I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Law Enforcement Investigators Questioning Students at School Part III

At this afternoon's meeting of the Escambia County School Board, I initiated discussion of the district's policy regarding student questioning by law enforcement at school.

As I have discussed previously here and here, I believe the district needs a better policy which affords parents the opportunity to be present when their children are questioned at school for serious incidents which could potentially lead to civil or criminal liability (for the student and/or the parents).

At the meeting, members of the sheriff's office were present to advocate for the continuation of the existing policy which they described as "working well".  They want to keep the status quo on this issue.

But I have seen some issues arise which I believe necessitate a better policy.

Mrs. Hightower requested time to digest the data I brought to the meeting, and Mrs. Moultrie suggested she may be open to a policy change if  it is developed in coordination with law enforcement.

Mr. Thomas expressed his support for the current existing policy "as-is", and Mr. Boone expressed no opinion one way or another.

Mr. Slayton expressed support for the status quo with respect to the current policy, in alignment with Mr. Thomas and the Sheriff's department.

I will attempt to meet with members of the Sheriff's department over the course of the next month to get their input into a better policy, and  I will bring this revision to next month's discussion meeting.


Anonymous said...

If my child gets in trouble at school and it is something that could turn into a legal issue you darn right I want to be there during questioning! Don't we already bring parents in for thise situations?

Anonymous said...

If it ain't broke don' t fix it may or may not work here because who decides if the current policy is broke, the police, school, or parents if parents are concerned
It needs to be looked at

Jeff Bergosh said...

I don't think the policy needs drastic revision--it does need revison though, in my opinion. In light of recent rulings by the supreme court, I feel confident our policy will change. It took two years to have safe harbor added, over significant objection. It took 3 years for us to beef up drug dog searches, over objections. Drud testing athletes took two years. Big changes take diplomacy and time, but I am patient. I have no issue with LEOs doing their job, but I think it is most important to ensure to the best of our ability that students and their parents don't surrender their rights in the process without even knowing it. Students don't lose their 5th and 6th amendment rights just becuase they walk through the schoolhouse door. The policy I forwarded is thoughtful, intelligent, and strikes a balance between police duty and student/parent rights, and eventually it or something like it will replace our current anemic policy, that is my prediction. In the mean-time, those who have rejected this draft policy out of hand without even looking at it need to read it----it does not hinder us from doing our job in real time and it does not reduce student safety. Also, everyone needs to google JDB vs North Carolina to understand the way the winds are blowing on this issue. Police agencies hate it--but rights are rights and America has a system of checks and balances for a reason.