Posts tagged "Millis"

Millis Public Schools v. M.P., et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-023-18)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12384   MILLIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS  vs.  M.P. & others.[1]       Norfolk.     October 2, 2017. – February 6, 2018.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.     Child Requiring Assistance.  Statute, Construction.  Words, “Wilfully.”       Petition filed in the Norfolk County Division of the Juvenile Court Department on November 30, 2016.   The case was heard by Mary M. McCallum, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Katrina McCusker Rusteika, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for M.P.     LENK, J.  The children requiring assistance (CRA) statute, G. L. c. 119, §§ 21, 39E-39I, confers jurisdiction upon the Juvenile Court to intervene in the custody arrangements of children who are, inter alia, “habitually truant,” meaning that they “willfully fail[] to attend school for more than [eight] school days in a quarter.”  G. L. c. 119, § 21.  The statute is aimed at children who exhibit “misbehavior which is not violative of any criminal statute, but which is the cause for concern that it is indicative of problems or tendencies that may eventually lead to delinquent or criminal activity.”  R.L. Ireland & P. Kilcoyne, Juvenile Law § 4.1 (2d ed. 2006 & Supp. 2017) (Ireland & Kilcoyne, Juvenile Law).  In such cases, the Juvenile Court is tasked with examining the children’s circumstances and determining whether changing or placing conditions on their custody arrangements will help deter their potentially harmful behaviors.  Id.  The party that initiates a CRA proceeding must prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.  G. L. c. 119, § 39G. In this case, we decide whether a child, M.P., who has failed continually to attend school due to a combination of physical and mental disabilities, including a severe bladder condition and autism, was properly adjudicated as a child requiring assistance on the basis of a habitual truancy CRA petition filed by the Millis public schools (school district).[2] To make this determination, we must address the novel question of what it means for a child to “willfully fail[] to attend school.”  In light of the CRA statute’s goal of deterring delinquency, the statutory requirement that a child’s failure to attend school be wilful reflects legislative concern as to why the child is regularly skipping school:  it contemplates purposeful conduct by the child.  The wilfulness requirement thus necessitates judicial inquiry into and assessment […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - February 6, 2018 at 8:49 pm

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