Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tommy Floyd Named KDE Chief of Staff

         Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has named Thomas G. “Tommy” Floyd to the newly created position of chief of staff at the Kentucky Department of Education. Floyd is currently the superintendent of the Madison Co. Schools.

         Holliday said the position is needed due to the large number of initiatives that the department is implementing related to Senate Bill 1 (2009), the state’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility waiver and the “increasing need to collaborate and coordinate with our stakeholders and partner groups.”

          In naming Floyd to the position, Holliday praised his work as a Kentucky educator. “Tommy’s focus on student success, data-driven decision making and continuous improvement aligns with the department’s efforts to better public education in our state. He recognizes the collaborative nature of our work and understands what it will take for all students to graduate college- and career-ready,” Holliday said.

Floyd has headed the Madison Co. Schools since March 2008 after serving as interim superintendent and chief academic officer for two years. During his tenure in Madison Co., he helped launch a number of new initiatives including a Middle College program, transitional mathematics and reading courses based on ACT benchmarks for college readiness and the Positive Approach to Student Suspensions that decreased suspensions in the district by 34 percent.

“Dr. Floyd’s departure from Madison County Schools leaves me with mixed emotions,” said Madison County Board of Education Chair Mona Isaacs. “I am sorry to lose such a hard-working, dedicated superintendent. But, I am very happy for him. This new role gives him the opportunity to make a positive impact on ALL the students in Kentucky.” 

Prior to Madison Co., Floyd worked in the Wayne Co. and Montgomery Co Schools, Somerset Independent Schools, and at the Kentucky Department of Education, where he was a Highly Skilled Educator. Over the last 26 years, Floyd has been a teacher, a coach, an assistant principal, a principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. 

            His recognitions include Kentucky Association of School Administrators’ Administrator of the Year, the Kentucky School Boards Association’s Kids First Advocacy Award and the national Reading Recovery Teacher Leader Award. 

Floyd serves on the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council; the Southeast/South central Cooperative and Kentucky Educational Development Corporation (KEDC) executive committees; and as a member of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators New Superintendent Training design team among other activities.

Floyd holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and master’s degree in Biology Education from Georgetown College, principal and superintendent certifications from Eastern Kentucky University and will be awarded a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Kentucky University in May.

He is married to Cecilia Floyd, a teacher in the Rockcastle County School District. They have two children – Morgan, a senior at Georgetown College; and Jonathan, a freshman at Eastern Kentucky University. 

            Floyd will begin as chief of staff at the Kentucky Department of Education July 1 at a salary of $131,000.

SOURCE: KDE Press release

Monday, April 29, 2013

D.C. custodial staff were evaluated by student test scores. Really.

This from The Answer Sheet:
How obsessive have school reformers been with linking student standardized test scores to the evaluations of adults in school buildings?

Well, a lawsuit filed in Florida today by seven teachers and their unions is asking for an end to the state’s evaluation system that insists that most teachers be evaluated in part by the test scores of students they didn’t teach — in subjects they don’t teach.

It may sound crazy, but it’s true. Read about it here.

And then there’s this: Until this year, Washington D.C.’s IMPACT evaluation system, begun under former chancellor Michelle Rhee in 2009, linked student standardized test scores to the evaluations of D.C. school custodians. Really.

The 2011-12 IMPACT guidebook for Custodian Staff (Group 19) included this:
School Value-Added Student Achievement Data (SVA) —  This is a measure of the impact your school has on student learning over the course of the school year, as evidenced by the DC CAS. This component makes up 5 percent of your IMPACT score.
This was omitted for the current school year. Jason Kamras,  chief of human capital for D.C. Public Schools (I didn’t make up that title), said in an e-mail that the 5 percent was dropped this year. Later, in a second-email, he said:
We originally included it to instill a sense of teamwork among all staff. But we found that our “Commitment to School Community” measure (a rubric of expectations for all staff) did so more effectively.
D.C. officials really thought linking a custodian’s performance evaluation to student test scores would “instill a sense of teamwork among all staff?” And they thought this for years?

