If police want to question students in Racine Unified schools they'll need to notify the principal first, according to a new policy being considered by the School Board.
The board is considering the policy after a Horlick High School teacher was fined $200 for asking a police officer if they had a warrant to take a student out of a classroom. (Read the full policy here.)
Teacher Al Levie was fined in November 2008 after police pulled a student out of his classroom. Levie was fined after asking the officer a single question. Municipal Judge Mark Nielsen threw out the ticket in May 2009, but the city appealed Nielsen's decision and won. (Ironically, the student involved was not charged.)
In response to Levie's fine, Racine Unified reviewed its policies for law enforcement officers in schools. They're now considering a proposal that would allow police to pull students out of classes for interrogation, but only after notifying the school's principal. The principal, or a designee, would also have to be present when police interviewed the student.
Under the proposed "Guidelines for Law Enforcement Questioning and Apprehension," parents would not have to be notified if the questioning was meant to gather information about an incident.
If the policy had been in place in November 2008, the officers would have had to notify Horlick's principal they were going to question the student in Levie's class. The student would then have been escorted to the office where they would be questioned by an officer in front of the principal or another school official.
The policy also gives students the right not to talk to police, if the student isn't being arrested. For example, if police want to interview a witness to an incident, the student does not have to answer questions, under the proposed policy.
Despite having to pay the ticket, Levie said he was happy with the new policy and hoped the School Board approved it. "If my ticket prompted them to change the policy, it was worth it," he said.
The new policy is now pending before the School Board. To provide feedback on the policy, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org