A law in Illinois is changing the way schools are required to go about criminal matters with students.
The law states, schools must notify and include a parent or guardian when students are questioned about criminal matters at school and prohibits students from being left alone during an interrogation by a resource officer or school administrator.
The law was prompted by the death of Corey Walgren, a 16-year-old Naperville North High School student who killed himself after he was questioned about an alleged sex tape by a school resource officer and a school dean without his parents’ knowledge.
Officials from the Adams County State’s Attorney Office said with an increase in criminal matters involving schools, it is important for laws to be updated.
“We always have to balance the minors best interest with the safety of the community, so that’s something that comes up on the daily bases here,” Adams County Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Friye said. “Of course we want juveniles to be protected and to have the benefit of the resources they need, but we do need to be concerned about the community at large.”
If a parent or guardian cannot be present during the interrogation, the school must have a mental health professional with the student.
Barb Chapin, director of development at Transitions of Western Illinois, said a student who has never been in trouble with the law may be afraid during the interrogation process, so providing someone to reassure things will be okay is important.
Chapin added teens tend to be impulsive, imagine the worst and jump to conclusions and advises parents to keep a close watch on their child and not leave them alone following a stressful incident, like being interrogated.
The changes to the new law took effect at the end of last month, to read more about the new law click here.