New Law Will Notify Arkansas Schools of Students’ Criminal Pasts

New Law Will Notify Arkansas Schools of Students' Criminal Pasts

A new Arkansas law aims to help school districts by notifying them of the criminal records of students transferring into their schools.

A new Arkansas law aims to help school districts maintain school safety by notifying them of the criminal records of students transferring into their schools. Act 647 was approved by legislators in March.

Act 647 will make more information on the background of transfer students available to schools, with the purpose of providing support for the students and to help campuses ensure safety.

"The more you know about any student that comes into your district, the better off you are," said Rick Schaeffer, Communications Director for Springdale Public Schools. "Safety for your kids is the first concern any administration has."

Prosecutors are already required to notify a school district if a juvenile student is convicted of an offense involving a deadly weapon, kidnapping, battery in the first degree, sexual indecency with a child, sexual assault, or unlawful possession of a handgun. Under Act 647, prosecutors will also have to inform the new school district if a student transfers.

"You can provide whatever extra services are necessary,” Schaeffer said. “We do have social workers in our schools, we have counselors in our schools, we can certainly give whatever extra attention is necessary."

Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith said he was surprised the law passed because there’s no automatic process where the state becomes aware that a student is transferring schools or districts.

"The policy goal, I think, is a good goal. The implementation of it will be difficult, if not impossible for some cases," Smith said. "The problem there is that we simply do not have the knowledge of a student transferring schools in the midst of a prosecution any more than we would have the knowledge of an adult changing jobs."

Smith said changes will have to be made to the law for it to function as desired.

"If it's something that school districts need in the future, we probably should amend the law in the future to make sure we achieve the goals set out by the law," Smith said.

Act 647 will go into effect this summer.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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