Skip to comments.Arizona Legislation would allow policies on questioning students
Posted on 01/24/2005 1:15:11 PM PST by hsmomx3
PHOENIX (AP) -- A parental rights issue that pitted school officials against law enforcement advocates apparently is being settled with a compromise.
A bill (SB1044) to give districts legal authorization to adopt notification policies -- policies that many districts already have adopted -- easily cleared the Senate K-12 Education Committee last week.
The legislation, introduced by Republican Sen. Linda Gray of Glendale, comes a year after lawmakers failed in efforts to work out a compromise to deal with the conflicting concerns about parents' rights and effective law enforcement.
Many districts had already adopted a long-standing policy recommended by the Arizona School Boards Association to require principals to call parents -- and even wait for them to arrive -- if police want to interview a child, unless it involves allegations of abuse at home.
However, legislators took up the issue after then-Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said the policy was too restrictive and interfered with police work.
Much of the political steam in the issue was released last spring when state Attorney General Terry Goddard issued an opinion. Goddard said state law does let schools set policies on notification of parents but that schools should not notify parents if police want to talk to a child about allegations of wrongdoing by the parents or if delaying interviews would endanger public safety.
More guidance came last year when the Arizona Supreme Court overturned a Tucson high school student's juvenile conviction on weapons charges because police refused to let his mother attend an interrogation at school.
This year's legislation is similar but not identical to a Senate-approved measure that died last year amid budget-related controversy in the House and Senate.
The new version says a district's policy must include "reasonable exceptions" to parental notification and specify how police must wait for a parent before beginning to question a student.
"It's critical that the parents not be aware of the investigation at that time," police lawyer-lobbyist Eric B. Edwards said last week.
In a police-backed change not opposed by the School Boards Association, the bill was amended to prohibit districts' policies from being more restrictive than state law.
The full Senate will consider the bill, which also contains provisions on school crime-reporting requirements, after reviews by the Rules Committee and party caucuses. Senate passage would send it to the House.
On the Net:
Arizona Supreme Court: http://www.azleg.state.az.us
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