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2008-UP-316 - Wright v. SCDSS

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

Gloria and Johnnie Wright, Appellants,

v.

South Carolina Department of Social Services, Respondent.


Appeal From Fair Hearing Committee
 Thomas J. Burkizer, Hearing Officer


Unpublished Opinion No. 2008-UP-316
Heard April 9, 2008 – Filed June 25, 2008


APPEAL DISMISSED


Michele R. Krize, of Florence, for Appellants.

Delton W. Powers, Jr., of Bennettsville, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Foster parents Gloria and Johnnie Wright (collectively the Wrights) appeal the Fair Hearing Committee’s (Committee) finding that the South Carolina Department of Social Services (Department) did not violate the Wrights’ due process rights by removing the Wrights’ foster child from their home.  We dismiss.   

LAW/ANALYSIS

The Wrights argue the Committee erred in affirming the Department’s decision to remove their foster child from their home because substantial evidence did not support the Department’s decision.  We find we lack jurisdiction to hear this matter.  Consequently, we dismiss.       

 “A foster parent has the right to appeal . . . the removal of a foster child from the foster home.”  27 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 114-140(A)(1)(c) (Supp. 2007).  The Department, and not the Administrative Law Court (ALC), hears appeals from the removal of children from foster homes.  27 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 114-140(C)(1) (Supp. 2007).  After an aggrieved party “has exhausted all administrative remedies available” within the Department, he may seek judicial review of the decision.  S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(A) (Supp. 2007).  “Except as otherwise provided by law, an appeal is to the court of appeals.”  § 1-23-380(A) (emphasis added).  “An administrative law judge . . . shall preside over all appeals from final decisions of contested cases pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.”[1]  S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600(D) (Supp. 2007). 

The Legislature’s 2006 changes to section 1-23-380(A) of the South Carolina Code appear to give the Court of Appeals subject matter jurisdiction to hear this appeal.  However, as the Department observed, section 1-23-600(D) provides an exception to this rule.  Under that exception, the ALC has subject matter jurisdiction over an appeal of a decision of the Department.  Therefore, we lack jurisdiction to hear this appeal.[2] 

CONCLUSION

An appeal from the Department’s decision in this matter should be to the ALC.  Accordingly, this appeal is

DISMISSED.

HEARN, C.J., PIEPER, J., and CURETON, A.J., CONCUR. 


[1] However, the ALC does not have jurisdiction over appeals from the Public Service Commission, the State Ethics Commission, the Procurement Review Panel, the Workers’ Compensation Commission, or the Employment Security Commission. 

[2] We note that since his removal from the Wrights’ home, Child has bonded with another foster parent whom the Department approved to adopt Child.  By order dated June 2, 2008, the family court granted the adoption.  Consequently, were we to review this matter on the merits, we would nevertheless dismiss it as moot.  See Curtis v. State, 345 S.C. 557, 567, 549 S.E.2d 591, 596 (2001) (appellate court will not consider moot questions).