A Lehigh County teen’s criminal record can be handed over to his college of choice. That’s according to a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling upholding a lower court order.
The teen, known to the court as “SD,” was convicted of downloading child porn. a misdemeanor, while still in high school. His sentencing judge said the courts should inform Temple University, where SD planned to go to college.
“The limitations on having this information follow them into their post-secondary education careers is critical to really ensure a smooth and successful transition at that point in their lives,” says Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia.
She called the court’s interpretation of the Juvenile Act’s notification requirements for elementary and secondary schools as also applying to higher-ed institutions unprecedented, saying that it undermines the chance for a reboot that’s a central part of the juvenile justice system.
“I think it will harm this young man, and I don’t think it will promote in any substantial or significant way public safety within the university environment at Temple,” Levick said.
The lower court had interpreted a section of the law that instructs courts to notify school principals as extending to the college or university setting. Levick says setting a new precedent on notification would be alarming.
While the sentence has been upheld, the teen’s attorney does have the right to ask for another review. The Lehigh County district attorney’s office said it could not comment.