Meanwhile, the District  continues to find new ways to link teacher evaluations to test scores.
For example, educators of really young children — who are not old enough to take the D.C. Comprehensive System exams which are the basis of the school system’s test-based accountability system — are still judged on standardized tests, just not the DC CAS.

Until this year, they, too, had 5 percent of their evaluations based on overall school standardized test scores and 10 percent based on non-DC CAS tests, This year, the 5 percent is gone and lumped in with the 10 percent, so now 15 percent is based on test scores, though not the DC CAS.

The 2012-13 IMPACT guidebook for early childhood teachers says in part:
Teacher-Assessed Student Achievement Data (TAS) This is a measure of your students’ learning over the course of the year, as evidence by rigorous assessments other than the DC CAS. This component makes up 15 percent of your IMPACT score.
“Rigorous assessments” for 3- and 4-year-olds”  Early childhood experts say that standardized tests and “rigorous assessments” should have no place in early childhood learning.

But they do in D.C. public schools — and plenty of other schools around the country.

No Rich Child Left Behind

This from NYTimes.com:
Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.

Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.

What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.

One way to see this is to look at the scores of rich and poor students on standardized math and reading tests over the last 50 years. When I did this using information from a dozen large national studies conducted between 1960 and 2010, I found that the rich-poor gap in test scores is about 40 percent larger now than it was 30 years ago.

To make this trend concrete, consider two children, one from a family with income of $165,000 and one from a family with income of $15,000. These incomes are at the 90th and 10th percentiles of the income distribution nationally, meaning that 10 percent of children today grow up in families with incomes below $15,000 and 10 percent grow up in families with incomes above $165,000.

In the 1980s, on an 800-point SAT-type test scale, the average difference in test scores between two such children would have been about 90 points; today it is 125 points. This is almost twice as large as the 70-point test score gap between white and black children. Family income is now a better predictor of children’s success in school than race.

The same pattern is evident in other, more tangible, measures of educational success, like college completion. In a study similar to mine, Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski, economists at the University of Michigan, found that the proportion of students from upper-income families who earn a bachelor’s degree has increased by 18 percentage points over a 20-year period, while the completion rate of poor students has grown by only 4 points.

In a more recent study, my graduate students and I found that 15 percent of high-income students from the high school class of 2004 enrolled in a highly selective college or university, while fewer than 5 percent of middle-income and 2 percent of low-income students did.

These widening disparities are not confined to academic outcomes: new research by the Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam and his colleagues shows that the rich-poor gaps in student participation in sports, extracurricular activities, volunteer work and church attendance have grown sharply as well.

In San Francisco this week, more than 14,000 educators and education scholars have gathered for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. The theme this year is familiar: Can schools provide children a way out of poverty?

We are still talking about this despite decades of clucking about the crisis in American education and wave after wave of school reform.Whatever we’ve been doing in our schools, it hasn’t reduced educational inequality between children from upper- and lower-income families.
Part of knowing what we should do about this is understanding how and why these educational disparities are growing. For the past few years, alongside other scholars, I have been digging into historical data to understand just that. The results of this research don’t always match received wisdom or playground folklore.

The most potent development over the past three decades is that the test scores of children from high-income families have increased very rapidly. Before 1980, affluent students had little advantage over middle-class students in academic performance; most of the socioeconomic disparity in academics was between the middle class and the poor. But the rich now outperform the middle class by as much as the middle class outperform the poor. Just as the incomes of the affluent have grown much more rapidly than those of the middle class over the last few decades, so, too, have most of the gains in educational success accrued to the children of the rich.

Before we can figure out what’s happening here, let’s dispel a few myths.

The income gap in academic achievement is not growing because the test scores of poor students are dropping or because our schools are in decline. In fact, average test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the so-called Nation’s Report Card, have been rising — substantially in math and very slowly in reading — since the 1970s. The average 9-year-old today has math skills equal to those her parents had at age 11, a two-year improvement in a single generation. The gains are not as large in reading and they are not as large for older students, but there is no evidence that average test scores have declined over the last three decades for any age or economic group.
The widening income disparity in academic achievement is not a result of widening racial gaps in achievement, either. The achievement gaps between blacks and whites, and Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites have been narrowing slowly over the last two decades, trends that actually keep the yawning gap between higher- and lower-income students from getting even wider. If we look at the test scores of white students only, we find the same growing gap between high- and low-income children as we see in the population as a whole.

