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09/11/97 C.W. v. C.W.

September 11, 1997

IN THE INTEREST OF C.W., A MINOR, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
C.W., A MINOR, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Piatt County. No. 95J19. Honorable John P. Shonkwiler, Judge Presiding.

Honorable Robert W. Cook, J., Honorable Robert J. Steigmann, P.j., Concur, Honorable John T. McCullough, J., Concur. Justice Cook delivered the opinion of the court.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cook

The Honorable Justice COOK delivered the opinion of the court:

C.W., a minor (born March 27, 1980), was adjudicated a truant minor in need of supervision. Following his sixteenth birthday, C.W. filed a petition asking that he be discharged from further adjudication, alleging that Illinois law no longer required that he attend school, and accordingly, that the trial court no longer had jurisdiction over him. The trial court denied C.W.'s petition. C.W. appeals, alleging the trial court erred in denying his petition. We affirm and remand with directions.

On December 5, 1995, the Piatt County State's Attorney filed a petition alleging that C.W. was a truant minor in need of supervision. On January 31, 1996, at the adjudicatory hearing, C.W. admitted the allegations contained in the petition. The dispositional hearing took place February 7, 1996. The court ordered C.W. "to attend each school day for a full day and to have no absence except as may be excused by a physician's certificate." C.W. was also required to continue counseling or other support services as required by the probation office and successfully complete 25 hours of community service. Finally, C.W. was directed to comply with the individual education plan "as may be provided by the regional superintendent of schools."

On May 23, 1996, C.W. filed a petition asking that he be discharged from continued adjudication. In summary, the petition alleged that C.W. had turned 16 years old on March 27, 1996, and that the semester was scheduled to end on May 28, 1996. Since Illinois law only requires a person to attend school until the age of 16, C.W. argued that the court no longer had jurisdiction over him. The trial court denied C.W.'s petition. On appeal, the issue is whether a minorwho is adjudicated a truant minor in need of supervision is entitled to discharge from supervision upon his attaining the age of 16. We hold that he is not.

Article III of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) deals with minors requiring authoritative intervention. 705 ILCS 405/3-1 et seq. (West 1996). Section 3-1 of the Act reads as follows: "Jurisdictional facts. Proceedings may be instituted under this Article concerning boys and girls who require authoritative intervention as defined in Section 3-3 or who are truant minors in need of supervision as defined in Section 3-33 [(705 ILCS 405/3-33 (West 1996))]." 705 ILCS 405/3-1 (West 1996). C.W. was adjudicated a truant minor in need of supervision under section 3-33(a) of the Act, which provides:

"Any minor who is reported by a regional superintendent of schools *** as a chronic truant (i) to whom prevention, diagnostic, intervention and remedial services and alternative programs and other school and community resources have been provided and have failed to result in the cessation of chronic truancy, or (ii) to whom such services, programs and resources have been offered and have been refused, shall be adjudged a truant minor in need of supervision." 705 ILCS 405/3-33(a) (West 1996).

Section 1-3(4.1) of the Act, by reference to section 26-2a of the School Code, defines a "chronic truant" as "a child subject to compulsory school attendance and who is absent without valid cause from such attendance for 10% or more of the previous 180 regular attendance days." 705 ILCS 405/1-3(4.1) (West 1996); 105 ILCS 5/26-2a (West 1996). Generally, school attendance in Illinois is compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 16, absent a statutory exemption. See 105 ILCS 5/26-1 (West 1996). Additionally, if a minor below the age of 7 or over the age of 16 is enrolled in school, his custodian is required to cause him to attend school through the end of the regular school term. 105 ILCS 5/26-2 (West 1996).

In December 1995, at the time the State's Attorney filed the petition alleging that C.W. was a truant minor in need of supervision, C.W. was 15 years old and was, pursuant to Illinois law, required to attend school. However, C.W. argues that, because he has turned 16 and finished the school term, Illinois law no longer requires that he attend school. C.W. argues that, absent the statutory compulsion found in sections 26-1 and 26-2 of the School Code, the trial court no longer has jurisdiction over him.

At the hearing on C.W.'s petition for discharge, the trial court disagreed with C.W., noting that "there is no doubt that if at the time of the filing of the petition [C.W.] had already turned 16, *** the petition could very well be dismissed." The trial court was also of theopinion that "once the court has attained jurisdiction over the minor, *** he's under the throes of the [Act], [and] that the [Act], rather than the School Code, would be applicable in the law of this case." The court concluded that a minor who has been adjudicated a truant minor in need of supervision "does not necessarily have a right to force a dismissal of the juvenile case upon his reaching 16." We agree.

Since section 3-1 of the Act states that proceedings regarding truant minors in need of supervision may be initiated under article III, it follows that article III provisions govern supervision proceedings. However, section 3-33 of the Act does not fit neatly within article III of the Act. Most of article III deals specifically with minors requiring authoritative intervention. A minor requiring authoritative intervention is defined as including:

"any minor under 18 years of age (1) who is (a) absent from home without consent of parent ***, or (b) beyond the control of his or her parent *** in circumstances which constitute a substantial or immediate danger to the minor's physical safety; and (2) who, after being taken into limited custody *** and offered interim crisis intervention services, where available, refuses to return home after the minor and his or her parent cannot agree to an arrangement for alternative voluntary residential placement or to the continuation of such placement." 705 ILCS 405/3-3 (West 1996).

Clearly, a minor could be a "truant minor in need of supervision" but not a "minor requiring authoritative intervention." Compare 705 ILCS 405/3-33 (West 1996), with 705 ILCS 405/3-3 (West 1996). This was not always the case. As originally enacted, the "minor requiring authoritative intervention" definition also included any minor under the age of 18 who was "a chronic or habitual truant as defined in Section 26-2a of The School Code." Ill. Rev. Stat., 1982 Supp., ch. 37, par. 702-3. In other words, a truant minor in need of supervision was, by definition, a minor requiring authoritative intervention. Currently, however, the two classifications not only carry different definitions, they also have different possible dispositions: those for minors requiring authoritative intervention are found in ...


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