Dozens of orgs to ISBE and IPA: Stop offering controversial law enforcement interrogation course to teachers and administrators

Contact:         Timna Axel, Communications Associate
                        Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
                        Phone: 312-888-4194 | Email: taxel@clccrul.org

 
For immediate release
December 20, 2016
 
CHICAGO – The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee is proud to join more than 30 organizations today in sending a letter to the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) demanding that they revoke approval for Administrator Academy #1007, a professional development course for teachers and administrators based on the discredited and unreliable Reid Technique of Interrogation.

The Reid Technique training is based on techniques used by law enforcement on adults held in police custody, a problematic method inappropriate for use on school-age children and particularly juveniles with mental health diagnoses or other impairments. Yet in the last six years, more than 1400 administrators and educators have received professional development credit toward their licenses for attending this course.

“As policy and legal advocates for youth in education, we were shocked to learn that the IPA will still be offering the Reid Technique training course in January,” said Chicago Lawyers’ Committee staff attorney Jessica Schneider.

“Our schools need educators, not criminal interrogators. This course completely undermines the progress Illinois has made in reforming school discipline laws so that we aren’t needlessly pushing kids out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system.”

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee is an advocate of Senate Bill 100, which amended the Illinois School Code and took effect in September 2016. SB100 put rules in place to limit expulsions and other exclusionary punishments in favor of restorative and supportive interventions for students.

The Reid Technique training, witnessed by representatives of the letter-signing organizations, incorporates several interrogation tactics known to increase the danger of coercing false confessions, and sets an arbitrary age limit of 10 years old as the appropriate cut-off age. Yet recent research has shown that more than one-third of proven false confessions were obtained from suspects under the age of 18.

As professionals and organizations that work with, represent, and support students, the signatories to today’s letter recognize that the Reid Technique has no place in our children’s schools. The Illinois Principals Association should immediately cease offering the course, and school districts should stop sending their staff to these seminars.