Child abuse, neglect and exploitation are violations of children’s human rights and an obstacle to their educational development. The board directs that staff shall be alert for any evidence of such abuse, neglect or exploitation. For purposes of this policy, “child abuse, neglect or exploitation” shall mean:
- Inflicting physical injury on a child by other than accidental means, causing death, disfigurement, skin bruising, impairment of physical or emotional health, or loss or impairment of any bodily function.
- Creating a substantial risk of physical harm to a child’s bodily functioning.
- Committing or allowing to be committed any sexual offense against a child as defined in the criminal code, or intentionally touching, either directly or through the clothing, the genitals, anus or breasts of a child for other than hygiene, child care or health care purposes.
- Committing acts which are cruel or inhumane regardless of observable injury. Such acts may include, but are not limited to, instances of extreme discipline demonstrating a disregard of a child’s pain or mental suffering.
- Assaulting or criminally mistreating a child as defined by the criminal code.
- Failing to provide food, shelter, clothing, supervision or health care necessary to a child’s health or safety.
- Engaging in actions or omissions resulting in injury to, or creating a substantial risk to the physical or mental health or development of a child.
- Failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the occurrence of the preceding actions.
Child abuse can include abuse by another minor and may be included in incidents of student misconduct.
When feasible, the district will provide community education programs for prospective parents, foster parents and adoptive parents on parenting skills and on the problems of child abuse and methods to avoid child abuse situations. The district shall also encourage staff to participate in in-service programs that deal with the issues surrounding child abuse.
The superintendent shall develop reporting procedures, including sample indicators of abuse and neglect, and shall disseminate the procedures to all staff. The purpose is to identify and report as soon as possible to the proper authorities all evidence of child abuse or neglect. Staff shall receive training regarding reporting obligations during their initial orientation periodically throughout their employment.
Classified and certified staffs are legally responsible for reporting all suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. A certificated or classified school employee who has knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that a student has been a victim of physical abuse or sexual misconduct by another school employee shall report such abuse or misconduct to the appropriate school administrator. The administrator shall report to the proper law enforcement agency if he or she has reasonable cause to believe that the misconduct or abuse has occurred as required under RCW 26.44.030. Under state law, staff is free from liability for reporting instances of abuse or neglect, and professional staff is criminally liable for failure to do so.
Staff need not verify that a child has in fact been abused or neglected. Any conditions or information that may reasonably be related to abuse or neglect should be reported. Legal authorities have the responsibility for investigating each case and taking such action as is appropriate under the circumstances. School staff shall not make any student available for an investigative interview, with government officials, unless the child consents. If the child is under 12 years of age and the request is from law enforcement officials, the law enforcement official must obtain parental consent, a court order, a warrant, or stipulate the existence of exigent circumstances.
Cross References: Board Policy 4310 Relations with the Law Enforcement and Child Protective Agencies
Legal References: RCW 13.34.300 Failure to cause juvenile to attend school as evidence under neglect petition
26.44.020 Child abuse — Definitions
26.44.030 Reports — Duty and authority to make — Duty of receiving agency — Duty to notify — Case planning and consultation — Penalty for unauthorized exchange of information — Filing dependency petitions — Interviews of children — Records — Risk assessment process
28A.620.010 Community education provisions — Purposes
28A.620.020 Community education provisions — Restrictions
43.43.830 Background checks — Access to children or vulnerable persons
28A.320.160 Alleged sexual misconduct by school employee — Parental notification — Information on public records act.
28A.400.317 Physical abuse or sexual misconduct by school employees — Duty to Report — Training
WAC 388-15-009 Definition of child abuse, neglect or exploitation
AGO 1987, No. 9 Children — Child Abuse — Reporting by School Officials — Alleged Abuse by Student
Policy News, April 2010 Child Abuse Interviews at Schools
Policy News, February 2007 Physical Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Notice Requirements
Policy News, June 1999 23% of districts out-of-compliance on child abuse policies
Adoption Date: 7.11
Methow Valley School District