CHILD ABUSE REPORTING PROCEDURES
Duty to Report
Certificated employees and classified employees trained in child abuse identification and reporting shall report known or suspected child abuse to a child protective agency by telephone immediately or as soon as practically possible and in writing within thirty-six (36) hours. The reporting duties are individual and cannot be delegated to another individual except under circumstances set forth in Penal Code 11166.
Child abuse includes the following:
(a) a physical injury inflicted by other than accidental means on a child by another person;
(b) sexual abuse of a child;
(c) willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment of a child, or willfully inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or failure to safeguard a child from these injuries when the child is under a person’s care or custody;
(d) unlawful corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition;
(e) neglect of a child or abuse in out-of-home care.
Mandated reporters are those people defined by law as “child care custodians,” “health practitioners,” “child visitation monitors” and “employees of a child protective agency.” Mandated reporters include virtually all school employees. The following school personnel are required to report:
Teachers, administrators, supervisors of child welfare and attendance, certificated student personnel employees, employees of a child care institutions, headstart teachers, school psychologists, licensed nurses, counselors, presenters of child abuse prevention programs and those instructional aides or other classified employees trained in child abuse reporting.
Child protective agencies are those law enforcement and child protective services responsible for investigating child abuse reports, including the local police or sheriff department, county welfare or juvenile probation department and child protective services.
Reasonable suspicion means that it is objectively reasonable for a person to entertain such a suspicion, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person in a like position, drawing when appropriate on his/her training and experience, to suspect child abuse. (Penal Code 11166)
To report known or suspected child abuse, any employee (as defined above) shall report by telephone to the local child protective agency:
Kern County Human Services Department
Social Services Division, Child Protective Services
The telephone report must be made immediately, or as soon as practically possible, upon suspicion. This report will include:
(a) the name of the person making the report;
(b) the name of the child;
(c) the present location of the child;
(d) the nature and extent of any injury;
(e) any other information requested by the child protective agency, including the information that led the mandated reporter to suspect child abuse.
When the verbal report is made, the mandated reporter shall note the name of the official contacted, the date and time contacted, and any instructions or advice received.
Within thirty-six (36) hours of making the telephone report, the mandated reporter shall complete and mail to the local child protective agency a written report which includes a completed Department of Justice form (DOJ 85 8572). Mandated reporters may obtain copies of the above form either from the District or the local child protective agency. Instructions are included on the form, and reporters may ask the site administrator for help in completing and mailing it; however, the mandated reporter is personally responsible for ensuring that the written report is correctly filed.
Employees reporting child abuse to a child protective agency are encouraged, but not required, to notify the site administrator or designee as soon as possible after the initial verbal report by telephone. When so notified, the site administrator shall inform the Superintendent or designee.
Administrators so notified shall provide the mandated reporter with any assistance necessary to ensure that reporting procedures are carried out in accordance with law and District regulations. At the mandated reporter’s request, the principal may assist in completing and filing these forms.
If the mandated reporter does not disclose his/her identity to a District administrator, he/she shall at least provide or mail a copy of the written report to the District without his/her signature or name.
Legal Responsibility and Liability
Mandated reporters have absolute immunity. School employees required to report are not civilly or criminally liable for filing a required or authorized report of known or suspected child abuse.
If a mandated reporter fails to report an instance of child abuse that he/she knows to exist or reasonably should know to exist, he/she is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by confinement in jail for up to six (6) months, a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. The mandated reporter may also be held civilly liable for damages resulting from any injury to the child after a failure to report.
When two (2) or more persons who are required to report have joint knowledge of a suspected instance of child abuse, and when they so agree, the telephone report may be made by either of them and a single report made and signed by that person. However, if any person knows or should know that the designated person failed to make the report, that person then has a duty to do so.
The duty to report child abuse is an individual duty and no supervisor or administrator may impede or inhibit such reporting duties. Furthermore, no person making such a report shall be subject to any sanction.
Upon request, a child protective agency representative may interview a suspected victim of child abuse during school hours, on school premises, concerning a report of suspected child abuse that occurred within the child’s home. The child shall be given the choice of being interviewed in private or in the presence of any adult school employee or volunteer aide selected by the child. (Penal Code 11174.3)
A staff member or volunteer aide selected by a child may decline to be present at the interview. If the selected person accepts, the principal or designee shall inform him/her, before the interview takes place, of the following legal requirements:
the purpose of the selected person’s presence at the interview is to lend support to the child and enable him/her to be as comfortable as possible;
the selected person shall not participate in the interview;
the selected person shall not discuss the facts or circumstances of the case with the child;
the selected person is subject to the confidentiality requirements of the Child Abuse and Reporting Act, a violation of which is punishable as specified in Penal Code 11167.5.
If a staff member agrees to be present. the interview shall be held at a time during school hours when it does not involve an expense to the school. (Penal Code 11174.3)
Release of Child to Peace Officer or Child Protective Services Agent
When a child is released to a peace officer or child protective services agent and taken into custody as a victim of suspected child abuse, the Superintendent or designee and/or principal shall not notify the parent/guardian as required in other instances of removal of a child from school, but rather shall provide the peace officer or agent with the address and telephone number of the child’s parent/guardian. It is the responsibility of the peace officer or agent to notify the parent/guardian of the situation. (Education Code 48906)
Peace officers and child protective services agents will be asked to sign an appropriate release or acceptance of responsibility form.
When School Employees are Accused of Child Abuse
Regardless of who child abusers may be, the major responsibilities of mandated reporters are to: (1) identify incidents of suspected child abuse, and (2) comply with laws requiring the reporting of suspected abuse to the proper authorities. Determining whether or not the suspected abuse actually occurred is not the responsibility of the school employee. Such determination and follow-up investigation will be made by a child protective agency.
Pending the outcome of an investigation by a child protective agency and before formal charges are filed, the employee may be subject to reassignment or a paid leave of absence.
Upon filing formal charges or upon conviction, the District may take disciplinary action in accordance with law, District policies, regulations and/or collective bargaining agreements. The Superintendent or designee shall seek legal counsel in connection with either the suspension or dismissal of the employee.