The chief lawyer for Maricopa County, Az., says public school parents have no legal right to be called or be present if police interview their children on campus. The Arizona Republic says the opinion contradicts “most school policies and shocks many mothers and fathers but is supported by police.” Next week, the Arizona Supreme Court will consider the issue of parental rights in police investigations.
Waiting for a parent to give consent slows down investigations and is against the law, said County Attorney Rick Romley. He told school districts in the county to rewrite or drop outdated policies. Romley said parents cannot decide if a child talks to police or needs a lawyer. “That right belongs to the kid, not the parent,” he said.
Last year, Charles Bremer’s 13-year-old stepdaughter was thrown out of school for bringing liquor onto campus. Bremer watched his daughter shake “like a nervous cat” during an interview with a sheriff’s deputy in her home with her mother at the table. Bremer can’t imagine a teenager understanding the right to remain silent or knowing when to break off an interview and demand a lawyer or to see his or her parents.
The Arizona School Boards Association and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office stand by their recommendations that school officials call parents before police talk with their child and, if parents request it, give them time to get to the school. “Is it mandatory? No,” said Robert Myers, chief deputy for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. He said the law isn’t clear, but judges are increasingly deciding parents should be present.