New Va. law will require more school crimes be reported to law enforcement

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed a law that will increase the number of school-based incidents reported to law enforcement, and codifies the notification of parents whose children have been targeted.

Youngkin, a Republican, signed 23 bills into law Friday, including SB 36, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment, Jr. The bill is identical to HB 4, introduced by Del. Scott Wyatt.

When the law takes effect on July 1, school principals will be required to report to law enforcement certain acts — involving assaults, threats, guns and drugs — that may eventually be classified as misdemeanors.

Until now, school principals have only been required to notify law enforcement if the illegal act would qualify as a felony.

In addition, principals must report certain incidents “that may constitute a criminal offense to the parents of any minor student who is the specific target of such an act.”

Principals notifying parents of targeted children “shall report whether the incident has been reported to local law enforcement,” and parents can choose to contact investigators for more information.

The law allows local law enforcement and the commonwealth’s attorneys to disclose “information regarding terms of release from detention, court dates, and terms of any disposition orders entered by the court, to the superintendent, if in the determination of the law-enforcement authority or attorney for the Commonwealth, such disclosure would not jeopardize the investigation or prosecution of the case.”

The bill aims to maintain student privacy, saying no disclosures should be made that violate current confidentiality provisions. School principals are granted some latitude in choosing whether to report certain misdemeanors if the offender has a disability.

The new law specifies harsh consequences for school superintendents and principals who skirt the reporting law, including fines, suspension or dismissal.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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