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In Re White

OPINION FILED JANUARY 6, 1982.

IN RE DANNY WHITE ET AL., MINORS. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

MARY WHITE ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS.) — IN RE PAUL WHITE, A MINOR. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

MARY WHITE ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of McLean County; the Hon. JOSEPH H. KELLEY, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied January 28, 1982.

There are 13 children in the White family and 5 of them are retarded.

We deal here with three of those children: Danny, George, and Paul — all severely and profoundly mentally retarded.

They were found to be neglected minors as to their education, were made wards of the court, had their custody placed with the Illinois Department of Mental Health and were placed in private licensed facilities.

We affirm.

Procedural History

In 1978, Danny and George White were found to be neglected minors as to their education and were made wards of the court pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 37, par. 701-1 et seq.) They were left in the custody and guardianship of their parents, but the court directed that they attend special education programs of School District No. 87. On August 1, 1980, the State filed a supplemental petition alleging that Danny and George had "periodically" attended District 87's program at MARC Center in Bloomington and that that facility would not accept them for the 1980-81 school year because of lack of support and cooperation from the White family and because of the boys' extremely poor attendance in the past.

On August 20, 1980, the court filed an order — "approved" by all parties concerned — which provided that the minors would not be required to attend any special education program "at this time," nor would their mother be required to cooperate with such a program "at this time." Further, District 87 would not be required to provide a program for the minors "at this time." The order also stated that the parties were to report to the court immediately upon the termination of certain administrative proceedings that Mrs. White had brought before the United States Department of Education.

On September 23, the State filed another supplemental petition alleging that, pursuant to the August 20 order, Danny and George had not been attending any special education programs but that it was necessary, because of their disabilities and regressive development, that they be in a program. The petition sought dispositional hearings as to Danny and George. In addition, on this date a petition for adjudication of wardship was filed as to Paul White, alleging that he was a neglected minor as to his education. On November 20, an order was entered stating that the September 23d supplemental petition had been proven, and adjudging George a neglected minor and making him a ward of the court. An order was also entered adjudging Paul a neglected minor and making him a ward of the court.

Following dispositional hearings, the court transferred custody of Danny and George to the Department of Mental Health and directed that they be placed at Shroyer House and New Hope Living and Learning Center, respectively (general No. 16954). An order was also entered placing custody of Paul with the Department and directing placement at Chileda (general No. 16956). On February 18, 1981, the State filed a supplemental petition alleging that New Hope had refused to accept George and asking that he be placed at Woodhaven Home. Following a further dispositional hearing, the court entered an order giving the Department authority to place George at New Hope, Woodhaven, or the Institute of Logopedics (general No. 17016).

Summary of Testimony

At the hearing held on the September 23, 1980, supplemental petition, witnesses for respondent-parents testified that schooling would not be beneficial to the White boys and that Mrs. White could do a better job of training them. Witnesses for the State testified that during the 1979-80 school year, when the White youngsters were assigned to special education programs at District 87, their attendance was very sporadic. Attendance records indicated that Danny and George had been absent 57% and 58% of the time, respectively, during that year. (Records for 1971 to 1979 indicated only two years when their attendance was any better and showed four years for each of the boys when they were absent 100% of the time.) They were often gone from school for days on end and did not return to school at all following the Easter vacation.

A number of school officials testifying for the State described in detail Mrs. White's refusal to cooperate with programs the district had planned for the boys. She was never satisfied with anything that the district would try to do, and she claimed that their attendance at school was upsetting them. These officials further testified that during the short time that they were attending regularly, the boys showed a noticeable improvement in their ability to perform basic skills. Witnesses described all three boys as severely and ...


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