A recent article in The Virginian-Pilot about students accused of crimes brings to mind two important things parents need to know: First, do you know what crimes your child’s school considers serious enough to send him/her to an alternative school? Second, did you know that the school administrators have a tremendous amount of discretion as to the decision that will impact your child’s future?
As a criminal defense attorney and former School Resource Officer for the Virginia Beach Police Department, I know that how you handle an incident makes all the difference. In my role as a school resource officer I worked closely with School Principals, Administrators and the School Board, after an incident, to determine whether a student was a potential harm to other students or staff, and whether to criminally charge a student.
For example, if your child is prescribed Adderall and while at school gives a fellow student one of the pills. By law, your child has committed a Felony Distribution of Narcotics. That charge carries serious criminal consequences and getting involved early in the process can have a significant impact – in some cases that means taking full responsibility.
Crimes that happen at the bus stop or walking to or from school also fall within the jurisdiction of school discipline – even for minor non-expellable offenses. The key in both situations is early and proactive parental involvement. It may work out that after reviewing the facts and meeting with school administrators and the police officer, your child is never charged and is not displaced from his school.
Parents, if your child is accused of committing a crime while at school or under the school’s jurisdiction for discipline, I recommend that you meet with the school administration and show support for your child by pleading your child’s case. It is also imperative to seek competent legal representation from an attorney experienced with juvenile criminal defense because the situation involves more than just court decisions.
By the way, The student in the above example was never charged with Felony Distribution of Narcotics, received 1 day of In-School-Suspension, graduated a month later, joined the Marines and proudly served his country.