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Department of Justice Guide Provides Legal Update On Search And Seizure, Questioning Juveniles, Record Confidentiality, And Child Abuse Investigations
MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Justice has published a newly revised "Safe Schools Legal Resource Manual," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today. The Department is currently distributing the manual throughout the state to school officials, sheriff's and police departments, and district attorney offices. This manual is intended as a resource for Wisconsin schools and law enforcement in understanding the legal parameters for maintaining a safe and secure educational environment for children.
"While Wisconsin schools have an excellent safety record, no community is immune from school violence," Van Hollen states in the manual. "Shootings and other acts of violence in our schools, while fortunately rare, leave all of us frustrated as to what steps we can take to make sure such tragedies do not happen. Fortunately, it is possible to take the initiative and develop proactive strategies to minimize the possibility of school violence. One piece of the puzzle in keeping our schools safe is for school administrators, teachers, and child protective service professionals to be fully aware of their legal rights and obligations."
The Safe Schools manual is designed to enhance the knowledge of school officials and law enforcement officers about the laws related to school safety. The manual provides a legal discussion of school safety issues including student search and seizure, the questioning of juveniles, the role of the police liaison officer, the confidentiality of records, and child abuse investigations in the school. While the manual identifies the legal limits of school officials' discretion, it also encourages good communication, cooperation, and mutual respect between students, teachers and law enforcement for maintaining safe schools in Wisconsin.
In September 2007, Attorney General Van Hollen joined state attorneys general from throughout the nation in issuing a Report on School and Campus Safety. Among the observations made in the report was that school officials sometimes lack a complete understanding of the information that they can and cannot share based on existing state and federal laws, and that this lack of understanding limits information sharing that is appropriate under the law. The newly revised "Safe Schools Legal Resource Manual" provides a timely explanation of current state and federal laws that regulate information sharing within a school and between a school and other entities, such as law enforcement.
A copy of the "Safe Schools Legal Resource Manual" is available here.
A copy of the National Association of Attorneys General Task Force of School and Campus Safety Report can be found here.