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AGO 1951 No. 471 - March 14, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

CUSTODIAL SCHOOLS ‑- LAKELAND VALLEY AND RAINIER STATE SCHOOLS ‑- DISCRETION OF SUPERINTENDENTS AS TO ADDITIONAL ADMISSIONS WHEN FACILITIES ARE INADEQUATE TO ACCOMMODATE ALL APPLICANTS.

When space and beds are not available for additional admissions to State Custodial Schools, the Department of Institutions and the Superintendents of the schools have discretionary power to limit and control additional admissions.

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                                                                  March 14, 1951

Honorable Van R. Hinkle, Supervisor
Department of Public Institutions
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                   Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 471

Dear Sir:

            By letter of February 1, 1951, you request our opinion as to whether or not a superintendent of our state custodial schools, namely, Rainier State School at Buckley and Lakeland Village, at Medical Lake, may refuse admission of children to those schools when space and beds are not available for additional children.  You state that both institutions now have waiting lists and admission from the list of committed children is on an emergency basis following careful study by the social service departments.

            You are advised that:

            The Director of Public Institutions, acting through the superintendents of the state custodial schools, has discretionary power to limit and control additional admissions to such schools when adequate space and beds are not available.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The statutory provisions relating to what are now Lakeland Village (Rem. Rev. Stat. 4655 et seq., as amended) and Rainier State School (chapter 10, Laws of 1937, Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 4679-1 et seq.) give the department of  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] public institutions, acting through the custodial school superintendents, some degree of discretion as to the form of application for admission and in determining whether the physical and mental condition of the children involved qualifies them for admission.

            Although it is undoubtedly true that the legislative intent was that all eligible applicants were to be accommodated, such intent must of necessity be modified by the extent to which physical plant facilities are available.  From the responsibility and duty to operate the institutions on such a basis as will safeguard the health and welfare of those admitted to the schools, we believe it is reasonable to imply that the department and superintendents have the inherent power, in the exercise of reasonable discretion, to limit and control additional admissions under the circumstances outlined by you.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

FRED L. HARLOCKER
Assistant Attorney General

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