It may seem counterintuitive, but schools don’t seem to produce much of the disparity in test scores between high- and low-income students. We know this because children from rich and poor families score very differently on school readiness tests when they enter kindergarten, and this gap grows by less than 10 percent between kindergarten and high school. There is some evidence that achievement gaps between high- and low-income students actually narrow during the nine-month school year, but they widen again in the summer months.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t important differences in quality between schools serving low- and high-income students — there certainly are — but they appear to do less to reinforce the trends than conventional wisdom would have us believe.

If not the usual suspects, what’s going on? It boils down to this: The academic gap is widening because rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students. This difference in preparation persists through elementary and high school.

My research suggests that one part of the explanation for this is rising income inequality. As you may have heard, the incomes of the rich have grown faster over the last 30 years than the incomes of the middle class and the poor. Money helps families provide cognitively stimulating experiences for their young children because it provides more stable home environments, more time for parents to read to their children, access to higher-quality child care and preschool and — in places like New York City, where 4-year-old children take tests to determine entry into gifted and talented programs — access to preschool test preparation tutors or the time to serve as tutors themselves.

But rising income inequality explains, at best, half of the increase in the rich-poor academic achievement gap. It’s not just that the rich have more money than they used to, it’s that they are using it differently. This is where things get really interesting.

High-income families are increasingly focusing their resources — their money, time and knowledge of what it takes to be successful in school — on their children’s cognitive development and educational success. They are doing this because educational success is much more important than it used to be, even for the rich.

With a college degree insufficient to ensure a high-income job, or even a job as a barista, parents are now investing more time and money in their children’s cognitive development from the earliest ages. It may seem self-evident that parents with more resources are able to invest more — more of both money and of what Mr. Putnam calls “‘Goodnight Moon’ time” — in their children’s development. But even though middle-class and poor families are also increasing the time and money they invest in their children, they are not doing so as quickly or as deeply as the rich.

The economists Richard J. Murnane and Greg J. Duncan report that from 1972 to 2006 high-income families increased the amount they spent on enrichment activities for their children by 150 percent, while the spending of low-income families grew by 57 percent over the same time period. Likewise, the amount of time parents spend with their children has grown twice as fast since 1975 among college-educated parents as it has among less-educated parents. The economists Garey Ramey and Valerie A. Ramey of the University of California, San Diego, call this escalation of early childhood investment “the rug rat race,” a phrase that nicely captures the growing perception that early childhood experiences are central to winning a lifelong educational and economic competition.

It’s not clear what we should do about all this. Partly that’s because much of our public conversation about education is focused on the wrong culprits: we blame failing schools and the behavior of the poor for trends that are really the result of deepening income inequality and the behavior of the rich.
We’re also slow to understand what’s happening, I think, because the nature of the problem — a growing educational gap between the rich and the middle class — is unfamiliar. After all, for much of the last 50 years our national conversation about educational inequality has focused almost exclusively on strategies for reducing inequalities between the educational successes of the poor and the middle class, and it has relied on programs aimed at the poor, like Head Start and Title I.

We’ve barely given a thought to what the rich were doing. With the exception of our continuing discussion about whether the rising costs of higher education are pricing the middle class out of college, we don’t have much practice talking about what economists call “upper-tail inequality” in education, much less success at reducing it.

Meanwhile, not only are the children of the rich doing better in school than even the children of the middle class, but the changing economy means that school success is increasingly necessary to future economic success, a worrisome mutual reinforcement of trends that is making our society more socially and economically immobile.

We need to start talking about this. Strangely, the rapid growth in the rich-poor educational gap provides a ray of hope: if the relationship between family income and educational success can change this rapidly, then it is not an immutable, inevitable pattern. What changed once can change again. Policy choices matter more than we have recently been taught to think.

So how can we move toward a society in which educational success is not so strongly linked to family background? Maybe we should take a lesson from the rich and invest much more heavily as a society in our children’s educational opportunities from the day they are born. Investments in early-childhood education pay very high societal dividends. That means investing in developing high-quality child care and preschool that is available to poor and middle-class children. It also means recruiting and training a cadre of skilled preschool teachers and child care providers. These are not new ideas, but we have to stop talking about how expensive and difficult they are to implement and just get on with it.

