The Second Department, reversing (modifying) Family Court, held the educational neglect finding was supported for the eight-year-old child, but the derivative educational neglect finding for four-month-old child was not supported:
The record demonstrates that the older child was absent 48 days and was late 78 other days during the 2016-2017 school year. The record also shows that the older child was reported to be failing and had previously repeated the first grade. Thus, the petitioner met its prima facie burden of establishing educational neglect of the older child by submitting unrebutted evidence of that child’s excessive absences and tardiness … . The mother’s excuses for the older child’s absences and tardiness did not constitute a reasonable justification for the child’s excessive absences and tardiness … . Moreover, the court drew the strongest negative inference against the mother for her failure to testify … .
However, under the circumstances of this case, we disagree with the Family Court’s determination that proof of the mother’s educational neglect of the older child is proof that she derivatively neglected the younger child. “Although Family Court Act § 1046(a)(i) allows evidence of abuse or neglect of one sibling to be considered in determining whether other children in the household were abused or neglected, the statute does not mandate a finding of derivative neglect” … . Here, there is no likelihood that the educational neglect of the older child, who was eight years old at the time of the proceeding, had any detrimental impact on the younger child, who was four months old at the time of the events in issue. Thus, the preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that the mother derivatively neglected the younger child, who was not of school age or even close to being so … . Matter of Nevetia M. (Tiara M.), 2020 NY Slip Op 03515, Second Dept 6-24-20