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AGO 1958 No. 168 - February 28, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

STATE INSTITUTIONS ‑- DIVISION OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH ‑- MERIT SYSTEM FOR FORT WORDEN SCHOOL AND SELAH HOSPITAL.

OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS ‑- MERIT SYSTEM FOR FORT WORDEN SCHOOL AND SELAH HOSPITAL.

The employees of the Selah hospital for mentally deficient children are covered by the statutory merit system of the division of children and youth contained in RCW 43.19.290 through 43.19.360, and the employees of the Fort Worden school are also covered.

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                                                                February 28, 1958

Honorable Garrett Heyns
Director, Department of Institutions
P.O. Box 867
Olympia, Washington                                                                                         Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 168

Dear Sir:

            This is in answer to your letter of December 19, 1957, previously acknowledged.

            For convenience, your questions are paraphrased as follows:

            (1) Are the employees of the Selah Hospital for mentally deficient children covered in the statutory merit system of the division of children and youth services contained in RCW 43.19.290 through 43.19.360?

            (2) Are the employees of the Fort Worden school, established by chapter 217, Laws of 1957, covered under the statutory merit system of the division of children and youth services?

            We answer both questions in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The division of children and youth services was created by § 3, chapter 234,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] Laws of 1951, which provided:

            "There is hereby established within the department of public institutions a new division to be known as the division of children and youth services."

            From this language, it is apparent that a new independent agency was not established, but rather a new administrative unit was conceived as an organizational branch of a previously existing department.

            The purpose of the act is indicated in § 1 thereof:

            ". . . To provide for every child with behavior problems . . . within the purview of this act, such care, guidance and instruction, control and treatment as will best serve the welfare of the child . . ."

            RCW 43.19.290 through 43.19.360 creates a statutory merit system under which, pursuant to the terms of RCW 43.19.290, "all employees of the division except the supervisor and certificated teachers or employees" are to be appointed through competitive examination conducted by the state personnel board.

            Naturally, the employees of a particular division within the department are also employees of the department, but it is clear from the language of RCW 43.19.290 that the legislature intended to limit the coverage afforded by the division's merit system to those departmental employees who are also employees of the division.

            The test then of the applicability of this section to certain personnel depends upon whether they are employees of the division of children and youth services, other than the supervisor and certificated teachers and employees.

            In a previous opinion (AGO 57-58 No. 66) [[to Dr. Lee Sandritter, Department of Institutions on May 22, 1957]], the attorney general held that pursuant to the language of RCW 43.19.370 the division had a mandatory obligation to provide facilities for the institutionalization of mentally deficient children committed to the two state schools but not admitted due to lack of facilities.  As a result, the division has since acquired the Selah Hospital for this purpose.

            Since the acquisition and maintenance of Selah Hospital stems directly from legislative authority granted to the division, the conclusion is inevitable that persons employed to administer the hospital's facilities are "employees of  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] the division of children and youth services" and as such are covered by the division's merit system.

            Section 1, chapter 217, Laws of 1957, established "an institution for the care and custody of children and youth, to be located at Fort Worden."  The legislature's purpose in establishing this institution is repeated throughout the act.

            Section 3 authorizes the director of the department of institutions to "cause plans, specifications and estimates of cost to be prepared for the remodeling and alteration of said buildings for the institutionalization of children and youth."

            Section 4 authorizes the director "to transfer children and youth to Fort Worden who are now confined at, or who may hereafter be committed to, any other facility under the supervision of the department of institutions for the custody of children and youth."

            The declared legislative intent in establishing the division of children and youth services was to provide a comprehensive program for the care, rehabilitation and correction of children and youth.  Similarly, the acquisition of Fort Worden was designed to make available an additional facility for the care and custody of such children.  In keeping with the singleness of purpose of these two acts, the director has, for administrative purposes, delegated management of the Fort Worden institution to the division.

            That he may do so is indisputable.  RCW 43.28.010 provides for the appointment of the director of the department of institutions "who shall be the chief executive and administrative officer of the department."

            As a general rule, a public officer charged with the performance of official duties has the power to delegate his authority to a person authorized by law to act in his capacity.  43 Am.Jur. 219, 220, 221, Sec. 461-3.  The supervisor of the division of children and youth services has such capacity since, by the terms of RCW 43.19.280, he is deputized as an assistant director.  A deputy is one who is appointed as the substitute for another and empowered to act for him in his name and behalf.  43 Am.Jur. 219, Sec. 460.

            The duties of a public office include all those which fairly lie within its scope, those which are essential to the accomplishment of the main purposes for which the office was created, and those which, although incidental and collateral, are germane to or serve to promote or benefit the accomplishment of the main purposes.  43 Am.Jur. 69, Sec. 250;State ex rel. Taylor v. Superior Court of King County, 2 Wn. (2d) 575, 98 P. (2d) 985 (1940).

            The control of Fort Worden, vested in the director, must necessarily carry with it the authority to determine the administrative structure within which  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] that institution is to be managed.

            The result of such a delegation is to place Fort Worden within the integrated program of services to children and youth, on the same basis as any other institution under the control and supervision of the division.

            In view of the foregoing it is our opinion that the employees of Fort Worden are employees of the division of children and youth and are therefore subject to the division's merit system.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

GERALD F. COLLIER
Assistant Attorney General

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