Is it legal for a teacher and/or principle to discuss a juvenile’s alleged criminal charges with his staff as well as the student body?

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Is it legal for a teacher and/or principle to discuss a juvenile’s alleged criminal charges with his staff as well as the student body?

My son was arrested this morning for a breaking and entering charge. He hasn’t confessed or admitted to anything. While sitting at the police station I received several calls from students informing me that a teacher was discussing with each class that my son had been busted and that his family (myself, etc.) were to blame. I live in a small town and my youngest daughter attends this school and after a day of the rumors and being picked on she is deeply affected.

Asked on August 30, 2011 Oklahoma

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This arrest is probably and most likely public knowledge. The fact that you have no idea what was discussed is an issue. If it is public, it is legal to discuss. Whether it is ethical is an issue for the school board to decide, especially if your daughter is being bullied. You need to get some hard proof of what the content of the discussion was (a recording, an email, affidavits from other students) and take this to the superintendent of schools and the board and explain that this needs to stop or you will take legal action. You need a formal, written apology but please understand that pursuant to the First Amendment, anyone is allowed to discuss this item as long as it is not defamatory. Truth is a complete defense to defamation and in a criminal action, you want to make sure you find out what the contents of those discussions among staff and students really are.


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