Sharing Student Incident Reports and Other Student Information with the Boston Police Department

  • POLICY SUMMARY

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    The Policy Regarding Preparing and Sharing Student Incident Reports and Other Student Information with the Boston Police Department describes how student information is reported and shared between BPS Safety Services employees (formerly known as Boston School Police) and the Boston Police Department (BPD). The policy describes the types of Student Activity that Safety Services employees may report in a Boston Police Report or a BPS Safety Services report, the information that may be included in that report, how reports and other information may be shared between BPS and BPD, how families will be notified when a report is written, and other reporting and training requirements for BPS staff. The full policy can be read here.

    Here are some questions and answers highlighting the key parts of the policy:

    What kinds of incident reports do Boston Public Schools Safety Services employees write?

    • Safety Services employees (who are also specially licensed Boston Police Officers) are authorized to write two types of incident reports: (1) a Boston Police Report; and (2) a BPS Safety Services report.

    What kinds of student activity can be reported in an incident report?

    • “Student Activity” is activity involving one or more BPS students that occurs on BPS property, on BPS buses, at or near school bus stops, while BPS students are on their way to and from school, and while BPS students are participating in any school-sponsored activities, whether on or off school grounds.
    • Safety Services employees may document only the following Student Activity by preparing and filing a Boston Police Report:

    (a) All felony crimes;

    (b) Non-felony crimes of assault and battery, hazing, those involving stalking behavior or sexual behavior, and threats that could have caused the person to whom they were conveyed to fear that the speaker had both the intention and ability to carry them out;

    (c) Possession of and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances as defined in G.L. c. 94C (other than possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana, pursuant to G.L. c. 94C, §§ 32L, and 32M);

    (d) Possession of dangerous or electrical weapons;

    (e) Other non-felony crimes where a victim or victim’s parent or guardian requests a report.

    • Very limited types of activity can be documented in a BPS Safety Services report. Activity related to students is limited to medical emergencies and missing students. Non-student activity may also be documented in a BPS Safety Services report, like graffiti, non-student trespass on school property, or items found on school property.
    • If Student Activity is not listed above, it may not be documented in an incident report. It must be documented in the BPS Student Information System (“SIS”) by the school administrator if it is determined to be a violation of the BPS Code of Conduct.

    What kinds of information about students cannot be contained in either a Boston Police Report or a BPS Safety Services report?

    Certain information about students cannot be included in an incident report, including

    (a) Immigration status

    (b) Citizenship

    (c) Neighborhood of residence

    (d) Religion

    (e) National origin

    (f) Ethnicity

    (g) Students’ native or spoken language

    (h) Suspected or alleged gang involvement, affiliation, association, or membership

    (i) Participation in school activities, extracurricular activities outside of school, sports teams, or school clubs or organizations

    (j) Degrees, honors, or awards

    (k) Post-high school plans

    Directory-level information about students (name, age, grade, and dates of enrollment in BPS) and information based on personal knowledge or observation may be included in an incident report.

    What happens before and after an incident report is written?

    Prior to preparing a Boston Police Report, a Safety Services employee must inform the school administrator. Within 24 hours of receiving notification of a Boston Police Report or a BPS Safety Services report involving a student, the School Administrator will communicate with affected students and their families to discuss the incident resulting in the report. Families shall be notified that they may request a copy of the BPS Safety Services report from the school in the student’s or family’s native language or a copy of the Boston Police Report from BPD headquarters. A list of local legal resources available to families is available here.

    Can BPS Safety Services share reports with others?

    When a Safety Services employee prepares and files a Boston Police Report, that report is the property of BPD. Safety Services employees other than the chief and deputy chief may not share other reports outside of BPS. Only the chief or deputy chief of Safety Services may share those reports with others.

    Can BPS Safety Services share information about students that is not contained in an incident report?

    Under the policy, Safety Services employees may only share information obtained from an education record (like information from SIS) pursuant to certain exceptions to FERPA or state law (such as providing Directory Information, responding to a subpoena or court order, or in the event of a health or safety emergency). Because student record laws only apply to records, Safety Services employees may share information about students that is based on their personal knowledge or observation, but only when such information is not originally obtained from an education record and is directly related to the specific situation for which the information is requested.