It is the purpose of this policy to affirm district employees’ obligation to assist in identifying possible child abuse, as well as victimization, of students by other school employees and to establish procedures for reporting in compliance with and derived from the Child Protective Services Law of 1990 and its amendments.
Administrator – The superintendent.
Applicant – An individual who applies for a position as a school employee. The term includes an individual who transfers from one position as a school employee to another position as a school employee within the district.
Child Abuse – The term child abuse shall mean any of the following:
- Any recent act or failure to act by a perpetrator that causes non-accidental serious physical injury to a child less than eighteen (18) years of age.
- Any act or failure to act by a perpetrator who causes non-accidental serious mental injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child less than eighteen (18) years of age.
- Any recent act, failure to act, or series of such acts or failures to act by a perpetrator which creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under eighteen (18) years of age.
- Serious physical neglect by a perpetrator constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or the failure to provide essentials of life, including adequate medical care, which endangers a child’s life or development or impairs the child’s functioning.
No child shall be deemed to be physically or mentally abused based on injuries that result solely from environmental factors that are beyond the control of the parent or person responsible for the child’s welfare, such as inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing, and medical care.
County Agency – The Chester County Department of Children, Youth and Families supervised by the Department of Public Welfare under the Public Welfare Code.
Founded Report for School Employees – A report made by the county agency regarding a school employee’s conduct related to a student if there has been any judicial adjudication based on a finding that the victim has suffered serious bodily injury, or sexual abuse or exploitation, including the entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or a finding of guilt to a criminal charge involving the same factual circumstances involved in the allegations of the report.
Indicated Report for School Employee – A report made by the county agency regarding a school employee’s conduct related to a student if an investigation by the county agency determines that substantial evidence of serious bodily injury, or sexual abuse or exploitation exists based on any of the following:
- available medical evidence;
- the county agency’s investigation;
- an admission of the acts of abuse by the school employee.
School Employee – An individual employed by a public or private school, intermediate unit, or area vocational-technical school. The term includes independent contractors and employees. The term excludes an individual who has no direct contact with the students.
Serious Bodily Injury – Bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ.
Serious Mental Injury – A psychological condition, as diagnosed by a physician or licensed psychologist, including the refusal of appropriate treatment that renders a child chronically and severely anxious, agitated, depressed, socially withdrawn, psychotic, or in reasonable fear that the child’s life or safety is threatened; or seriously interferes with a child’s ability to accomplish age-appropriate developmental and social tasks. Serious Physical Injury – An injury that causes severe pain or significantly impairs a child’s physical functioning, either temporarily or permanently.
Sexual Abuse or Exploitation – The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in or assist any other person to engage in any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction, including photographing, videotaping, computer depicting or filming, of any sexually explicit conduct or the rape, sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, molestation, incest, indecent exposure, prostitution, statutory sexual assault, or other form of sexual exploitation of children.
Student – An individual enrolled in a public or private school, intermediate unit, or area vocational-technical school who is under eighteen (18) years of age.
Duties of School Employees
A school employee who has reasonable cause to suspect, on the basis of professional or other training and experience, that a child coming before the school employee in the employee’s professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse shall immediately notify the administrator. If the administrator is the accused abuser, a school employee shall report to law enforcement officials and the district attorney (in the case of abuse by a school employee against a student) or to the Department of Welfare and the county agency (in other cases) as provided by law and this policy.
The privileged communication between any professional person required to notify or report and the patient, or client of that person shall not apply to situations involving child abuse and shall not constitute grounds for failure to notify or report as required by law and this policy.
Duties of Administrator
Upon receiving notice of child abuse or upon independent reasonable cause to suspect child abuse, the administrator shall report as follows:
When the child abuse is alleged to have been committed by a school employee against a student, the administrator shall report immediately to law enforcement officials and the district attorney, which report shall include the name, age, address, and school of the student; the name and address of the student’s parent or guardian; name and address of the administrator; name and work and home addresses of the school employee; nature of the alleged offense; and any specific comments or observations that are directly related to the alleged incident and the individuals involved.
When the child abuse is not alleged to have been committed by a school employee, the administrator shall report immediately by telephone to the Department of Public Welfare and in writing, on the form supplied by the Department, to the county agency within forty-eight hours of the oral report.
Failure to Report Child Abuse
A school employee who willfully violates the duty to report suspected child abuse or the requirement of confidentiality concerning a report commits a summary offense for the first violation and a misdemeanor of the third degree for a second or subsequent violation.
An administrator who willfully fails to report immediately to law enforcement officials and the appropriate district attorney any report of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation alleged to have been committed by a school employee against a student commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.
Immunity from Liability
A school employee who participates in good faith in the making of a report, cooperating with an investigation, or testifying in a proceeding arising out of an instance of suspected child abuse and any official who refers a report of suspected child abuse to law enforcement authorities shall have immunity from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise result by reason of those actions. For the purpose of any civil or criminal proceeding, the good faith of a person required to report suspected child abuse and of any person required to make a referral to law enforcement officers under the law shall be presumed.
The school employee making a report of student abuse or injury by another employee shall not reveal the existence or content of the report to any person other than those to whom the reporting is required under this policy.
Cooperation with Investigation
School employees shall cooperate with the Department of Public Welfare and the county agency by providing them, upon request, with the information as is consistent with law. Cooperation shall include permitting authorized personnel from the Department or the county agency to interview a student while the student is in attendance at school. Any school employee who willfully fails to cooperate with the Department or the county agency when investigating a report of child abuse commits a summary offense for a first violation and a misdemeanor of the third degree for subsequent violations.
Official Clearance Statement
The superintendent shall require each applicant to the district and any employee who transfers from one position to another within the district to submit an official clearance statement issued within the preceding year by the Department of Public Welfare. No applicant may be hired who is named as the perpetrator in a founded report or is named as an individual responsible for injury or abuse in a founded report for school employment. This requirement does not apply to a school employee under twenty-one (21) years of age participating in a job development or training program who is employed for not more than ninety (90) days or to a school employee from Pennsylvania hired on a provisional basis for thirty (30) days or from another state on a provisional basis for ninety (90) days who demonstrates that s/he applied for an official clearance statement and attests in writing under oath or affirmation that s/he is not disqualified under this requirement when the administrator has no knowledge to the contrary and the hiring does not take place during an authorized strike.
No school employee as of July 1, 1996, shall be required to obtain an official clearance statement as a condition of continued employment.
The superintendent shall develop procedures for investigating allegations of a school employee injuring or abusing a student which shall include the following:
- Written notice of this policy and of district procedures for reporting and investigating such allegations against school employees to parents and district staff. A copy of this policy shall be provided to each employee required to report.
- A system of communication with local law enforcement to coordinate, among other things, the interviews of the victimized student and the accused school employee.
- A process to coordinate the collection of evidence with the county agency and law enforcement so that necessary physical evidence, photographs, and medical records are identified and shared, if legally permissible.
- A requirement to request from the county agency the disposition of its investigation with an indication of whether the report was unfounded, indicated, or founded.
- If a certified employee is dismissed for cause for acts underlying the report or law enforcement charges or the court convicts for a crime of moral turpitude, then the superintendent shall report to the Department of Education.
- This procedure incorporates any guidelines and/or recommendations issued by the Department of Public Welfare, including but not limited to the guidelines issued in September of 1995, No. 3490-95-02.
Original Adoption – September 10, 2001