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Arlington School Board to Examine Police Partnership, Student Rights

by Bridget Reed Morawski April 19, 2018 at 5:45 pm 0

The Arlington School Board will hear an update on student rights and the partnership between schools and the Arlington County Police Department at tonight’s (April 19) meeting.

The board will consider a memorandum of understanding that details the ways by which Arlington Public Schools and ACPD intends to “foster relations of mutual respect and understanding in order to build a positive and safe school environment.” Police officers are embedded in schools full time via the department’s School Resource Officer unit.

The document goes on to note that “the vast majority of student misconduct can be best addressed through classroom and in-school strategies,” and enumerates the difference between school discipline and law enforcement matters.

School administrators and teachers are responsible for school discipline. SROs are expected to be familiar with the school division code of student conduct, the rules of individual schools, and their application in day-to-day practice, SROs should not be involved with the enforcement of school rules or disciplinary infractions that are not violations of law. However, SROs may remind students of school rules or disciplinary infractions with prior approval from school administrators.

Consequences of student misconduct should be effective, developmentally appropriate, and fair. Interventions and school sanctions should help students learn from their mistakes and address root causes of misconduct. School administrators will consider alternatives to suspensions and law enforcement officials may consider alternatives to referrals to juvenile court services and arrests for student violations of law.

The [School-Law Enforcement Partnership] shall operate in a manner to ensure children with disabilities receive appropriate behavioral interventions and supports.

Also discussed are policies relating to sharing information about students, interviews and investigations, and searches.

A “student rights draft” has been drafted and is part of the presentation. In an effort to “empower students,” it describes the rights that students have and what interactions are and are not permitted between a student and law enforcement.

The police department previously published a pamphlet for students with “tips for interacting with law enforcement.” Advice includes “do not walk away from officers when they are trying to talk to you” and “if you are at a party where alcohol is present and the police arrive, do not run away and do not hide.”

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