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AGO 1958 No. 155 - February 10, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- SCHOOL DIRECTORS ‑- AUTHORITY TO EMPLOY CROSSING GUARDS WITH POWER TO ENFORCE TRAFFIC REGULATIONS.

HIGHWAYS ‑- TRAFFIC REGULATIONS ‑- AUTHORITY OF DIRECTORS OF SCHOOL DISTRICT TO EMPLOY CROSSING GUARDS.

A board of directors of a public school district cannot legally employ school crossing guards to be stationed at intersections where children must cross streets or highways in order to go to or from school, and to vest such guards with the authority to enforce the traffic laws.

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                                                                February 10, 1958

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney
King County
County-City Building
Seattle 4, Washington

Attention: Mr. V. D. Bradeson, Deputy                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 155

Dear Sir:

            By letter, previously acknowledged, you requested the opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            May the board of directors of a public school district legally employ school crossing guards to be stationed at intersections where children must cross streets or highways in order to go to or from school, vesting such guards with the authority to enforce the traffic laws?

            Your question is answered in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            As a quasi-municipal corporation, a school district has only those powers  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] granted it by the legislature.  State ex rel. Bellingham School District v. Clausen, 109 Wash. 37.  Such powers may be expressly granted or may exist by right of necessary implication from express powers.  Juntila v. Everett School District, 178 Wash. 637.  Thus, it must be determined whether the legislature has, by any express or implied grant of power, given a school district authority to enforce the traffic laws.

            We find no statute by which the legislature has expressly delegated to the board of trustees of any school district authority to employ crossing guards and vest such guards with authority to enforce the traffic laws.

            The only statutory authority for school crossing guards is found in RCW 46.48.160.  The statute reads in pertinent part as follows:

            "The superintendent of public instruction, through the superintendent of schools of any city or town or school district, . . . may cause to be appointed from the student body . . . students who shall be known as members of the 'school patrol' . . ."

            The statute also provides that the school patrol shall have authority to regulate traffic at school crossings and designates as unlawful a violation of a student patrolman's traffic directions.

            This statute is, of course, permissive in nature.  But if the school district finds it desirable to protect school children by the regulation of traffic at school crossings, the method of so doing is prescribed.  The rule that the expression of one thing in a statute excludes others not expressed is well established in this state.  State ex rel. Port of Seattle v. Department of Public Service, 1 Wn. (2d) 102.  No distinction has yet been drawn between those statutes which are mandatory and those that are permissive or directory.  In our opinion, RCW 46.48.160 cannot be construed as an implied grant of power to a school district to hire crossing guards and vest such guards with authority to enforce the traffic laws.

            It is, therefore, our conclusion that school districts are not authorized at the present time to employ crossing guards and vest such guards with authority to enforce the traffic laws.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

JAMES R. CUNINGHAM
Assistant Attorney General

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