Title 33: Human Services
Chapter 51: GENERAL PROVISIONS
33 V.S.A. § 5118. Limited exception to confidentiality of records of juveniles maintained by the family division of the superior court
§ 5118. Limited exception to confidentiality of records of juveniles maintained by the family division of the superior court
(a) For the purposes of this section:
(1) "Delinquent act requiring notice" means conduct resulting in a delinquency adjudication related to a listed crime as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301(7).
(2) "Independent school" means an approved or recognized independent school under 16 V.S.A. § 166.
(b) While records of juveniles maintained by the family division of the superior court should be kept confidential, it is the policy of the general assembly to establish a limited exception for the overriding public purposes of rehabilitating juveniles and protecting students and staff within Vermont's public and independent schools.
(c) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a court finding that a child has committed a delinquent act requiring notice shall, within seven days of such finding, provide written notice to the superintendent of schools for the public school in which the child is enrolled or, in the event the child is enrolled in an independent school, the school's headmaster.
(d) The written notice shall contain only a description of the delinquent act found by the court to have been committed by the child and shall be marked: "UNLAWFUL DISSEMINATION OF THIS INFORMATION IS A CRIME PUNISHABLE BY A FINE UP TO $2,000.00." The envelope in which the notice is sent by the court shall be marked: "CONFIDENTIAL: TO BE OPENED BY THE SUPERINTENDENT OR HEADMASTER ONLY."
(e) The superintendent or headmaster, upon receipt of the notice, shall inform only those persons within the child's school with a legitimate need to know of the delinquent act, and only after first evaluating rehabilitation and protection measures that do not involve informing staff or students. Persons with a legitimate need to know are strictly limited to only those for whom the information is necessary for the rehabilitation program of the child or for the protection of staff or students. "Need to know" shall be narrowly and strictly interpreted. Persons receiving information from the superintendent or headmaster shall not, under any circumstances, discuss such information with any other person except the child, the child's parent, guardian, or custodian, others who have been similarly informed by the superintendent or headmaster, law enforcement personnel, or the juvenile's probation officer.
(f) The superintendent and headmaster annually shall provide training to school staff about the need for confidentiality of such information and the penalties for violation of this section.
(g) The written notice shall be maintained by the superintendent or headmaster in a file separate from the child's education record. If the child transfers to another public or independent school, the superintendent or headmaster shall forward the written notice in the original marked envelope to the superintendent or headmaster for the school to which the child transferred. If the child either graduates or turns 18 years of age, the superintendent or headmaster then possessing the written notice shall destroy such notice.
(h) If legal custody of the child is transferred to the commissioner, or if the commissioner is supervising the child's probation, upon the request by a superintendent or headmaster, the commissioner shall provide to the superintendent or headmaster information concerning the child which the commissioner determines is necessary for the child's rehabilitation or for the protection of the staff or students in the school in which the child is enrolled.
(i) A person who intentionally violates the confidentiality provisions of this section shall be fined not more than $2,000.00.
(j) Except as provided in subsection (i) of this section, no liability shall attach to any person who transmits, or fails to transmit, the written notice required under this section. (Added 2007, No. 185 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 2009; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.)