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In re B.A.

Supreme Court of Vermont

July 18, 2014

In re B.A., Juvenile

Editorial Note:

This Opinion is subject to motion for reargument or formal revision before publication. See V.R.A.P. 40

On Appeal from Superior Court, Windham Unit, Family Division. John P. Wesley, J.

Michael Rose, St. Albans, for Appellant.

Kerry A. McDonald-Cady, Windham County Deputy State's Attorney, Brattleboro, for Appellee.

Present: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund, Robinson and Crawford, JJ.

OPINION

Page 169

Reiber, C.J.

[¶1] Mother appeals the family court's adjudication of her daughter B.A. as a child in need of care or supervision (CHINS). She argues that the court erred in combining the merits of the CHINS proceeding with the disposition of a concurrent delinquency proceeding. Mother contends that the court lacked statutory authority to combine the hearings and that striking the CHINS adjudication is necessary to cure the error. We affirm.

[¶2] The facts supporting the CHINS adjudication as found by the trial court are as follows. B.A. was born in June 1999. In the fall of 2012, B.A. was referred to a specialized educational program due to sporadic school attendance and safety issues raised by school personnel regarding suspected use of regulated substances. From the beginning of her attendance, school personnel noticed difficulties with B.A.'s hygiene, including dirty, torn clothing and unkempt hair. School staff also noticed scars from self-injury.

[¶3] In December 2012, police investigated a report that B.A.'s brother had been sexually assaulted by a friend of B.A. The assault allegedly was witnessed by B.A. and took place in mother's home when mother was present in another room. When the investigating detective interviewed B.A. and her brother, mother was argumentative and uncooperative. She would not allow police access to her home to look for relevant evidence. Police obtained

Page 170

a search warrant, and observed that the residence was " extremely cluttered and dirty." There were stacks of items over five-feet high, food items and dirty dishes on counters, and the floor was sagging in a hazardous manner. The Department for Children and Families (DCF) sought an emergency care order based on the condition of the home, but it was denied due to lack of proof that the home was the children's regular residence.

[¶4] In January 2013, B.A. arrived at school intoxicated and with fresh cuts on her arm. B.A. admitted she had been drinking all night and had continued drinking on the bus to school. School staff members were extremely concerned and contacted mother. Although the school director explained to mother that she viewed the situation as urgent and believed B.A. required immediate mental-health intervention, mother ...


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