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Name: In re Q.N.
Case #: C064967
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/07/2012
Summary

Juvenile court lacked authority to issue order requiring county office of education to fund a minor’s residential placement since the office was not joined as a party under Welfare and Institutions Code section 727. Minor was adjudged a ward of the juvenile court and committed to the probation department for suitable placement. The county department of mental health recommended a residential placement and other services but, due to confusion regarding which school district the minor would reside in when she left the detention facility, the department was unable to identify a responsible school district to handle the education portion of the placement. The minor’s attorney filed a motion for joinder of several agencies, including the county office of education which had been responsible for providing special education services to the minor while she was detained, under section 727 to assist the juvenile court in determining which school district was responsible for providing Government Code chapter 26.5 services. The court denied the joinder motion but directed the county office of education to continue to implement the minor’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) by coordinating the transportation and funding of the minor’s placement. The county office of education appealed, arguing that the juvenile court lacked authority to issue the order against it. Reversed. Once the juvenile court determined that the county office of education could not be joined as a party under section 727, it had no jurisdiction, and lacked authority, to issue an order against the office because it had not been made a proper party to the action. There was no legal basis for the juvenile court’s assertion that it had jurisdiction to direct the county office of education to continue to implement the minor’s IEP. The court noted that the proper course of action, given the circumstances of the case, would have been for the juvenile court to appoint a responsible adult under Welfare and Institutions Code section 726.

The county office of education had standing to appeal because the juvenile court’s order was a final determination of a matter that directly affected the office. Welfare and Institutions Code section 800, which governs appeals in Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 cases, does not provide for any appeal by an agency such as a county office of education. However, nothing in section 800 prevents a party affected by a juvenile court ruling from appealing under some other statute. Here, the court’s order was a final determination of the rights of the parties in the matter and directly affected the county office of education. An order that constitutes a final determination in a proceeding is appealable. (Code Civ. Proc., § 904.1, subd. (a); Laraway v. Pasadena Unified School Dist. (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 579, 583.)