Wake County Schools

Wake school board considers new criminal investigation policy

Posted September 24, 2013

— The Wake County Board of Education on Tuesday discussed a proposed policy they say will protect students' rights in criminal investigations, but Sheriff Donnie Harrison says it isn't necessary. 

The plan would set additional guidelines for how school principals handle students who are in trouble with the law, including making sure students are aware of their rights, notifying parents, requiring a school official to sit in on an interview if a parent is not available and keeping records of interactions between students and officers at the school.

"I would want to know if my child were being questioned by law enforcement," said school board member Jim Martin. "We need to make sure school administration is present and knows what is going on. We need to make sure parents are notified. We need to make sure records are kept."

The proposal does offer an exception for dangerous and emergency situations.

Harrison spoke out against the proposal at the board's policy committee meeting Tuesday. 

Wake school board, local sheriff differ on criminal investigation plan Wake school board, sheriff differ on criminal investigation plan

"When we are investigating something, that is our job," he said. "There are occasions that things happen that we have to go to a school really quickly, but we still try to notify the principal or somebody that's in charge there, and I have no problem with that."

Harrison said he appreciates the intent of the proposal, but the law already protects students' rights.

"We are going to follow the guidelines we have to when we are investigating a case, whether it is advising of rights or having a parent there," he said. 

Martin said the proposal is meant to tell school officials what to do, not law enforcement.

"We are not dictating policy to law enforcement," he said. 


This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • givemeabr8 Sep 25, 5:56 p.m.

    Unfortunately, the officers like to charge Resisting Officer when an individual, be it a suspect or not, refuses to talk or says something that makes the officer mad.

  • itsyoureternalsoul Sep 25, 3:13 p.m.

    This is nothing more that another cover-up plan to make public schools seem more safe than they actually are.

  • dollibug Sep 25, 3:05 p.m.

    **** The Cary PD made him say what they wanted then when they find out it was a lie he gets in trouble.

    This is what the Cary PD do best....they do it their way OR they figure out a way to make it so. Perhaps they need to go back to school and learn what is taught in Police school and how what they learn is applied in their work. Things just might get a bit easier for them if they do what is LEGAL AND LAWFUL. No officer should be ALLOWED to interview any child without a parent being present. Actually no officer should be allowed to interview *anyone* without it being taped or a witness to verify exactly what happens....this might put a STOP to people being intimidated, pressured, threaten or coerced or whatever they care to *call what they do*. THIS SHOULD BE THE LAW*

  • Scubagirl Sep 25, 11:31 a.m.

    they NEED a policy that helps them hire bus drivers who are not pedophiles

  • lshudgins44 Sep 25, 11:11 a.m.

    "Keep the LEOs out of schools unless something criminal on an adult level is happening."

    Criminal on an adult level? If your kid steals my child's wallet, is it any less a crime than if I stole your wallet?

    A crime is a crime. Stealing, assault, etc. are no less heinous if committed by a child, than if committed by an adult.

  • NiceNSmooth Sep 25, 10:57 a.m.

    Shame on those adults and school officials for looking out for the students. Not every student being questioned by police are offenders, and a lot of times they are treated that way. This is to make sure that officers don't take advantage and intimidate minors.

    direction to my child is if LEO asks you a question about something you saw - you can not answer without a parent in the room

  • wildpig777 Sep 25, 10:48 a.m.

    so now you have law enforcement trying as hard as they can to shape interpret and craft school policy.i am not the least surprised-- I've told all you folks numerous times of law enforcements desire to abolish gun ownership rights of north Carolinians and the more intrusive law enforcement has become as it relates to schools.

    let me state IT IS NOT SHERRIFF DONNIE HARRISONS JOB TO INTERPERT WHAT THE SCHOOLS DECIDE ON POLICY. last I heard the standard byline that is always told to victims {suspects} is -- We don't write the law we merely enforce the law. Tell your story to the judge. which by now I hope most of yall understand is-- a lotta bull.

  • Mon Account Sep 25, 10:41 a.m.

    Keep the LEOs out of schools unless something criminal on an adult level is happening.

    Leave it up to school administrators and staff to run their schools and get parents involved. I remember when a kid in my high school brought alcohol (bottle of vodka) one day. I also remember that they were sent to the principal's office, their locker searched, the parents came in, and she was suspended for a week. No police involved. If she did that at the mall... sure, get the police.

    Our schools should not be handled like a penal system. Focus on education and community, not putting children through the ringer.

  • edtomjr Sep 25, 10:24 a.m.

    "If students took the time to pay attention in class they would learn these things. But those that committing acts requiring police intervention don't care to listen, they think they know it all."

    While they teach constitutional rights (but those can be very general to a student), they don't teach law, or proper procedures for that officers are supposed to follow, or what their rights are as far as dealing with police investigations. Often times police officers take full advantage of their lack of knowledge and intimidate them and the officers get away with it.

    Don't just blame students for 'not paying attention' or 'being investigated in the first place', some kids get in serious trouble, even if they are not a culprit, simply because it becomes a cop's word against theirs. Some of these situations could possibly be avoided if it was mandatory that there is some sort of adult mediation.

  • edtomjr Sep 25, 10:15 a.m.

    I'm not surprised a law enforcement officer would be against something that would protect the rights of minors. Shame on those adults and school officials for looking out for the students. Not every student being questioned by police are offenders, and a lot of times they are treated that way. This is to make sure that officers don't take advantage and intimidate minors.