MOORPARK : Board Weighs Police Access to Students

The Moorpark school board has voted to reconsider a proposed policy that would limit police access to students at school.

After three parents complained that their children had been questioned by officers at school without permission, the board considered a proposal in February to require police to give an hour's notice so that parents could be notified.

That proposal was reworded because of concerns by the school district attorney about denying police access, but school board members questioned the revisions at a meeting Tuesday night. The policy will be discussed again June 11.

"If a police officer intends to question a student, we must comply with that request. We cannot impede the officer," Supt. Tom Duffy told the board.

But three board members objected to the revised policy.

Pam Castro said the whole point of notifying parents before questioning by police was removed from the policy. And Patty Waters questioned a section allowing a principal to be present while a student is being questioned. "What happens when a principal is called into court because he heard a student make a confession?" Waters asked.

Tom Baldwin said he wants to make sure that students are told their rights by a school official, rather than a police officer who might read them their rights in a way they would not fully understand.

But Police Sgt. Marty Rouse, who was on hand to answer questions, told Baldwin that that position would put district administrators in the role of an attorney.

"You are putting your people into an uncomfortable situation," Rouse said. "You are influencing that child whether to waive or not to waive his rights."

The reworded policy was written by a committee that included the parents of an eighth-grader who had been questioned by police several weeks after a fire in a field at Chaparral Middle School.

"I feel we have a workable policy here," parent Scott Pozza said. ". . . It will work; we just have to make it work."

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