School Board reviews policy on searches

County approves action for student investigations

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At its 4 p.m. work session Thursday, the Moffat County School Board:

• Heard a report from Matt Beckett, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition director for Moffat County, about the 2007-08 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey conducted at Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School during the last school year. The survey indicated that parental attitudes favorable to antisocial behavior, students' lack of commitment to school and early initiation into antisocial activities act as three main elevated risk factors for students in Moffat County.

• Reviewed Regulation 1511.1, Parent Communication, which spells out how and when schools should contact parents about their child's academic progress and behavior. Concerning student behavioral issues, the regulation requires teachers to, in most circumstances, contact parents by the end of the day after the incident occurred.

• Reviewed academic growth across the district.

At its 6:30 p.m. monthly meeting, the Moffat County School Board:

• Approved a resolution to support Amendment 59, also known as Savings Account For Education.

• Approved a first reading to repeal Policy 4331.4, Salary in Lieu of Medical Insurance. School Districts are no longer allowed to offer employees salary in place of medical insurance, Superintendent Pete Bergmann said, which required the school board to formally repeal the policy.

• Approved a resolution to support Referendum O. The proposed measure would require a minimum number of signatures from residents of all state congressional districts for proposed amendments to the state constitution.

On Thursday, the Moffat County School Board approved a first reading of a policy that governs under what circumstances students may be searched and questioned at school.

The policy spells out the roles of school personnel and law enforcement officers in cases where students have, or are suspected of, violating district policy or the law. It also outlines when and how parents should be involved when their child is searched or questioned at school.

The policy would allow school principals or a designee to interview students without parental consent when administrators have cause to suspect that students have violated school or district rules.

It allows school personnel to search students' personal belongings or person while they are on school property or are participating in school activities.

However, all student searches would be subject to certain rules. For instance, a search of a student's person must be conducted in privacy by an authority of the same sex as the student.

When a search requires a student to remove more than outerwear, including coats and hats, the operation must be turned over to law enforcement officials.

Searches aren't limited to students.

The policy also authorizes administrators to seize "illegal, unauthorized or contraband materials" during searches of student's personal property, according to the policy. These searches, which may be conducted without prior consent from parents or guardians, could be conducted randomly. However, Superintendent Pete Bergmann doesn't believe school personnel need to resort to that option.

"The bottom line is, we can, but we wouldn't," Bergmann said when school board member Tony St. John asked if school personnel could randomly search a student's personal belongings.

Students' cars parked on school property would be subject to routine patrols, and vehicle interiors could be searched if a school personnel member has "reasonable grounds for suspecting that the student has violated or is violating rules of the school," the policy reads.

The policy also outlined requirements for school administrators in search, questioning and seizure procedures.

Administrators would be required to explain the reason for the search whenever possible and contact the parents of searched students at the earliest opportunity.

The review was more of a formality than a policy change. The policy is one of several the school board has revisited after the Colorado Association of School Boards recently recommended policy updates to state school districts. Moffat County schools already are practicing most of the policy's requirements, Bergmann said.

A group of district administrators recently reviewed the policy, using feedback from Craig Police Department Chief Walt Vanatta and Police Department Commander Bill Leonard.

Bergmann stopped short of saying the policy is something the district refers to on a regular basis.

However, "We use this policy far more than we'd like to," he said, adding that it's not unusual for the school district to refer to the policy every month.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

Comments

taxslave 6 years, 2 months ago

Appears to me that most of you could care less about the Constitution.

Shame.

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Tom Soos 6 years, 2 months ago

Random Searches conducted without reasonable cause? Sounds like the students of Moffat County are getting closer and closer to having their Constitutional Rights violated on an even grander scale. And as parents we may not even be notified. The best part of all of this is that our tax dollars are paying to have our children treated as criminals at the whim of a teacher or administrator. Before long the inmate at the Moffat County Jail will have more rights than our children. The school administrators and the School Board need a reality check.

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grannyrett 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't know Conscience--Many places of employment have random drug tests. What's the difference?

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grannyrett 6 years, 2 months ago

I, as a parent, would want to know where-not if-the drugs or other contraband is in this or any other school. I don't want it around my kids, or your kids. Seems to me that if you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about. I want my grandkids to be in an environment where they will focus of learning and not on who is dealing. If it gets drugs out of the school, and gets those who are selling drugs out of the school-hopefully into jail-then I don't see anything wrong here.

