Wake school board considers new criminal investigation policy
Posted September 24, 2013
Cary, N.C. — 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.
"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.