But we need to do much more than expand and improve preschool and child care. There is a lot of discussion these days about investing in teachers and “improving teacher quality,” but improving the quality of our parenting and of our children’s earliest environments may be even more important. Let’s invest in parents so they can better invest in their children.

This means finding ways of helping parents become better teachers themselves. This might include strategies to support working families so that they can read to their children more often.. It also means expanding programs like the Nurse-Family Partnership that have proved to be effective at helping single parents educate their children; but we also need to pay for research to develop new resources for single parents.

It might also mean greater business and government support for maternity and paternity leave and day care so that the middle class and the poor can get some of the educational benefits that the early academic intervention of the rich provides their children. Fundamentally, it means rethinking our still-persistent notion that educational problems should be solved by schools alone.
The more we do to ensure that all children have similar cognitively stimulating early childhood experiences, the less we will have to worry about failing schools. This in turn will enable us to let our schools focus on teaching the skills — how to solve complex problems, how to think critically and how to collaborate — essential to a growing economy and a lively democracy.

Testing, the Common Core, and Consumer Resistance

This from Top Performers:
Some consumers, evidently, have had enough. Parents in some schools are refusing to send their children to mandated testing sessions, and we have reports of teachers refusing to proctor them. What are we to make of this?

I can think of no high-performing country we have studied in which we have seen this kind of resistance to the development of tests that we are now seeing in the United States.  Why here, and now and what does it mean?

The answer lies in the history of testing in the United States, and, especially recently, how we have used our tests.

Though almost all the top-performing countries have tests that match their standards (Finland being the exception), they are unlike the typical American tests in important ways.  First, they are designed to match the curriculum, to find out whether and to what degree students have mastered the curriculum the teacher has been teaching.  American tests, for many years, have been designed to be curriculum neutral, meaning unrelated to the curriculum.  So American teachers have seen the basic skills tests they are familiar with as their enemy, testing things that they did not necessarily teach, and often don't believe should be taught.  The Common Core State Standards were developed, in part, to fix this alignment problem, but the standards are not yet implemented and there is no official curriculum available to teachers that is based on the standards and on which the tests themselves are based, as there are in the top-performing countries.  So it will not be easy to overcome an image of testing among teachers that is based on a professional lifetime of experience.

Second, American tests have been designed to be, first and foremost, cheap.  A testing director for one of America's biggest cities once told me, with great pride, that his city had never spent more then $1 per test per student per year and never would.  They cost as little as they do because of the multiple-choice, computer scored method of test construction that is so prevalent.  American teachers figured out a long time ago that these tests are great at testing the rudiments of the basic skills and not very good at testing complex skills, deep understanding, critical thinking or creativity, the things teachers want most to teach, another reason for them to detest the typical test.  In the top-performing countries, there is very little use of multiple-choice, computer-based testing.  Most tests are essay-based.  They are scored by teachers trained to score them and teachers generally feel that these examinations are testing the things they think really matter.

Third, the frequency of testing is very different in the United States from our top competitors.  They typically do major statewide or nationwide testing only two or three times in a student's whole school career, usually just at the end of lower secondary school (tenth grade) and again at the end of high school.  Most of the other testing they do at the statewide or national levels is done to monitor the performance of the system and is done by sampling a few students in a few schools.  The testing program mandated by No Child Left Behind—calling for six grades of testing, including five consecutive grades in elementary and middle school, an enormous testing burden—has no counterpart in the top-performing countries.

Not one of the top-performing countries has an accountability system remotely like that of No Child Left Behind.  No one in those countries is insisting, as the U.S. Department of Education does in its Race to the Top Program, that student scores on mandated tests be used as a major—perhaps the single most important—input into personnel decisions made about teachers.

So American teachers' experience of testing is very different from that of their counterparts in the top-performing countries.  They see cheap tests, unrelated to what they teach and incapable of measuring the things they really care about, being used to determine their fate and that of their students.  What is ironic about this is that, because these other countries do much less accountability testing than we do, they can afford to spend much more on the tests they do use, and so are getting much better tests at costs that are probably no greater than what we are spending for our cheap tests.

