Pennsylvania Court Ruling Says Colleges Have Right to Incoming Students’ Juvenile Delinquency Records

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Last week, an attorney representing an incoming freshman with intentions of attending Temple University asked Pennsylvania’s Superior Court to reconsider the state’s “Juvenile Act,” following an appeals court ruling that allowed the university to be informed of his client’s previous delinquency history.

In a 2-1 decision, judges upheld a previous Lehigh County juvenile court ruling which said that the state’s “Juvenile Act” could be extended to universities and colleges. Following the ruling, attorney Gavin Holihan filed a motion asking the court to reargue the case, this time in front of a larger panel of judges.

Pennsylvania’s “Juvenile Act” requires schools to be notified if an enrolled student is found delinquent of a crime, with additional information required if the crime constitutes a felony.

At 17, Holihan’s client had been found delinquent of disseminating child pornography on a file-sharing network. According to an Associated Press report, Holihan believed that the state’s “Juvenile Act” – which, historically, has been interpreted as consisting of elementary and secondary schools – had never been construed to pertain to universities and colleges.

The judges, however, said that the Legislature’s interpretation of the “Juvenile Act” wasn’t relegated to protecting just youth in primary and secondary schools. In the majority opinion, Judge Sallie Mundy argued that a juvenile adjudicated delinquent does not stop proving a potential threat upon entering adulthood, stating that she found it illogical to assume that an individual that “presents a danger to elementary, middle and high school students” ceases “to present a danger once the delinquent child enrolls in college.”

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