Markell signs school crimes reporting bill

    With new law, Delaware school officials won’t have to report an incident to local police if the alleged offender is less than 12 years of age.

    Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed legislation Wednesday raising the minimum age for mandatory reporting of misdemeanor school crimes from 9 to 12.

    The bill addresses situations in which young students end up with arrest records because currently Delaware requires school officials to report to police all misdemeanor offenses committed by students over the age of 9.

    “This law gives our schools more flexibility to address disciplinary problems involving some of our young children,” Markell said. “It gives room for reasonable judgments to be made when it comes to reporting the actions of young children to police officers.”

    Currently, if a 9-year-old allegedly committed a misdemeanor — which includes third-degree assault and offensive touching — school officials would be required to report it to the police and, in certain instances, initiate criminal prosecution.

    Under the bill, school officials still would be required to file a written report of the incident with the superintendent, who in turn must file a written report with the Department of Education. However, school officials do not have to report the incident to local police if the alleged offender is less than 12 years old.

    “You want to be consistent and fair with how you administer discipline, but you also have to want to do the right thing for the student,” said Rep. Darryl Scott (D-Dover). “By signing this bill, we are not abdicating our responsibility with school discipline. Rather, we are allowing schools to address issues in an appropriate manner without unduly subjecting children to the criminal justice system.”

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