We will have to wait and see what kind of tests will be produced by the two state testing consortia.  It is rumored that they have been struggling to produce high quality tests, because they, too, are working in an environment in which schools and legislatures are not used to paying very much for good tests.  We have to hope that the developers of these new tests will not fall short of the ambitions their designers had for them.  If they end up looking more like the tests teachers are familiar with than the examinations the top-performing countries use, then millions of American teachers may rebel.  The Congress could, of course, abandon the nation's unwise commitment to grade-by-grade testing, which would enable this country to produce and administer tests and examinations as good as any in the world, and, at the same time, greatly reduce the testing burden on our schools.  But that would mean that it would also have to abandon the current approach to school and teacher accountability in favor perhaps of accountability systems of the sort used by the top performers, but I have not yet detected any interest in doing so.

The fate of the Common Core State Standards may well depend on what this country does about testing and accountability.  Maybe we should be listening to the sounds of nascent rebellion a little more closely.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Kentucky Supreme Court Vindicates Rosalind Hurley-Richards

Silberman's Firing of Fayette County Teacher Overturned

Hurley-Richards Not Guilty of "conduct unbecoming a teacher"

"Based upon our interpretation of the applicable law,
we conclude that Richards' conduct during the event under review,  
as found by the Tribunal and described in its final order, 
 did not constitute "conduct unbecoming a teacher."

 --The Kentucky Supreme Court 

Overshadowed by yesterday's Kentucky Supreme Court's ruling calling for Miranda warnings for school students, was the long-awaited appeal of Rosalind Hurley-Richards' case against the Fayette County Public Schools. She won again.

For those keeping score at home, Hurley-Richards 
  1. was accused of mishandling an unruly second grade child
  2. was suspended and then dismissed by FCPS Superintendent Stu Silberman
  3. Hurley-Richards asked for a Tribunal
  4. The Tribunal held in favor of Hurley-Richards and overturned the dismissal
  5. The Fayette County Board of Education decided to appeal
  6. In the Fayette Circuit Court Judge Ernesto Scorsone held for Hurley-Richards
  7. The Fayette County Board of Education decided to appeal
  8. The Kentucky Court of Appeals held for Hurley-Richards
  9. The Fayette County Board of Education decided to appeal
  10. The Kentucky Supreme Court held for Hurley-Richards
Got it?

 In 2009, as a teacher at Cardinal Valley, EITHER, Hurley-Richards...
"who had one arm full of school supplies, placed her other arm around [an unruly second grade boy] and proceeded to direct him toward the school’s office," according to the Administrative Tribunal.
OR, according to Silberman's dismissal letter, Hurley-Richards...    
"physically attacked a student who [she] had scolded for running down the hall, by grabbing the student, placing [her] arm around his neck and choking him. [She] then dragged the student to the principal's office while continuing to keep the student's neck in a choke hold and berating and yelling at him."
The Tribunal heard witnesses but didn't buy Silberman's version of the events. 

[Richards] had obviously unintentionally slid her hand around the neck/ shoulder area to keep the child moving forward next to her. Her hold on [the boy] was not sufficiently tight to prevent his crying and complaining and the adults who were at the situation did not react as if the child was in harm's way.
The question before the court was, “What is the meaning of the phrase, "conduct unbecoming a teacher," as used in KRS 161.790(1)(b)?” The question is significant because under the statute, "conduct unbecoming a teacher" is one of four reasons for which a public school teacher can be fired. 

The court agreed that “upon judicial review, deference extends to agency fact-finding. However, matters of law, including the interpretation and construction of statutes are…within the province of the judicial branch of government.

The court didn’t buy Silberman’s take on what really happened. 
Instead the court sided with Hurley-Richards, the Tribunal, the Circuit Court, and the Court of Appeals, and determined that the teacher’s actions did not constitute conduct unbecoming a teacher. It's not too difficult to understand why Silberman might want to appeal the case. But given the findings of the Tribunal, especially once confirmed by the Circuit Court, it's much harder to understand why the Board of Education agreed to appeal, after appeal, after appeal.

