Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1958 No. 171 - March 10, 1958
AGO Opinion Header Image
John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- SCHOOL DIRECTORS ‑- AUTHORITY TO EMPLOY PERSONNEL TO SUPERVISE AND DIRECT STUDENTS AT INTERSECTIONS.

The board of directors of a school district may legally employ persons to supervise and direct children who must necessarily cross streets and intersections going to and returning from school.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                  March 10, 1958

Honorable John G. McCutcheon
Prosecuting Attorney
Pierce County
Tacoma, Washington                                                                                       Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 171

Dear Sir:

            This letter is written in answer to your request for an opinion from this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            May the board of directors of a school district legally employ persons to supervise and direct children who must necessarily cross streets and intersections in going to and returning from school?

            We answer your question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            In a recent opinion we held that a school district could not employ crossing guards and vest such guards with authority to enforce the traffic laws.  See AGO 57-58 No. 155 [[to Ralph Purvis, State Representative on November 2, 1955]].  The basis of that opinion is that the only crossing guards authorized by statute to direct traffic are members of the student patrol appointed in the manner provided in RCW 46.48.160, and that this express authority negates any implied authority to vest such powers in others.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            RCW 46.48.160 reads in pertinent part as follows:

            "The members of such school patrol shall wear a badge or other appropriate insignia marked 'school patrol' when in performance of their duties, and they may display 'stop' or other proper traffic directional signs or signals at school crossings or other points where school children are crossing or about to cross a public highway, but members of the school patrol shall be subordinate to and obey the orders of any peace officer present and having jurisdiction.

            ". . .

            "It shall be unlawful for the operator of any vehicle to fail to stop his vehicle when directed to do so by a school patrol sign or signal displayed by a member of the school patrol engaged in the performance of his duty and wearing or displaying appropriate insignia, and it shall further be unlawful for the operator of a vehicle to disregard any other reasonable directions of a member of the school patrol when acting in performance of his duties as such."

            The fact that the legislature has adopted RCW 46.48.160 clearly indicates that the function of the school district in protecting a child need not begin only with the appearance of the pupil on the school premises and need not end when the pupil leaves the school premises at the end of the school day.

            It is our opinion, therefore, that school districts have implied authority to supervise and direct students who must necessarily cross streets and intersections in going to and returning from school.  Accordingly, a school district has implied authority to employ such personnel as is necessary to carry out this function.

            We trust this information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

ELVIN J. VANDEBERG
Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo