Five adopted children seized by the state after their parents were accused of starving them haven't attended school in nearly three months, state officials said Wednesday.
The children, ages 8 to 13, were home-schooled before the state placed them in foster care in March, Assistant Attorney General Dana Gigler said during a civil hearing in Cowlitz County Juvenile Court. Gigler said the children's upbringing has left them ill-equipped to attend classes.
"These children have been very isolated their entire lives," Gigler said, adding that Children's Administration officials hope to provide the kids with one-on-one tutoring throughout the summer.
By fall, the children should be "academically and socially ready to begin school," she said, reporting that a local church has offered to admit the children to a private school on scholarship.
Wednesday's hearing was yet another step in a slew of civil and criminal proceedings unleashed in March when the state accused Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock of abusing and starving their five adopted children, three of whom were adopted from Haiti. The Longview couple are expected to be arraigned in Cowlitz County Superior Court Friday.
A separate civil trial is scheduled for July 25 in Juvenile Court to determine whether the adopted children should become dependents of the state.
Wednesday, a phalanx of lawyers representing the children, as well as the Trebilcocks' attorney, faced the state's attorneys.
Lawyer Chelsea Baldwin said the Trebilcocks' 11-year-old adopted daughter is "concerned about how far behind she is" in school and wants to return to the Trebilcocks' home. A sheriff's report said the girl had gained 18 pounds and grown an inch and a half by May 12, about two months after she was removed from the Trebilcocks' home.
The Trebilcocks have four biological boys. Three are adults, and the fourth is 16 years old. The teen was sent to live with his older brother following his parents' arrest. A Juvenile Court judge allowed him to return to his parents' home last week. (The Trebilcocks are out on bail.)
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Their biological sons were found to be overweight, but Children's Administration officials said last week they believe the couple abused their biological sons, too.
On Wednesday, attorney Tierra Busby, who represents the 16-year-old, asked the court to dismiss the state's efforts to intervene on the boy's behalf. Busby argued that Children's Administration made no direct allegations that the boy had been abused.
Attorney Kurt Anagnostou, who represents Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock in the civil matter, said state officials keep raising the specter of abuse involving the 16-year-old but have not made specific allegations.
"They have come up with nothing. Zero," Anagnostou said.
Gigler, the assistant attorney general, countered that even being a witness to the abuse of other children left the potential of emotional scarring. A pediatrician "recommended that all of the children, including (the 16-year-old boy), be removed to protect at least their psychological well-being," she said.
State officials are "very concerned that (the boy) may not understand the risk to his psychological and physical well-being," Gigler told the court.
The presiding juvenile judge, Superior Court Judge Gary Bashor, said the state's attorneys will have to provide the court with more details about the alleged abuse of the Trebilcocks' 16-year-old son.
The question of the adopted children's schooling is expected to be addressed again in Juvenile Court next week.