Nebraska Court of Appeals Overturns Lower Court Removing Child for Truancy Under ICWA

Opinion here (from June 24).

On February 26, 2013, the juvenile court ordered Mischa to be placed into foster care and the case plan was modified to allow for liberal visitation of Mischa with her family. In reaching this decision, the court noted the parents’ argument that Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-1505(5) (Reissue 2008) provides that foster care placement may not be ordered in the absence of a determination by clear and convincing evidence includ- ing testimony of qualified expert witnesses that continued custody by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional and physical damage to the child. The court found that serious emotional damage would result to Mischa as a result of insufficient education. The court found, however, that even in the absence of such proof, the statute is unconstitutional as applied in this case, stating that “Indian children are entitled to no less educational opportunity than other children and accordingly, as applied in this particular case, such statute is unconstitutional to the extent that it would deny Mischa educational opportunity even in the absence of serious emotional and physical damage . . . .” The order was silent on whether active efforts had been provided to prevent the breakup of this family. Deanna and Chris subsequently perfected their appeal to this court.

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