Burn Baby Burn: School Children Denied Sunscreen Without Parental Consent While School Officials Oppose Parental Notice Of Police Interrogations Of Children

We have followed ludicrous examples of the bureaucratic rules in schools with regard to the denial of aspirin or inhalers to students. Now it appears that school officials across the country are allowing students to develop serious sun burns because they consider sun block to be a drug requiring parental permission. It sounds like something straight out of The Onion but it is true. In the meantime, school officials in the Washington area have successfully blocked a measure to require parental notification of police interrogations of their children, even in cases of serious alleged misconduct.

In New York and Washington, children have suffered extreme sunburns — including burns requiring hospital care — because school officials refused to allow the use of sun block without signed parental consent.

In some districts, school policy only allows for sunscreen to be applied with a signed doctor’s note because it is viewed as a medication. The reason is that some children could have an allergic reaction. California is the only state that allows sunscreen without permission from a doctor.

Yet, when it comes to protecting the rights of children, principals joined together in Fairfax County to block a measure calling for parental notice of police interrogations. Forty-seven Fairfax middle and high school principals testified that the proposals requiring parental notice or consent shows “a lack of trust and confidence.” They further objected to the harm it would cause to their administrative and security concerns. Police often interrogate children at schools where they are pulled from their classes and isolated in a room with school officials and police officers. It is a highly coercive environment where children are not given the most basic protections afforded to adults.

The decision by Fairfax (where my children go to public school) comes after well-documented abuses involving the interrogation of children at schools. It also came after the Supreme Court rebuked police in J.D.B. v. North Carolina (Case No. 09-11121) this month — holding 5-4 that a child’s age can be a relevant factor when determining whether a juvenile suspect merits a Miranda warning about his rights against self-incrimination. That case involved a North Carolina student who was 13 years old in 2005 when he was interrogated at school concerning a series of thefts in the neighborhood. School officials were willing participants in the interrogation.

So, schools officials require signed parental consent for an aspirin or sun block but refuse to even given parental notice of police interrogations. A rather curious set of priorities if the best interests of the child is the standard.

Source: NBC and WGRZ

34 thoughts on “Burn Baby Burn: School Children Denied Sunscreen Without Parental Consent While School Officials Oppose Parental Notice Of Police Interrogations Of Children”

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  2. This is one of a million reasons I homeschool my 10 yr old. School is not what is used to be.

  3. “California is the only state that allows sunscreen without permission from a doctor.”

    I seriously doubt that this is true. Perhaps the statement is just misworded and California is the only state that *specifically* allows sunscreen.

  4. anon, no offense to the Prof and other lawyers here but I have yet to meet a lawyer whose concern was the right thing and to do right by their client. The issue was can you pay me, pro bono is not interested in civil, at least in my instance where I was provably sold a house touted by inspector as lemon when turned out it was dangerous lemonade. (and though I fall within legal and guidelines they could not care less either.)
    It is sad because I like to believe that they at least started law school hoping to do good.

  5. Raff,

    Some sunscreens do contain ingredients that cause adverse reactions for some. Think the culprit is called PABA. Even so … kids should have been allowed sunscreen after the school made a phone call to a parent.

  6. What Bettykath said, yea, my hypothetical kids would be instructed similarly: callmom, callmom, callmom, repeat.

  7. I really thought the case “In re Gault” suggested that minors had the same constitutional rights as adults. Being questioned by police requires informed consent and Miranda warnings to prevent self-incrimination. Children are much more subject to being intimidated than adults are. I would think that since the school is in loco parentis while the kids are there, the school officials BY LAW should provide that children cannot be interrogated at school without having either (a) a guardian ad litem to protect their rights during interrogation or (b) their INFORMED CONSENT which should mean that if they want to ask their parents if they should consent, that’s available to them and they are told it is available to them. Jeez, you even let people on a GAME SHOW ask for help at least ONCE.

    I saw a case in Florida where a guy got the death sentence and was executed because he got the “enhanced sentence” because he was considered to have killed somebody to escape from punishment for another crime, and the other crime was a juvenile offense that he had not actually committed but since he was questioned by police without either consent or parental support, and since the police assured him that all his friends had “ratted him out already,” and since his I.Q. was 72, he admitted the juvenile offense without further ado. That killed him.

  8. Woosty, right you are. school administrators think first about the school and their jobs.

    As a substitute teacher I reported gay bashing to the principal. His response: “Well, is he gay?” How do I know? Whether he is gay nor not, he’s being bullied. Principal did nothing about it.

  9. Forty-seven Fairfax middle and high school principals testified that the proposals requiring parental notice or consent shows “a lack of trust and confidence.”
    because there is “a lack of trust and confidence.”


  10. I have never understood how any of these circumstances can take place, more than once, in a country like ours, where lawyers are considered professionals that work towards the betterment of society.

    How are all of these interrogations of school aged kids taking place when there are lawyers with pro-bono hours to work?

    What supports these zero tolerance policies when lawyers are there to prevent abuse?

    There must be something wrong with my assumption that lawyers give a shit about anything other than themselves.

  11. There will be no visible proof (hopefully) of the interrogation, sun screen may in years to come be found to be carcinogenic or some other thing, and worthy of lawsuits against teacher, school, school board etc.
    I only saw the story once but understand mother of the child that started this brouhaha did not put screen on her child before sending her off to school She bears responsibility for that, and by extension probably not teaching her about using the sunscreen.
    If the kid has parental permission and is sent off to school with a nice full container of sunscreen, (at an age where she/he understands) that they have been taught to apply and reapply when circumstances demand this would not be an issue.

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