Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect | Policy 7534

The Board of Education of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District establishes this policy to protect students whose health and welfare may be jeopardized by abuse or neglect and to ensure that school district employees meet their legal reporting obligations under Social Services Laws §§413, 419 and Education Law §3028(b). Further, this policy is to make clear to all employees that their role is not to serve as the investigator, judge or jury in cases of suspected abuse or neglect. Rather the role of school district employees is to report, without delay, instances of suspected abuse or neglect to the Social Services Agency so that the allegations can be brought to the attention of objective, trained and experienced investigators who will conduct the appropriate review of the allegations.

Definitions:

Abused or Neglected Child: a child under the age of 18 whose physical or mental health or welfare is harmed or threatened to be harmed by the acts or omissions of the child’s parent(s) or other individuals legally responsible for the child’s welfare.

Educational Neglect: failure to comply with compulsory education law and attendance requirements which falls within the New York definition of suspected child abuse, neglect or maltreatment.

Mandated Reporters: all school officials who work with children in the course of their professional duties which include but is not limited to teachers, school guidance counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, school physicians, school nurses, school administrators or other school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate.

Designated Agent: means a School District building administrator to whom notice of a mandated report must be provided. The Designated agent will assist the mandated reporter in completing the written report, facilitate coordination of follow up activities and will be the point of contact for any follow up investigation. The Designated agent shall not exercise any control, restraint or modification or other change to the reporting of suspected abuse or neglect by the mandated reporter.

Suspected: means the District employee has reasonable cause to believe abuse or neglect of a child has occurred. This does not mean the employee must be convinced the abuse or neglect occurred, only that it might have occurred. Any doubts the employee may have shall be resolved in favor of reporting the suspicion to the Child Abuse Hotline to allow the investigators to determine the credibility of such allegations.

Reporting Obligations

All school personnel must IMMEDIATELY contact the Department of Children and Family Services when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected, or is in danger of being abused or neglected. The mandated reporter with the most direct knowledge of the suspected abuse should be the one to make the hotline call. The reporter should inform the designated agent as soon as possible of the report, in the event the designated agent is not present when the call is made.

Child Abuse and Neglect reports are made to the Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (“Child Abuse Hotline”), located in Albany at 1-800-342-3710. The reporter must document the date and time the report is made and to whom the report was given and provide such information to the Designated Agent for the building. The Designated Agent thereafter will serve as the coordinator for any further inquires related to the report.

Calls to the State Hotline must be followed up by written reports. It is not the responsibility of the school official making the report to delay reporting to gather evidence or to investigate the suspected abuse. The responsibility for investigating and fact gathering is left to the Department of Social Services/Child Protective services.

The written report following the call to the Child Abuse Hotline must identify the following:

1. The name and address, if known, of the child and the child’s parents or other persons responsible for the child;
2. The age of the child;
3. The race of the child;
4. The sex of the child;
5. The nature and extent of the child’s injuries, abuse or maltreatment together with any
evidence of previous abuse or neglect of the student or the student’s siblings; and
6. Name and contact information for the person making the report;
7. Any actions taken by the reporting source, if applicable;
8. Any other information the reporter believes may be helpful, including names of other staff members who are believed to have direct knowledge of the allegations in the report.

The reporting individual will, with the assistance of the Designated Agent, complete the mandated written report and submit it to the Office of Children and Family Services as required.

The Designated Agent will immediately notify the superintendent or his/her designee of any mandated reports of suspected child abuse, maltreatment or neglect and will keep a copy of the written record of each complaint and coordinate with any investigation with the appropriate authorities.

Liability of Mandated Reporters

Mandated reporters are entitled to immunity for any report of child abuse or neglect under the Act so long as the report is made in good faith based upon a reasonable cause to suspect abuse or maltreatment of a child.

Failure to report suspected child abuse and maltreatment, or reporting suspected abuse or maltreatment in bad faith (without any basis or where the reporter makes allegations they know to be false) may result in criminal prosecution and civil liability. Any mandated reporter who fails to report suspected child abuse, maltreatment or neglect, or prevents another mandated reporter from doing so, in addition to possible civil and criminal liability, will be subjected to disciplinary action up to and including termination, consistent with any applicable law or collective bargaining agreement.

Training

All staff of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District shall receive training at least once per year on their obligations to report suspected child abuse, maltreatment and neglect. Such training shall include an overview of how to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect as well as a review of the reporting policy and mandated reporting obligations for all staff.

All district staff will receive written guidance annually regarding the reporting of child abuse.

This policy shall remain in full force and effect unless modified by the Board of Education.

Authority: NY Soc. Serv. L. §§ 412, 413, 415, 419, 420.
NY Educ. L. 3028-b

Adopted: 09/28/09