In re IVAN N. Juvenile Court Law

Ivan N. was 17 years old when he admitted that he had touched his 7-year-old adoptive sister (referred to  as the “victim”) by using his penis and hands to touch her genital area numerous times over the period of approximately one year.  At 17, Ivan N. was considered a minor; his adoptive parents learned of the sexual abuse (molestation) due to an incident that occurred in the home.  In April of 2015, Ivan N. was arrested and charged with two counts of committing a lewd act on a minor under the age of 14; he was arraigned and confined at juvenile hall.

The court dismissed one count after Ivan admitted to one count in May of 2015.  He admitted that he molested the victim to get back at his parents, and apologized during an interview for his conduct.  Ivan was referred to an outpatient or residential facility following a psychological evaluation, a facility offering therapy and programming for treatment of adolescent male sex offenders.  It was determined that Ivan was a person described by section 602 who was subject to probation.  The probation department prepared a social study, which recommended Ivan, could receive appropriate treatment at a CBO (community based organization).

The juvenile court determined that treatment in a CBO could include education at a juvenile court school if necessary.  Ivan N. motioned for an additional hearing during further dispositional proceedings to consider whether he might be able to return to the high school he had previously attended following a brief period of treatment; his motion was denied by the juvenile court.  Ivan N. then appealed the court’s decision, claiming he should be entitled to additional hearings regarding his educational preferences as someone who fits the definition of a “foster child” under Education Code section 48853.5, subdivision (a) by remaining “the subject of a petition filed under [section 602].”  Ivan N.s appeal contends that the juvenile court erred in denying his motion.

Ultimately, the appeals court affirmed the order and judgment of the juvenile court, determining that the juvenile court was not required to grant a separate hearing on the request according to provisions in the Education Code and related California rule of court relied upon by the minor (Ivan N.) (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.651).  California Rules of Court rule 5.651 concerns educational and developmental-services decision making rights.

Ivan N. essentially agreed to the proposed residential placement, but was denied a request for a hearing regarding whether he should be allowed to return to his “school of origin,” or North San Diego County high school, where he reportedly had passing grades in all classes and had friends.  Ivan N.s parents were heard from at the disposition hearing, his adoptive mother revealing she was concerned it would not be appropriate for Ivan to attend his local high school because of the fact the parents’ other children were enrolled in a grade school across the street from the high school, and it would be “difficult for them not to see him there.”

In the end, the California Court of Appeals determined the juvenile court resolved the motion properly in concluding that Ivan N. had not shown he was entitled to further hearings regarding where he could attend high school as a ward under the supervision of the probation officer.  Once the true findings on the section 602 petition were made by the court, the procedures of section 727 ultimately governed Ivan N.s dispositional proceedings, resulting in the decision that the probation officer could exercise authority in regards to the minor’s placement for education without regard to “foster child” definitions outlined in Education Code section 48853.5 subdivision (a).

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