Rush, Chief Justice.
The vital mission of educating our youth requires schools to daily provide safety, security, and student discipline. In recent decades, schools have turned to resource officers for help. These officers protect students and staff, offer mentorship—and, yes, help with discipline and criminal investigations. As their presence has grown, so too have questions of students’ constitutional rights. Today we address for the first time one of those questions: when are students entitled to Miranda warnings at school?
Here, in response to a bomb threat on a bathroom wall, thirteen-year old B.A. was escorted from his bus and questioned in a vice-principal’s office. Officers hovered over B.A. and encouraged him to confess, but no one gave him Miranda warnings.
We hold that B.A. was in police custody and under police interrogation, so he should have been Mirandized. We therefore reverse his delinquency adjudications.
Facts and Procedural History
Scribbled in pink marker in a Decatur Middle School boys’ bathroom came the threat: “I will Got A bomb in the school Monday 8th 2016 not a Joke.” School Resource Officer Tutsie “immediately went into investigative mode” and soon narrowed the suspects to two students—including thirteen-year-old B.A. The next Monday, February 8, 2016, school resource officers and administrators walked through the school and found it safe. Then, when B.A.’s bus arrived, Vice-Principal Remaly and School Resource Officer
Lyday removed B.A. from his bus and escorted him to Remaly’s office. B.A. sat in front of Remaly’s desk while Officer Lyday stood a few feet away. Early in B.A.’s interview, Officer Tutsie came in and took Officer Lyday’s spot while Officer Lyday moved to sit at a conference table behind B.A. Around that same time, a third school resource officer Officer Wheeler—came in and sat at the conference table. All three officers wore police uniforms.
Read the entire opinion here.
Randall Parr handles juvenile and CHINS cases throughout Indiana. Contact him here.