more schools in the current school year)  4.2% of non wards were very mobile


Graduation Rates  43.7% of state wards graduated in 2011  87.4% of non-wards graduated in 2011


Special Education  State wards are twice as likely to receive special education services (36.2% v. 16.6%)  State wards are 7 times more likely to have a behavior disorder (7.9% v. .06%)


High Ability Learners  2.4% of state wards were classified as high ability learners  compared to 11.5% on non-wards


So where should wards go to school?


Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008  Amends Federal Social Security Act  Broad-reaching amendments to child welfare law; requires court oversight  Important provisions promoting education stability and enrollment for youth in care  States required to change child welfare laws


Presumption: Same School  The child’s case plan must include – “(I) an assurance that the state [or local child welfare agency] has coordinated with appropriate local education agencies … to ensure that the child remains enrolled in the school in which the child was enrolled at the time of placement” 42 U.S.C.A. 675(1)(G)(ii).


Presumption: Same School  If remaining in the same school is not in the best interest of the child, the child’s case plan must include – “(II) … assurances by the State agency and the local education agencies to provide immediate and appropriate enrollment in a new school, with all of the education records of the child provided to the school.” 42 U.S.C.A. 675(1)(G)(ii).


How implemented in Nebraska  “. . .the person or court in charge of the child shall: (4) Require that the child attend the same school as prior to the foster care placement unless the person or court in charge determines that attending such school would not be in the best interests of the child . . . Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1311


State Wards who ARE Foster  Remains resident of home dist.  NOT resident of foster home district  Should continue attending original school unless HHS determines otherwise  DO NOT enroll foster kids as a matter of course 79-215(9)


State Wards NOT in Foster  Remains resident  State pays if: • Placed in different district • Placed in institution with SpEd program  Resident dist. still obligated for IEP  Resident dist. lists on NSSRS 79-215(9)


Option Students  Foster parents can’t option  Parents “eligible” for mileage if qualify for free lunch  Option students placed out of district 79-215(5) and (8) 79-241


Education Court Report  New form being piloted in several counties  Information to assist Judge in making specific inquiries into pertinent information related to a student’s education  HHS case workers required to complete (will eventually be state-wide)


How One Judge Describes Form:  Intended to promote the expectation that child welfare and juvenile justice professionals be prepared to report and respond to education-related to the court  Educational issues will vary by child  School policies and procedures are not uniform  Familiarity and ongoing communication with the school is recommended as a matter of “best practice”


Preliminary Data From Form  85 forms completed • • • • • •

58 remained in same school/30 changed Longest distance traveled was 34 miles 24 involved in extracurriculars 55 at grade level 19 suspended since last court hearing 27 planned on attending college


Education forum residence