What is “reasonable belief” anyway?

Dear Dawg: Chapter 37 gives us the authority to put a kid in the DAEP for off campus Title 5 felonies, but only if we have a “reasonable belief” that the kid has done this.  How are we supposed to determine that our belief was “reasonable”?  Until I was eight years old I believed that a jolly fat man, assisted by a team of reindeer, traveled all over the world on a single night delivering presents to children who were nice and not naughty.  In fact, I even believed that he could make his way into my apartment which had no chimney. These beliefs seemed “reasonable” at the time, seeing as how the people who brought me into the world and had taken care of me told me that this was how it happened. Turns out that none of what they told me was true. Does that mean that my belief was not “reasonable”?  ‘PRECIATE YOUR HELP.  AND MERRY CHRISTMAS.

DEAR ‘PRECIATE: Merry Christmas to you too!  The Dawg also bought that whole story, even to the point of leaving a snack of carrots for the reindeer and cheese, crackers and a beer for the jolly fat man.  As children, indoctrinated with a lot of hooey from our parents, I think our beliefs were “reasonable.”  But we were gullible children, and there was a vast national conspiracy designed to make us believe this stuff.  Now we are grown up, and should not base our beliefs on any old story someone tells us.

Chapter 37 gives us some good guidance on this at 37.006(e):

In determining whether there is a reasonable belief that a student had engaged in conduct defined as a felony offense by the Penal Code, the superintendent or the superintendent’s designee may consider all available information, including the information furnished under Article 15.27 Code of Criminal Procedure.

That section of the CCP requires law enforcement to notify the school of any arrest of a student.  Oral notice must be given within 24 hours of arrest, with written follow up within seven days. Both the oral and written notices must “contain sufficient details of the arrest or referral and the acts allegedly committed by the student to enable the superintendent or the superintendent’s designee to determine whether there is a reasonable belief that the student has engaged in conduct defined as a felony offense by the Penal Code.” The statute goes on to say that this information from law enforcement “shall be considered” by the superintendent or designee.

So you are supposed to consider “all available information” but you MUST consider the information provided in the oral and written notice required by CCP 15.27.  After reviewing all of that, lean back in your chair, put your feet on the desk and mull it over: based on the information that I have is it “reasonable” to believe that the student engaged in this conduct?  Hope that helps.


Tomorrow: A big win for special educators at the 5th Circuit.