Here's the backstory from KSN&C:
Hat tip to Mark Walsh at Ed Week's School Law Blog.

Kentucky students must be read Miranda rights at school if police are present

Ky. justices: Officer's presence, custody key
This from the Courier-Journal:
Kentucky students must be given Miranda warnings — that they have right to remain silent and to have a lawyer — if they are interviewed by principals with a school officer present, a divided state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
Kentucky Deputy Chief Justice Mary Noble, right, Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. left.
In a 4-3 opinion that dissenting justices warned could endanger school safety, the court held that a statement from a Nelson County student who admitted giving two pills to another student must be suppressed because he was not read his rights first.
The student, identified as N.C., was convicted of illegally dispensing a controlled substance and sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Writing for the majority, Justice Mary Noble acknowledged that the case presented “far-reaching questions” and a conflict between “the rights of a juvenile accused of a crime and the needs of school officials to maintain order ... and protect other children.”
But the court held that incriminating statements must be suppressed when a school official is working with police and the student is in custody when questioned.
Tim Arnold, the post-trial division director for the Department of Public Advocacy, which represented the student, said the court struck a balance between protecting the rights of students and that of principals to maintain school discipline — while keeping them from becoming “stalking horses for police.”
“We are very pleased,” he said.
The court said Miranda rights don’t have to be read when only school discipline is involved.

But Wayne Young, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, said it is hard for school officials to foresee that incidents might turn into a criminal matter.

“It will put our folks in the position of having to make tough calls,” said Young, who warned “they may be a little paralyzed.”
In his dissent, Justice Bill Cunningham said he fears that principals and assistants, to avoid running afoul of the opinion, won’t use school resource officers, making investigations less effective and posing a risk to the principals’ safety.

“The majority’s insistence that keeping the peace in schools does not require the participation of law enforcement is a faulty assumption ... rooted in the nostalgia of a more innocent time when school discipline was all about ... throwing paper wads and erasers, bathroom graffiti and playing hooky,” Cunningham wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Daniel Venters.
They also disputed that a student is in custody just because he is questioned by a principal with a school officer present.
“The presence of a school resource officer, who by law must be a certified law-enforcement officer, does not make it a custodial interrogation any more than the presence of a priest would have made it a church service,” the dissenters wrote.
Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramson and Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. noted in a concurring opinion that, under the public-safety exception, students can be questioned without being Mirandized to find a gun that may have been left on school property.
The case began in 2009 when a Nelson County High School teacher found an empty prescription pain pill bottle on a restroom floor with a student's name on it.
School officer Stephen Campbell, an armed deputy sheriff, and Nelson County assistant principal Mike Glass escorted the student to Glass’ office, where he was questioned with the door closed.
The student, identified only as N.C., admitted that he did “something stupid” — brought three pills from home because he'd had his wisdom teeth pulled and was in pain, and that he'd given two to another student.
Campbell, now the Nelson County sheriff, charged N.C., who was later convicted, with his sentence contingent on the outcome of his appeal.
The Supreme Court said the decision hinged on whether N.C. was in custody, and it concluded that he was clearly was — he was interviewed in a closed room with an armed police officer sitting across from him.
“No reasonable student, even the vast majority of 17-year-olds, would have believed that he was at liberty to remain silent or to leave,” the court said.
It also said N.C. was never told he faced criminal charges or that any statement he made could be used against him.
“If he had been an adult under these same circumstances, there is no question that the statements would not have been admissible under Miranda,” Noble wrote for the court.

She was joined by Justice Michelle Keller, Abramson and Minton. Venter also wrote a separate dissent joined by Cunningham and Scott in which they said the statements should not be excluded because the defendant was a juvenile.
Juvenile law is designed to “improve the condition of trouble youths,” they said, and should not be sacrificed under the “dubious” notion that excluding illegally obtained evidence deters future misconduct by police officers.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ky Supreme Court: Tell students of rights before questioning

(The principal speaking over the school's public address system.)
Good morning boys and girls. Following our pledge to the flag this morning, we will start a new tradition in Kentucky schools - the recitation of our school Miranda Warning. Now, I know this will sound a little unusual at first, but after a week or so, I'm sure you'll be able to say it without thinking too much about it.

