Child Abuse and Maltreatment
The District takes seriously the obligations of its officers and employees to report cases of child abuse or maltreatment. To this end, regulations will be developed, maintained, and disseminated by administration regarding the:
- a) Mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse or maltreatment;
- b) Reporting procedures and obligations of persons required to report;
- c) Provisions for taking a child into protective custody;
- d) Mandatory reporting of deaths;
- e) Immunity from liability and penalties for failure to report;
- f) Obligations for provision of services and procedures necessary to safeguard the life of a child; and
- g) Provision of information in recognizing signs of unlawful methamphetamine laboratories for all current and new school officials (i.e., “mandated reporters”) who, as part of their usual responsibilities, visit children’s homes.
Additionally, an ongoing training program for all current and new school officials will be established and implemented to enable such staff to carry out their reporting responsibilities.
Persons Required to Report
Persons required to report cases of child abuse or maltreatment to the State Central Register (SCR) in accordance with Social Services Law Section 413(1) include, but are not limited to, school teachers, school guidance counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, school nurses, school administrators or other school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate, and full- or part-time compensated school employees required to hold a temporary coaching license or professional coaching certificate.
All mandated reporters must make the report themselves and then immediately notify the building principal or designee. The building principal or designee will be responsible for all subsequent administration necessitated by the report. Any report must include the name, title, and contact information for every staff member who is believed to have direct knowledge of the allegations in the report.
Prohibition of Retaliatory Personnel Action
The District will not take any retaliatory personnel action against an employee because the employee believes that he or she has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is an abused or maltreated child and that employee makes a report to SCR. Further, no school or school official will impose any conditions, including prior approval or prior notification, upon any staff member specifically designated a mandated reporter.
“Retaliatory personnel action” means the discharge, suspension, or demotion of an employee, or other adverse employment action taken against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment.
The “Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Maltreatment” Form LDSS-2221A may be accessed at the website of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
Child Abuse in an Educational Setting
The District is committed to the protection of students in educational settings from abuse and maltreatment by employees or volunteers.
“Child abuse” means 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 Penal Law Articles 130 or 263; or
- d) The commission or attempted commission against a child of the crime of disseminating indecent materials to minors pursuant to Penal Law Article 235.
“Educational setting” means the building(s) and grounds of the District; the vehicles provided by the District for the transportation of students to and from school buildings, field trips, co-curricular and extracurricular activities both on and off 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.
In any case where an oral or written allegation is made to a teacher, school registered professional nurse, school guidance counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, school administrator, 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 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 will upon receipt of the allegation:
- a) Promptly complete a written report of the allegation including the full name of the child alleged to be abused; the name of the child’s parent; the identity of the person making the allegation and their relationship to the alleged child victim; the name of the employee or volunteer against whom the allegation was made; and a listing of the specific allegations of child abuse in an educational setting. This written report will be completed on a form as prescribed by the Commissioner of Education.
- b) 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.
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 these allegations will be promptly forwarded to the Superintendent of the school district of the child’s attendance and the school district where the abuse allegedly occurred.
Any 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 will have immunity from civil liability which might otherwise result by reason of such actions.
Upon receipt of a written report alleging child abuse in an educational setting, the school administrator or Superintendent must then determine whether there is “reasonable suspicion” to believe that an act of child abuse has occurred. Where there has been a determination as to the existence of reasonable suspicion, the school administrator or Superintendent must follow the notification or reporting procedures mandated in law and further described in administrative regulations including parental notification. When the school administrator receives a written report, he or she must promptly provide a copy of the report to the Superintendent.
Where the school administrator or Superintendent has forwarded a written report of child abuse in an educational setting to law enforcement authorities, the Superintendent will also refer the report to the Commissioner of Education where the employee or volunteer alleged to have committed an act of child abuse holds a certification or license issued by the State Education Department.
Any school administrator or Superintendent who reasonably and in good faith makes a report of allegations of child abuse in an educational setting, or reasonably and in good faith transmits such a report to a person or agency as required by law, will have immunity from civil liability which might otherwise result by reason of such actions.
Reports and other written material submitted in accordance with law with regard to allegations of child abuse in an educational setting, and photographs taken concerning those reports that are in the possession of any person legally authorized to receive that information, will be confidential and will not be re-disclosed 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 will exercise reasonable care in preventing unauthorized disclosure.
Additionally, teachers and all other school officials will be provided an annual written explanation concerning the reporting of child abuse in an educational setting, including the immunity provisions as enumerated in law. Further, the Commissioner of Education will furnish the District with required information, including rules and regulations for training necessary to implement District and staff responsibilities under the law.
Prohibition of “Silent” (Unreported) Resignations
The Superintendent and other school administrators are prohibited 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 or her position.
Superintendents (or a designated administrator) who reasonably and in good faith report to law enforcement officials information regarding allegations of child abuse or a resignation as required by law will have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, which might otherwise result by reason of such actions.