Outline of the state of Washington

Limits on Referrals to Law Enforcement

Limits on Referrals to Law Enforcement

State law requires districts to establish formal procedures governing referrals to local law enforcement.

Revised Code of Washington 28A.320.124 School resource officer programs.

(1) If a school district chooses to have a school resource officer program, the school district must confirm that every school resource officer has received training on the following topics:

  • (a) Constitutional and civil rights of children in schools, including state law governing search and interrogation of youth in schools;
  • (b) Child and adolescent development;
  • (c) Trauma-informed approaches to working with youth;
  • (d) Recognizing and responding to youth mental health issues;
  • (e) Educational rights of students with disabilities, the relationship of disability to behavior, and best practices for interacting with students with disabilities;
  • (f) Collateral consequences of arrest, referral for prosecution, and court involvement;
  • (g) Resources available in the community that serve as alternatives to arrest and prosecution and pathways for youth to access services without court or criminal justice involvement;
  • (h) Local and national disparities in the use of force and arrests of children;
  • (i) De-escalation techniques when working with youth or groups of youth;
  • (j) State law regarding restraint and isolation in schools, including RCW 28A.600.485;
  • (k) Bias free policing and cultural competency, including best practices for interacting with students from particular backgrounds, including English learners, LGBTQ, and immigrants; and
  • (l) The federal family educational rights and privacy act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g) requirements including limits on access to and dissemination of student records for noneducational purposes.

(2) School districts that have a school resource officer program must annually review and adopt an agreement with the local law enforcement agency using a process that involves parents, students, and community members. At a minimum, the agreement must incorporate the following elements:

  • (a) A clear statement regarding school resource officer duties and responsibilities related to student behavior and discipline that:
  • (i) Prohibits a school resource officer from becoming involved in formal school discipline situations that are the responsibility of school administrators;
  • (ii) Acknowledges the role of a school resource officer as a teacher, informal counselor, and law enforcement officer; and
  • (iii) Recognizes that a trained school resource officer knows when to informally interact with students to reinforce school rules and when to enforce the law;
  • (b) School district policy and procedure for teachers that clarify the circumstances under which teachers and school administrators may ask an officer to intervene with a student;
  • (c) Annual collection and reporting of data regarding calls for law enforcement service and the outcome of each call, including student arrest and referral for prosecution, disaggregated by school, offense type, race, gender, age, and students who have an individualized education program or plan developed under section 504 of the federal rehabilitation act of 1973;
  • (d) A process for families to file complaints with the school and local law enforcement agency related to school resource officers and a process for investigating and responding to complaints; and
  • (e) Confirmation that the school resource officers have received the training required under subsection (1) of this section.

(3) School districts that choose to have a school resource officer program must comply with the requirements in subsection (2) of this section by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

(4) For the purposes of this section, “school resource officer” means a commissioned law enforcement officer in the state of Washington with sworn authority to make arrests, deployed in community-oriented policing, and assigned by the employing police department or sheriff’s office to work in schools to address crime and disorder problems, gangs, and drug activities affecting or occurring in or around K-12 schools. School resource officers should focus on keeping students out of the criminal justice system when possible and should not be used to attempt to impose criminal sanctions in matters that are more appropriately handled within the educational system.

Policy Type