Now, repeat after me.
  • Every day when my Mommy and Daddy drop me off at school, I am in custody.
  • It's just like being in jail, except we do lots of fun stuff, and the jailers are nice most of the time.
  • I have the right to remain silent. In fact, my teachers would generally prefer this.
  • Anything I say to my teachers and my principal may be used against me in a court of law.
  • I have the right to consult an attorney or have my parents come to school before speaking to the principal or school resource officer.
  • I am allowed to have my parents or an attorney present during questioning.
  • If I cannot afford an attorney, and my parents won't come to school, my school will hire an attorney for me before any questioning.
  • If I decide to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, I will still have the right to stop answering at any time, until I talk to an attorney, or call my Mommy.
  • An important part of being a good student is knowing and understanding my rights.
  • And I know and understand my rights
This from the Herald-Leader:
Students must be informed of their legal rights - including the right to remain silent - before being questioned by school administrators working with police or school resource officers, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday in throwing out an incriminating statement in a drug case.

The ruling, issued by a deeply divided court, sets a bright-line rule for school officials pursuing both disciplinary action and possible criminal charges on school grounds.

The case centers on the arrest of a Nelson County student identified in court records only as N.C., who was charged with a drug offense after sharing prescription hydrocodone with a classmate at school.

Police charged "N.C." after a school administrator and officer questioned him about the medication and he admitted to giving a pill to a classmate. Justice Mary Noble wrote that because of the presence of the police officer and the lack of warning about possible criminal charges, the student should have been informed of his rights, commonly known as a Miranda warning.

"No reasonable student, even the vast majority of 17-year-olds, would have believed that he was at liberty to remain silent, or to leave, of that he was even admitting criminal responsibility under these circumstances," Noble wrote.

Justices Bill Cunningham and Daniel Venters dissented. Cunningham said the high court overturned the conviction of "N.C." without citing another similar case from any other state.

Cunningham said the presence of a school resource officer during questioning doesn't make the situation a custodial interview requiring a recitation of constitutional rights. Once a student arrives on campus, he or she cannot leave during the school day, the justice wrote.

"A student in a public school is always in 'custody'," Cunningham wrote. "The student is not 'free' to leave at any time after he or she arrives at school - in math class, in the hallway or cafeteria. The nature of the setting is continuous 'custody'."

Venters, joined by Cunningham and justice Will T. Scott, said the court should have taken Cunningham's logic further, striking down the use of admissions only to deter reckless or grossly negligent police conduct and in cases where it is obvious the statement was involuntary or under circumstances that cast doubt upon its reliability.

The issue arose in 2008 when an assistance principal at Nelson County High School in Bardstown found an empty prescription pill bottle for hydrocodone, a derivative of opium used to treat pain, with the name of N.C. on it on the boy's bathroom floor. After a short investigation, the administrator removed N.C. from class and took him to an office, then closed the door.

After being told where the bottle was found and informed that several pills had been given away, N.C. admitted to giving two pills to a friend who recently had wisdom teeth removed. The assistant principal told N.C. that he was subject to school discipline and the school resource officer told N.C. he would be charged with a crime. N.C. was later expelled from school.

Noble noted that the statement made by N.C. proved to be the sole basis for the criminal action.

"If he had been an adult under these same circumstances, there is no question that the statements would not have been admissible under Miranda," Noble wrote.

School officials may still question students for disciplinary reasons, but once law enforcement becomes involved, the student must be informed of their rights, Noble wrote.

Cunningham, joined by Venters, wrote that Noble erred in concluding that school disciplinary proceedings don't necessarily require law enforcement participation.

"This faulty assumption is rooted in the nostalgia of a much more innocent time when school discipline was all about classroom disruption, throwing paper wads and erasers, bathroom graffiti and playing hooky," Cunningham wrote. "That unrealistic statement is surely not meant for trafficking in hydrocodone as we have here. Or loaded guns and box cutters."

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/04/25/2614833/court-tell-students-of-rights.html#emlnl=PM_update#storylink=cpy