In 2010, Maryland passed a law that allowed schools to be notified when a student is arrested for serious crimes such as assault or possession of firearms. In 2011, the Maryland House of Representatives considered a bill that would have added drug arrests to the list of required offenses reported to schools.
The goal of the current law is to prevent repeat offenders and improve school safety. After a student is arrested for a crime that requires reporting, school officials meet with the student and his or her parents or guardians. Occasionally others are included in the meeting, such as psychologists, in an attempt to address whatever issues led to the arrest.
Similarly, the idea for the drug offense reporting was to allow the school to take preventative steps after a drug arrest. However, at a hearing in March, critics of the bill voiced concern that the proposed law infringed a student’s right to privacy. The Maryland House Judiciary Committee issued an unfavorable report of the bill, and the state legislature adjourned in April without it passing.
Robert Farrell, the coordinator of security, safety and risk management for Allegany County Public Schools, recently told the Herald-Mail that he hears about a student’s arrest about once every week.
Balancing Between a Presumption of Innocence and Public Safety
Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. When police agencies contact schools after an arrest, the police and school officials are walking a narrow line between public safety and a student’s Constitutional rights. This is especially tricky as often the law affords juveniles extra privacy protection. For example, depending on the crime, juvenile convictions are often sealed in order to preserve the juvenile’s record as an adult and make it easier to get education and jobs later in life.
If your child has been arrested on a drug or other criminal charges contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Obtaining an attorney who understands your rights as a juvenile can greatly help to fight the charges against you and may help to limit the negative impacts of a criminal charge or conviction.