Monroe County Family Court
Specific Intent — School Phobia
Matter of Carly M.
Background: The petitioner commenced a PINS proceeding alleging that the respondent repeatedly failed to attend school. The respondent argued that her habitual truancy from school was not intentional due to her diagnoses of anxiety disorder, depressive disorder and features of body dismorphic disorder.
Ruling: The Family Court Judge sustained the PINS petition. The court credited the testimony of an expert psychologist who stated that “school phobia” is not a recognized diagnosis. Further, the court noted that the Appellate Division has held that no specific intent to be truant from school is required under the PINS truancy statute and that the focus is on whether the absences are “excusable or lawful.” not whether the respondent’s conscious objective or intent was to be truant from school.
Wayne A. Vanderbyl for Greece Central School District; Gary Muldoon for the respondent