Third DCA Says that DCF Can’t Penalize RTI Recipients for Changing School Programs

The Department’s interpretation of these provisions in connection with the renewal of Ms. Enich’s stipend altered the plain meaning of the statute. See Bennett v. St. Vincent’s Med. Ctr., Inc., 71 So. 2d 828, 841 (Fla. 2011). The Department imposed a more stringent set of requirements upon Enich than the statute actually requires. In concluding that “[Enich] did not show proof of academic progress during the period of November 2009 through May 2010[,]” the Department required Ms. Enich to have made continuous progress during that time period, while at the same time overlooking the progress Enich made from May 2010 to the present date. A shift from unsuccessful academic efforts to successful vocational training may have been an appropriate choice by Ms. Enich after consultation with her guardian ad litem and independent living caseworker.

Enich v. DCF, — So.3d —- (Fla. 3rd DCA 2012). 

This is a huge case in the world of Road-to-Independence. The Department has previously called the decision to change programs “school shopping,” and would have kids lock themselves into failure at a school that’s over their head. The Third disagrees, saying that changing programs may be a reasonable way to restore progress.

2 Replies to “Third DCA Says that DCF Can’t Penalize RTI Recipients for Changing School Programs”

  1. A quote from the opinion about the GAL being there for this child for more than 4 years. “In June 2010, after consultation with her independent living case manager and her guardian ad litem (a volunteer with a doctoral degree who had served as a GAL in approximately 50 cases and had worked with Ms. Enich since she was 14 years old), Ms. Enich enrolled as a full-time student in “Beauty Schools of America” in Homestead, Florida, near where she lived and could obtain day care for her daughter. Beauty Schools of America is an authorized post-secondary educational institution for purposes of the RTI program, and Ms. Enich had a
    tentative graduation date of April 25, 2011.”

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