Update 2: The legislation never got referred to the committee and as a result must be re-introduced next session. Unfortunately, Rep Kestell is retiring and Sen Leibham is running for Congress, so both of my legislators, who acted as sponsors for this legislation are likely to be gone(although I will grant that Mr. Leibham will have stiff competition for Rep Petri's seat in Sen Grothman.) I own to some disappointment. You may see the latest update here.
Update: The legislation is currently known as LRB-0413/1 An Act relating to parental notification for questioning pupils about criminal activity. Please reference that number when you call your legislators. This piece of legislation needs co-sponsors before it is given a number as a bill. There is one week left for your Senator/Representative to sign on as a co-sponsor.
For whatever reason, this refuses to display legibly. The text reads as follows:
"AN ACT to create 118.315 of the statutes; relating to: parental notification for
questioning pupils about criminal activity.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill prohibits an official, employee, or agent of a public, private, or charter
school from questioning a pupil attending the school about criminal activity without
notifying the pupil’s parent unless the official, employee, or agent suspects that the
pupil is being abused or is the victim of certain specified crimes and the questioning
relates to the suspected abuse or crime.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows.
118.315 Questioning pupils about criminal activity. (1) Except as
provided in sub. (2), an official, employee, or agent of a public, private, or charter
school may not question a pupil attending the school about a suspected or alleged
violation of any state or federal criminal law without first notifying the pupil’s parent or guardian."
It has taken 7 years since my child was subjected to this sort of interrogation. It is an inherently harmful thing. The "story" from the school was that they wanted to get him to confess to making a false bomb threat because of some graffiti someone made in a bathroom near his locker. (Graffiti, I can say with confidence, that he never even saw.) Making a false bomb threat is a felony. It is punishable by up to ten years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. There is a zero tolerance policy in place for this crime and there is no leniency for minors.
It is my opinion that the school did this because I refused to sign the paper saying they could contact his former teachers. ( I had been homeschooling for the last 5 years- they had MY number.) They said they had no way to assess his character. This in spite of the fact that he had, less than six months prior to his enrollment, organized, emceed and performed in a benefit concert for his Scoutmaster who had lost an arm, among other things. He raised over $11,000 and the concert was covered not only by the local paper but also by a satellite radio program that had a national audience. They said they didn't read the local paper.
His grades dropped from A's and B's to D's and F's for that semester. He brought them back up by the end of the year and his grades in the charter school we sent him to after that year were A's and B's. He earned his Eagle award in Scouting, but the damage had been done. His grade point average for high school was .1 below the required GPA for many of the scholarships for which he could otherwise have applied.
He is an exemplary young man who is currently supporting himself and getting through college without taking on debt. The psychological damage to our family is high. I am still angry and it has been seven years. I refuse to volunteer any more as I don't care to help anyone in the local community that treated us this way and left their own children so vulnerable. Prior to this, I had donated thousands of hours of my time as a volunteer. I did serve on the Governing board of the charter school until it became apparent that, contrary to the wishes and expressed opinion of the now deceased founder of the school, this sort of thing would be the rule there too. I resigned.
When I first contacted Sen. Leibham, he said legislation was under discussion for this issue already because it had been happening to many families around the state. In the end, the law enforcement unions and teachers unions opposed it so strongly that they dropped it. Not me. It wasn't until the protests at the capital showed those unions for the real human beings they are-rather than the saints they are so often portrayed as being - that Sen Leibham consented to try again.
There were many hurdles along the way. The DOJ's office required nearly daily phone calls for a month when weekly and monthly calls were not working to produce the necessary answers.
Finally there was a draft. A few revisions later, (Thank you Alex Hansen and good luck in grad school.) we had something ready for the drafting attorneys. A few more back and forths and here we are, with a brand spanking new bill, desperately seeking co-sponsors.
A bill that recognizes the current reality that our public and private school teachers and administrative personnel cannot be trusted to call us before they engage on a potentially life changing course of action with regard to our children's future. One that is traumatic to both child and family, if my own experience is any guide.
Our children have the same rights as any other American. What they do not have, is the knowledge of how to properly exercise those rights and, in the case of younger children, the ability to stand up to an adult to do so. This bill does nothing more than remind our educators and law enforcement personnel that our children have unalienable rights too. That we, as parents, do NOT include the right to question our child about anything for which criminal charges may be filed against them without notifying us FIRST.
When school personnel engage in such questioning, they have left the position of acting in the best interests of the child and turned to acting in the best interests of the school(or so they say) and that leaves our child with no one to act in their best interests, (as a parent would), in a very perilous situation indeed.
Please call your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor this bill within the next two weeks. Your children deserve it and require it. They need your protection in this matter.
The line for the capital switchboard is:1-800-362-9472 (266-9960 in Madison)
The website to find your Senator is here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/pages/waml.aspxor here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/Pages/leg-list.aspx?h=s
Other posts referencing this issue are:
"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. "~ Psalm 127:3-4
"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." Luke 18:16