Young stowaway likely to reunite soon with Minneapolis family

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 8, 2014 - 4:05 PM

The judge praised the boy’s parents for their support of his progress.

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The father of the 9-year-old plane stowaway, his face covered by a hoodie and hat to ensure anonymity, talked to the media while V.J. Smith of MADDADS comforted him on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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A Hennepin County judge on Friday praised the behavioral progress of a Minneapolis boy who has been in protective custody since he stowed away on a Delta Air Lines flight to Las Vegas last year.

In a court hearing that detailed a two-month turnaround, Judge Joseph Klein said he was pleased enough with the boy’s development that he soon may be able to permanently rejoin his family. The boy, who turned 10 Jan. 15, has been placed outside his home under child protective services since October.

The judge also complimented the boy’s parents for their level of engagement and support.

“I’m encouraged by all the reports,” Klein said.

The boy gained national notoriety Oct. 3 when he sneaked past federal security agents at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and boarded a flight to Las Vegas by himself without a ticket.

During his flight to Las Vegas, flight attendants realized he was an unaccompanied minor who was not listed on the flight manifest. He was detained when the plane landed in Nevada, and was later returned to the Twin Cities.

The trip triggered a major security review at the airport, although only minor adjustments were made.

The boy, who had been suspended from school because of aggressive behavior, had a history of leaving home without telling his parents where he was going.

In late November, the judge and all of the other parties involved agreed it would be best for the boy to remain in protective custody, the details of which have not been publicly defined.

During Friday’s 15-minute hearing, the boy’s parents waived their right to challenge in court the county’s Children in Need of Protective Services petition. That means the county and the boy’s parents will continue working together to reunite the family.

Assistant County Attorney Cory Carlson said the boy, who wasn’t in the courtroom, is doing well in placement. He added that his parents have been deeply engaged in the boy’s therapy and family sessions, and that there have been positive interactions during their visits with him.

The boy’s mother, who has legal custody, is also working with his school to have him assessed for special education services.

Carlson asked Klein to increase visitation time and to prepare a home study plan for the boy’s probable return to his family by March 19, when the next court hearing will be held.

Robert Paule, the mother’s attorney, and all of the social and court workers involved in the case said they agreed with Carlson’s assessment.

When questioned by Paule, the boy’s mother said he has been doing much better emotionally and behaviorally.

Klein ordered that the case plan continue with an understanding that the family will probably be reunited soon.

 

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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