Sometimes the laws we make to protect ourselves and our families put other people into danger. Illinois has just passed a law that takes effect next year, whereby schools can seek criminal information about students from law enforcement authorities. However, the law says schools cannot record that information. Hence, there may be insufficient accountability built into the law.
For example, will the law enforcement agencies that orally share information with schools make a record of the conversations and the information that was passed? Who at these schools will be authorized to inquire about student criminal activity or investigations? Will the schools be required to record the conversations in logs that are not associated with student files?
While the intent of the law is to protect teachers, administrators, students, and other members of school communities from dangerous students, the potential for abuse may be hidden in the details. What if an angry student or administrator conducts a poison pen campaign against a student? Some schools have engaged in particularly bizarre conduct toward their students, conduct which has led to lawsuits, criminal investigations, and even a few convictions.
Although the vast majority of educators and administrative staff can be expected to abide by the law (and it may only be invoked rarely anyway), what protections has Illinois put into place to prevent or deter abuse?
This issue may have been more fully discussed among Illinois’ citizenry but it’s only just now getting out to the rest of the nation. The news media may want to consider providing more background information when covering important changes in due process and legal systems.