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161525 - In re Smith, Minors

In re Smith, Minors,










Heather Bergman


(Appeal from Ct. of Appeals)



(Kalamazoo Family Div – Pierangeli, G)




Timothy Pinto


The family court assumed jurisdiction over the respondent father’s children on the basis of educational neglect because the children had a high level of absenteeism and tardiness.  After the family court assumed jurisdiction, it terminated the respondent’s parental rights for failing to comply with his parent agency treatment plan.  On appeal, the respondent argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the family court’s assumption of jurisdiction pursuant to In re Ferranti, 504 Mich 1 (2019).  The Court of Appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion, with one judge dissenting.  The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the application to address:  (1) whether a child’s chronic absence from school is, on its own, a sufficient basis for the trial court to assume jurisdiction on the ground of educational neglect as contemplated by MCL 712A.2(b)(2); (2) whether proving allegations of educational neglect requires demonstrating that the child has suffered harm, see MCL 712A.2(b)(1)(b), and, if so, what constitutes harm for these purposes; and (3) whether the trial court clearly erred when it exercised jurisdiction over the minor children solely on the basis of educational neglect pursuant to MCL 712A.2(b)(1).​