– Statement of Bruce Boyer, Child Advocate and former CPS parent, and Stacey Platt, Child Advocate and CPS parent, Clinical Professors of Law, Civitas ChildLaw Clinic, Loyola University Chicago School of Law (for identification purposes)
The doctrine of in loco parentis in no way justifies the Chicago Board of Education’s alleged actions in removing children from their classrooms to question them without advance parental notification and consent. In loco parentis is a common-law doctrine in Illinois that confers upon educators the quasi status of “parent or guardian” of their pupils for the purpose of ensuring student safety and supervision during school-related activities. The intent of the law was to afford protection for children and impose the same obligation on school officials as it would a parent when a student participates in a school-related activity.
The law does not eliminate the parental right to notice of questioning of their children, nor does it remove the requirement of parental consent for any such questioning. It is not intended to permit schools or districts to replace or disrupt a parent’s right to supervise his or her children and exercise his or her legal rights as parents. Nor is it a license for schools and school districts to investigate and intimidate children, families, and their community supporters. Such activities, rather than helping students, harm them and their families, in violation of the doctrine’s purpose.
CPS’ purported defense of its process – namely, that they are only questioning children who do not ask for a parent or object to the interrogations – fails completely to account for the inherently coercive nature of the process they have chosen here. Children in the face of interrogation from authority figures cannot reasonably be expected to fully understand the nature of the board’s inquiry or to protect their own interests in the absence of guidance from their parents.
The decision to opt children out of testing rests with parents. After agreeing that parents had that right, the board required documentation — in some cases extensive and multiple — from parents who chose to opt their children out. If the board has a basis for now questioning students about the opt out process, that basis should be provided to parents, who may then determine whether or not they will permit their children to be taken from the classroom and questioned, with or without parental presence. The board’s failure to provide notice and respect the requirement of parental consent has rightfully placed it’s motivations into serious question.
Further contact, Stacey Platt: 773-732-2554