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DV8 6 years, 2 months ago

The difference is that UA's are used to determine if you keep your job or not, usually nothing more. What the school does is search, question, etc and turn it over to the police, to allow the police to forward the information to the District Attorney's office without being bothered by things like civil and Miranda rights. School officials don't have to tell a student "anything they say can and will be used against them", the school officials don't have to have a parent or attorney present to talk to students (the police do), and they can search them for no reason (the police need a warrend and/or probible cause). This is simply another tool the DA office uses to circumvent laws and violate rights.

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JDR4 6 years, 2 months ago

"Seems to me that if you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about."

The call of the meek...

We dont live in a Country where this is the rule, The rule is Freedom, and ONLY when probable cause is presented, should mine or anyone elses personal space be violated.

Children have rights, but most of those rights are though the parents. At least thats how it used to be. Now we just kinda kick the parents to the side and go straight to the kid, and if we step on the parents rights, or the childs...

"Well, its for the good of the village". Thats how its sold, and thats how youll buy it. The people wanting to run your life like it that way.

But really, there is a system of checks and balances, and a thing called the constitution. No drugs, violence, or any other distraction will get True Americans to change the rules "for the sake of justice, or in the name of cleaning the streets" its all just another control over your life, directly or indirectly you will be affected, and eventually something you hold dear, like freedom, is ripped right out of your hands without you even knowing it.

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grannyrett 6 years, 2 months ago

Kids in school with contraband will be able to exercise their constitutional rights. That's what our courts are for. I don't want drugs or firearms in our schools. Don't police use dogs to detect drugs during the course of their jobs? Airports use them for security. If I don't have any drugs or contraband in my possession, what am I worried about? If I have something illegal, I guess I'd better be worried. If this helps keep this stuff out of our schools, I'm all for it. Criminals seem to have more rights than the law abiding citizen, so don't worry about someones rights getting trampled. If someone gets caught with drugs, you won't believe how many rights they have.

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DV8 6 years, 2 months ago

I agree, if someone is committing an illegal act, something needs done. If they have drugs, they should be prosecuted. And in most communities if you are not doing anything wrong, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

Unfortunately, we have a DA's office that likes to turn children into criminals. They will find something illegal to charge them with when they violate school rules. The schools are incompetant in handling situations and won't do anything unless the police and courts can get involved. The current regime in the DA office believes that felony charges and probation are a rite of passage for children.

I believe criminals should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I believe that offenders have too many rights. I believe that the DA's office lets off dangerous adult offenders with slaps on the wrist, while they wage a war on children.

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AltitudeAdjustment 6 years, 2 months ago

Who ever told you that Kids have constitutional rights? They have civil liberties, but they don't have constitutional rights - not the same way adults do. Kid's "rights" to due process are circumvented everyday. They can't vote, they have all kinds of legal issues surround ownership of property, they can't marry until a certain age. They can't own a hand gun. Right to search and seizure isn't afforded to them either. Their parents can search and seize anything they want to with no recourse. Sure it sucks to be a kid because you get taken advantage of all the time, but we've been doing it for 200+ years in this country. Heck, I can take my kid's birthday away from them and they can't do anything about it.

On the school issue, lets get a couple things straigt. First, they don't own the lockers they squat in at school, the school owns the locker. They are allowing them to store "school related" material in them during the school year. The school has every right to know what is in a locker. Same goes with their bags. You don't get to get on an airplane without having your bags searched, so why should school be any differnt for kids. I am not bringing chemicals or weapons on a plane so I have no problem with them searching my bags or other's bags for that matter. The same goes for my kid's school bag. I don't let them bring stuff they shouldn't, so if they are sneaking stuff, I would like to know the school district is taking extra precautionary measures to stop it from happening. Even if it means violating my child's "privacy." If my kid needs to be stripped naked because they believe they have somethings on them, then I should be notified and present during the process, but other than that, bags, lockers, back-packs and the like are all fair game in my book. Second, after the eighth grade a kid doesn't have to go to school. It is the student and their parent's choice to be their. No one is publicly forcing them to go. If they choose to go they have to follow certain rules. Kinda like driving a car. Does a mandatory seatbelt law violate a person's rights? Sure, but if you want to drive (which you don't have to, but if you do you have to obey certain rules) then you better wear the belt or you get in trouble with the man. If you want to go to school, raise your hand, don't chew gum, and don't bring crap you shouldn't into the building or you will have to deal with the man - It makes sense to me.

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