When I attended a DeBell community meeting a couple of months back, there were some very unhappy McClure parents. They had numerous issues but one was that two of their students had been pulled out of class - for different reasons relating to higher level behavior issues - and questioned by administrators. One of the fathers was upset that neither he nor his wife had been contacted about the questioning.
(By higher level behavior issues, I mean things like fighting, drugs found, etc.)
The father said something to the effect of "well, if it had been the police I would have been notified." That stuck with me and I finally got around to checking.
The policy in question that answers this issue is D78.00 School-Police Relations (it is to be reviewed as part of the on-going Board policy updates).
There is a section on "interviewing of students" which states that the district encourages any police questioning to take place "off school premises", "the principal shall permit a law enforcement officer to conduct any necessary questioning of students at school."
Also, "The officer shall advise and afford a student the same legal rights as an adult and the right to have a parent present during questioning if the student is twelve years of age or younger."
Kind of gray, no? I interpret that last sentence to mean the student has the right to remain silent and ask for his/her parents. However does that mean reading the Miranda rights? Will the principal and/or officer tell the child that he or she does NOT have to answer any questions until mom or dad gets there? And, under this policy, if the child is older than 12, he or she will be questioned.
When you were 13 if you were read the Miranda rights by a cop with your principal and/or counselor standing there, would you have known what to do? Sure, you could ask for mom or dad but that's not the same as saying "I won't answer questions without them." Police officers are very good at getting adults to talk, what about a kid?
I put this question into Google and happened to find a response from a Washington State attorney. He says:
Pulling a child out of a classroom for questioning certainly does not seem right, but it is perfectly legal and the child has no right to have a parent present. HOWEVER, instruct your child to tell the police that he either wants to talk to a lawyer before answering questions, or that he has been instructed by his lawyer not to answer any questions. The police must respect this response and not ask your child further questions.
Note, he says the child should say "lawyer", not parent.
If you have a middle or high school child, talk to them. Tell them that if ever something goes wrong and they are suddenly called into the office by the principal/counselor and/or police officer, they are to say "I can't answer any questions without my mom/dad/guardian here." That's their mantra.
Again, things happen. Someone could have stashed something in your child's backpack without your child knowing. Your child may be physically attacked and strikes out in self-defense. Whatever it is, let your child know to wait for you no matter what they get told by administrators or police.
There was also this odd bit in the policy under Emergency Situations:
a. In most circumstances, when a building principal needs to contact the police, the principal will initially contact the School Security office of SPS, which will in turn notify the police, if such action is warranted.
I'm thinking this is one part of the policy that needs rewriting. If it's an "emergency", then call the police FIRST. If you need police in order to arrest someone AFTER an incident, sure call School district security first