It is recognized that from time to time it will be necessary for the principal or a member of the school staff to question a student regarding a breach of the school rules or an incident that occurred within the school. It is also recognized that members of outside agencies, such as police officers and Children’s Services Caseworkers, may wish to interview a student at school during the school day.
School staff are expected to cooperate with the police or other appropriate civilian authorities in the execution of their duties. However, staff also have a responsibility to function in the place of the parent during school hours.
Under specific circumstances, a search of student lockers or property may need to occur following Administrative Procedure 357: Student Search Procedure.
Interview means an informal conversation with a student where the possibility of school sanctions or legal ramifications does not exist for that student. Based on the nature and duration of the interview and the age of the student, parents may be informed of the interview at the discretion of the principal.
Investigation means a formal interrogation of a student where the possibility of school sanctions or legal ramifications exist for this student as a result of this conversation.
Arrest means the act of taking the suspect into custody.
- The principal is responsible for protecting the individual rights of the student, which includes informing the student of the right to have parents and/or counsel present during questioning.
- Investigations and searches will be conducted in a manner that ensures that the rights of the student are protected.
- No person except the custodial parent, law enforcement officer, or Children’s Services Caseworker may investigate a student at the school.
- In the case of law enforcement officers wishing to investigate a student at school, the following shall apply:
- When authorized persons find it necessary to visit a school to investigate a student, the principal shall require them to report to the principal’s office, provide appropriate identification of themselves and make known the purpose of their visit.
- The principal shall question the law enforcement officer(s) as to the urgency of the matter, and if not deemed urgent or an emergency, they should be advised that they are to deal with the matter at the student’s residence in the presence of the parents or in another location not associated with the school and outside of school hours.
- Should the principal deem the matter to be urgent or an emergency and agree to permit the investigation to proceed, attempts should be made to contact the parents, except in cases where the investigation allegedly has to do with child abuse by the parent. If possible, parents or guardians should be present at the investigation. Should the parent be able to come to the school, the law enforcement officers shall be required to wait until the parent arrives.
- If the parent cannot be present, the principal or another staff member must sit in on the investigation where a child is under 12 years of age. The principal will bring the student to the office where the investigation will take place.
- If the parent cannot be present, for students who are at least 12 years of age but under the age of 18, the principal will bring the student to the office. The principal or designate does not automatically have the right to be present at the investigation. The student has the right to select his/her own counsel.
- The law enforcement officer is responsible for informing the student (ages 12-17) that:
- The student is under no obligation to give a statement.
- Any statement given by the student may be used as evidence in proceedings against him/her.
- The student has the right to consult with legal counsel or a parent or, in the absence of a parent or adult relative, any other appropriate adult (over 18) of his/her choice.
- Any statement made by the student must be made in the presence of the person consulted unless the student expressly waives that right, in writing.
- The principal may request permission to observe the investigation, and the law enforcement officer shall advise the student of the request. Should the student not consent, the principal shall not observe the investigation.
- If a police officer wishes to remove a student from the school, then the principal shall require the police officer to contact the student’s parents and advise them of the action being taken. If the parent cannot be contacted, then the principal shall immediately notify the Superintendent’s office.
- In the case of a requested investigation by a Children’s Services Caseworker, the following shall apply:
- When Children’s Services Caseworkers find it necessary to visit a school to interview a student, they shall be required to report to the principal, provide appropriate identification, make known the nature of the investigation, and indicate why the investigation must be conducted. In all cases of child sexual abuse or physical abuse causing bodily harm, Children’s Services Caseworkers are required to notify the police, who will investigate to determine whether charges should be laid. Joint investigations involving both Children’s Services Caseworkers and law enforcement officers may occur.
- If the matter is urgent and there is a need to conduct the investigation in school hours, the principal or designate shall facilitate access to the child.
- Interviews are to be permitted on school premises in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect when the investigation involves suspected physical/sexual abuse.
- The principal is to receive assurance from the Children’s Services Caseworker that the parents or legal guardian will be informed about the investigation if it involves a student less than 18 years of age.
- The responsibility for notifying parents about an investigation rests with the Children’s Services Caseworker.
- The principal should clarify with the Children’s Services Caseworker when contact with the parents will be made.
- It is recommended that the interview be conducted in private unless the child specifically requests that a teacher be present on their behalf.
- Children’s Services authorities have the power to apprehend a child where there is sufficient evidence to suggest the child is in need of protection.
- Children’s Services Caseworkers are authorized to take a student from the school during the course of an investigation, if apprehended, or if the child is under wardship.
- The principal shall ensure that a written record of the identity of the Children’s Services Caseworker, the date and time of the interview, and the name of the student being interviewed is taken and maintained on file at the school.