Shawnee Mission School District policy requires warrant for officers to question student without parent permission

Briarwood Elementary was the top ranked elementary in northeast Johnson County, coming in at 40 overall.
Briarwood Elementary was the subject of a news report which was disputed by the school district.

Under Shawnee Mission School District policy, law enforcement officers cannot question students during school hours unless the parent has given permission, a warrant has been presented or it is a demonstrated emergency.

The question of district policy became an issue following a television report involving Briarwood Elementary School in Prairie Village. Also, the Kansas City, Mo., school district this week passed a policy that does not allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from removing a student from school without a warrant. The Kansas City, Kan. district passed a similar policy recently.

In Shawnee Mission, the policy applies to all law enforcement and not just ICE. A district spokesperson said the effect of the Shawnee Mission policy would be the same as the Kansas City policies regarding ICE officers coming to a school.

The Shawnee Mission District does not collect immigration status on students or parents. “We are in the business of educating children, and we serve all children if they live in our district,” Director of Communications Shawna Samuel said in an email.

Regarding the report about Briarwood specifically, the district said, “There was never an ICE agent who was on Briarwood’s school property. There was not an arrest of anyone at Briarwood. No child was removed from a classroom or in front of other students at Briarwood by ICE or the police.”

Several social media postings Friday morning expressed concerns about Shawnee Mission policy regarding ICE investigations.

Shawnee Mission added a statement regarding the issue to its site this afternoon.

Sections of the Shawnee Mission policy are excerpted below:

Law Enforcement Initiated Investigations at School
In cases not involving the investigation of known or suspected child abuse, law enforcement officers shall not be permitted to initiate and conduct investigations involving the questioning of students during school hours unless the student’s parent or guardian has given the school permission to allow the questioning, a valid warrant has been presented to the principal for such purpose, or in demonstrated emergency situations.  If a demonstrated emergency is found, the principal shall require identification of law enforcement officials and reasons for the interrogation or investigation of a student.  If the principal is not satisfied with either the identification or the reason, the request shall not be granted.  The principal shall attempt to notify the associate superintendent and the officer’s superiors of the reasons for the refusal.

Taking Students Into Custody
Students shall not be voluntarily released by school officials to law enforcement authorities unless the student has been placed under arrest or taken into custody by law enforcement or Department for Children and Families (“DCF”) authorities pursuant to a child abuse investigation.  Except as otherwise specified in this policy, reasonable effort shall be made to notify the student’s parents, guardian or representative when students are removed from school for any reason.  Parents shall not be notified by school officials when their child is taken into custody by DCF and/or law enforcement as a result of allegations of abuse or neglect. If a student is taken into custody by a school district resource officer, school administrators shall also make a good-faith effort to contact parents. Notification efforts shall be documented.

When a student has been taken into custody or arrested on school premises without prior notification to the building principal, the school staff present shall ask the law enforcement officer to notify the principal of the circumstances as quickly as possible and shall themselves contact the principal with any information they have regarding the child being taken into custody.