When public school students admit to violating of school rules to their principals, they may also be admitting to a violation of criminal law. Increasingly, principals share these confessions with local law enforcement and the students are charged in a criminal proceeding. Because principals, knowing the evidence will be turned over to law enforcement per school policies, are seeking evidence to use against their students, these students should be so warned before an interrogation with their principal. Though most prior case law involving student interrogations has been decided under agency law, the Supreme Court’s decision in Ferguson v. City of Charleston suggests a new framework to analyze student interrogations by school officials. Ferguson dealt with a Fourth Amendment search, but suggested the same analysis would be applicable in Fifth Amendment cases. Because Fourth Amendment school cases often value the same factors as in the Ferguson analysis, Ferguson’s test, which requires constitutional warnings when state actors seek out incriminating evidence, should also be applied in Fifth Amendment school cases.
Student Interrogations by School Officials: Out with Agency Law and In with Constitutional Warnings,
B.C. Third World L.J.