7532 - Child Abuse in an Educational Setting
|Policy: Child Abuse in an Educational Setting||Policy Number: 7532|
|Date of Original Policy: 06/18/2014||Date Revision Adopted: 07/08/2020|
|Reviewed by Policy Committee: 06/17/2020||Date of Next Review: 01/25/2023|
|Replacement of Policy Number: 7530 & 7531|
The Jordan Elbridge School District is committed to the protection of students in educational settings from abuse and maltreatment by employees or volunteers as enumerated in law.
"Child abuse" shall mean any of the following acts committed in an educational setting by an employee or volunteer against a child:
a) Intentionally or recklessly inflicting physical injury, serious physical injury or death; or
b) Intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct which creates a substantial risk of such physical injury, serious physical injury or death; or
c) Any child sexual abuse, defined as conduct prohibited by Articles 130 or 263 of the Penal Law; or
d) The commission or attempted commission against a child of the crime of disseminating indecent materials to minors pursuant to Article 235 of the Penal Law.
“Child” shall mean a person under the age of twenty one (21) years enrolled in a school district in this state.
“Employee” is defined as any person receiving compensation from a school district or employee of a contracted service provider, or a worker placed within the school district under a public assistance employment program pursuant to Title 9-B of Article 5 of the Social Services Law (consistent with the provisions of such Title, for the provision of services to the district, its students or employees, directly or through contract, whereby such services performed by such person involve direct student contact).
“Volunteer” shall mean any person, other than an employee, who provides services to a school district, which involve direct student contact
"Educational setting" shall mean the building(s) and grounds of the School District; the vehicles provided by the School District for the transportation of students to and from school buildings, field trips, co-curricular and extracurricular activities both on and off School District grounds; all co-curricular and extracurricular activity sites; and any other location where direct contact between an employee or volunteer and a child has allegedly occurred.
“Administrator or School Administrator” is a principal of a public school, charter school or board of cooperative educational services, or other chief school officer.
"Law Enforcement Authorities" shall mean a municipal police department, sheriff's department, and the division of state police or any officer thereof. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, law enforcement authorities shall not include any child protective service or any society for the prevention of cruelty to children as such terms are defined in section four hundred twenty-three of the social services law.
“Parent” shall include either or both of a child’s parents or other person(s) legally responsible for the child.
STEPS IN THE REPORTING PROCESS
In any case where an oral or written allegation is made to a teacher, school nurse, school guidance counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, school administrator, School Board member, or other school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate, that a child (defined in the law as a person under the age of twenty-one (21) years) enrolled in a school district in this state has been subjected to child abuse by an employee or volunteer in an educational setting, that person shall, upon receipt of such allegation:
Except where the school administrator is the person receiving such an oral or written allegation, the employee completing the written report must promptly personally deliver a copy of that written report to the school administrator of the school in which the child abuse allegedly occurred.
The school administrator shall promptly provide a copy of the written report to the Superintendent.
Step 4 (if applicable)
In any case where it is alleged the child was abused by an employee or volunteer of a school other than a school within the school district of the child's attendance, the report of such allegations shall be promptly forwarded to the Superintendent of Schools of the school district of the child's attendance and to the Superintendent of the school district where the abuse allegedly occurred.
Upon receipt of a written report alleging child abuse in an educational setting, either the school administrator or Superintendent must then determine whether there is "reasonable suspicion" to believe that such an act of child abuse in an educational setting has occurred. In some instances, “reasonable suspicion” may be patently obvious under the facts and circumstances in which the report is made. In all other instances, the school administrator or Superintendent shall cause a thorough investigation into the report of alleged abuse, which shall occur promptly within a matter of hours and/or days immediately following receipt of the report.
If the school administrator or Superintendent does not find reasonable suspicion to believe that child abuse in an educational setting has occurred, then there are no further reporting obligations. However, allegations of child abuse in an educational setting shall not be casually dismissed. Consultation with the district’s legal counsel is recommended whenever such an allegation is made.
