Hart district reviewing policy regarding notification of investigations 

The sign in front of the William S. Hart Union High School District administrative office. Katherine Quezada/The Signal
The sign in front of the William S. Hart Union High School District administrative office. Katherine Quezada/The Signal
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An incident involving a student being questioned by William S. Hart Union High School District officials and the district’s legal counsel without notifying the parents has led the district to review its policy on such matters. 

John Yurek, the parent of a Saugus High School student, said his son was questioned last week regarding an incident that took place in the fall that his son may have been a witness to. Yurek said this questioning occurred without his knowledge, something he would like to see change. 

“We as parents have the right to know what’s going on,” Yurek said in a phone interview. 

The district later apologized for not notifying Yurek prior to the questioning, according to Kathy Hunter, assistant superintendent of student services, safety and wellness for the district. 

“I met with Mr. Yurek this morning and he and I were able to resolve his concerns,” Hunter wrote in an email. 

She added that the district will be reviewing “current policies and guidance regarding outside agencies interviewing students on a campus and will be drafting language to cover more entities and provide more specifics.” 

Under current state law, parents are not required to be notified before students are questioned regarding inappropriate conduct, according to Jacqueline Litra, an attorney with F3 Law, the district’s legal counsel on the matter. Litra said she is the attorney who advised the district on how the law applies in this matter.

“In this instance, (the student) was interviewed as a potential witness in an investigation,” Litra wrote in an email to Yurek. “Due to the seriousness of the matter, an outside investigator interviewed students on behalf of the district. The allegations being investigated are not against (the student). The district and the investigator complied with the law in this matter.” 

Hunter added that there are certain agencies, such as the Department of Child and Family Services, that are required to conduct investigations, including interviewing any witnesses to an incident, without notifying parents should there be a report of child abuse. 

Notification policies were a big talking point in the Hart district during the fall semester as the governing board was looking at possibly adding language that would require further parent notification regarding student activity at school. A three-hour public comment session was held during one board meeting that saw parents, students and other community members lay out reasons for and against such potential policies. 

The governing board ultimately moved to have board members Joe Messina and Cherise Moore review the existing policies to see if anything needs to be added, changed or removed. 

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