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Do I have a right to know if one of my students is charged with a violent offense?

Q: One of my technical center students told me he is going to court soon for a very serious offense. He would not tell me the charges but he is not allowed to go back to his job in the apprenticeship program. I am concerned that this student is still in my class and would like to get more information about his police record.

A: Most public school students are minors prosecuted in juvenile court.  Juvenile cases are closed and records are not open to the public.  VEA lobbied hard for an exception to give schools information on juvenile cases. Code section 16.1-305.1 was amended to require the Juvenile Court to disclose dispositions to the superintendent of the schools. Then VEA members complained that notice of the disposition did not get from the superintendent to the classroom teacher. So VEA lobbied for amendments to Virginia Code section 22.1-288.2. Now the superintendent must tell the principal and the principal must notify teachers and other school personnel who provide direct educational or support services and have a legitimate educational interest in the information.
But a student facing charges has not been convicted or adjudicated.   Virginia Code section 16.1-260 G requires the intake officer of the juvenile court to notify the superintendent of schools if a student faces certain charges involving a firearm, homicide, felonious assault and bodily wounding, criminal sexual assault, controlled substances, arson, burglary and robbery. Under Virginia Code section 16.1-305.2 the superintendent MAY disclose the charge to the principal and the principal MAY further disseminate the information. School administrators may have been told your student faces serious charges without sharing the information with you.

Contact your local Uniserv Director for help communicating with school administrators and documenting your questions or concerns that a student facing serious criminal charges poses a risk in your vocational class. 


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