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Young’s e-mail address is a middle school vice principal investigating a school-related incident is not an agent of a governmental agency who is required to read children the Miranda rights before talking with them, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on July 23. Commonwealth v. Ira I., No. SJC-08930. After receiving a report that a child had been assaulted by four of his fellow students shortly after being dropped off by the school bus, the school’s vice principal brought each of the four alleged culprits into his office. Three admitted to being involved and the vice principal had them write out statements. One boy maintained his innocence. Meanwhile, the police, which had been contacted by the victim’s mother, brought the four before juvenile court and tried to introduce the juveniles’ statements. The juvenile court granted the boys’ motion to suppress the statements and to dismiss the charges with prejudice. Reversing, the state’s high court first found that the motion to dismiss was based on the supposed violation of a discovery rule by the prosecutor. The court ruled that the vice principal was not acting as an agent for the prosecution and was therefore not required immediately to turn over the statements made to the principal. Then, ruling that the vice principal’s questioning of the students was not done “under the guise of a governmental agency” for purposes of the Miranda rights, the court said, “It is unrealistic to expect school officials who are responsible for addressing student behavioral issues to refrain from investigating allegations of students’ harming each other, and the mere fact that such officials are in positions of authority over students does not transform every interview of a student into a custodial interrogation.” The vice principal was under no obligation to give Miranda warnings, so the boys’ statements were admissible.

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