If the school administrator or Superintendent finds reasonable suspicion to believe that child abuse in an education setting has occurred, then the school administrator or Superintendent must follow the notification/reporting procedures mandated by law as set forth below, which vary depending on who made the initial allegation, as follows:
A. Where the subject child has made the allegation- the school administrator or Superintendent shall:
1) Promptly notify the child’s parent that an allegation of child abuse has been made regarding their child;
2) Promptly provide the parent with a written statement setting forth the parent’s rights, responsibilities, and the applicable legal procedures; and
3) Promptly forward the report to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
B. Where the parent of the subject child makes the allegation- the school administrator or Superintendent shall:
2) Promptly forward the report to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
C. Where a person other than the subject child or the child’s parent has made the allegation – the school administrator or Superintendent shall:
2) Promptly provide the parent with a written statement setting forth the parent’s rights, responsibilities, and the applicable legal procedures;
3) Obtain from the person making the report the source and basis for the allegation; and
4) Promptly forward the report to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
If the school administrator who receives the written report determines that there is reasonable suspicion to believe that child abuse in an education setting has occurred, the school administrator shall not delay reporting to law enforcement due to the inability to contact the Superintendent.
Whenever the school administrator or Superintendent has forwarded a written report of child abuse in an educational setting to law enforcement authorities, the Superintendent shall also refer such report to the Commissioner of Education if the employee or volunteer alleged to have committed such an act of child abuse holds a certification or license issued by the State Education Department.
Confidentiality of Records
1) Reports and other written material submitted pursuant to law with regard to allegations of child abuse in an educational setting, and photographs taken concerning such reports that are in the possession of any person legally authorized to receive such information, shall be confidential and shall not be redisclosed except to law enforcement authorities involved in an investigation of child abuse in an educational setting or as expressly authorized by law or pursuant to a court-ordered subpoena. School administrators and the Superintendent shall exercise reasonable care in preventing such unauthorized disclosure.
2) A report made in accordance with the law that does not, after investigation, result in a criminal conviction, must be expunged from any record kept by the school district with respect to the subject of such a report after a period of five years from the date of the making of such report, or at such earlier time as the school district determines.
3) The willful disclosure of a written record required to be kept confidential to a person not authorized to receive or review such record is a Class A Misdemeanor
Prohibition of "Silent" Resignations/Suspensions
The law prohibits the Superintendent and other school administrators from withholding from law enforcement authorities, the Superintendent or the Commissioner of Education, where appropriate, information concerning allegations of child abuse in an educational setting against an employee or volunteer, in exchange for that individual's resignation or voluntary suspension from his/her position. A violation of the prohibition against silent resignations and/or suspensions constitutes a Class E Felony, and also is punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00).
Additional Penalties for Failure to Comply
1. The willful failure of any employee to prepare and submit a written report of an allegation of child abuse shall be a Class A Misdemeanor.
2. The willful failure of a school administrator or superintendent to submit a written report of child abuse to an appropriate law enforcement authority shall be a Class A Misdemeanor, and is punishable by civil penalty not to exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) upon an administrative determinate by the Commissioner.
Immunity from Civil Liability/Criminal Prosecution
Any school administrator or Superintendent who reasonably and in good faith makes a report of allegations of child abuse in an educational setting, or who reasonably and in good faith transmits such a report to a person or agency as required by law, shall have immunity from civil liability which might otherwise result by reason of such actions.
Any other employee or volunteer who reasonably and in good faith makes a report of allegations of child abuse in an educational setting in accordance with the reporting requirements of the law shall have immunity from civil liability which might otherwise result by reason of such actions.
Any Superintendent who reasonably and in good faith report to law enforcement officials information regarding allegations of child abuse or a resignation as required pursuant to the law shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, which might otherwise result by reason of such actions.
The district shall establish and implement on an ongoing basis a training program regarding the responsibilities of school officials and school personnel under the “Child Abuse in an Educational Setting” article of the Education Law, as set forth in this policy. This training shall be provided to all board members, and to all current and new teachers, school nurses, school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, school administrators, and other personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative certificate or license. In addition, the district shall annually provide to each teacher and all other school officials a written explanation concerning the reporting of child abuse in an educational setting, including the immunity provisions as enumerated in law.
Ref: Education Law §§1125-1133
Penal Law §§130, 235, 263
8 NYCRR §100.2 (hh) (Reporting of Child Abuse in an Educational Setting)
Appeal of S.S., 42 EDR 273 (2003)