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Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

CODE: JLF

Maine School Administrative District No. 31

REPORTING CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT

I.    DEFINITIONS

            A.     Child abuse or neglect.  Child abuse or neglect is defined by Maine law as “a threat to a child’s health or welfare by
                    physical, mental, or emotional injury or impairment, sexual abuse or exploitation, deprivation of essential needs or lack
                    of protection from these.”
            B.     Person responsible for the child.  A “person responsible for the child” means a person with responsibility for a child’s
                    health or welfare, whether in the child’s home or another home or a facility which, as part of its function, provides for the
                    care of the child.  It includes the child’s parent, guardian or other custodian.

II.    EMPLOYEES’ DUTY TO REPORT

Any employee of the school unit who has reason to suspect that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected must immediately notify the building principal and shall process the report as provided in Section III of this policy.  In addition to notifying the building principal, the employee shall also make a report directly to the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS).  The principal shall make an immediate verbal report to the Superintendent/designee.

III.    ADMINISTRATORS’ DUTIES

        A.   The principal shall distribute copies of policy and reporting forms to all staff and arrange periodic workshops to keep M.S.A.D.
              #31 staff acquainted with changes in the law and educate new staff in their responsibilities under the law.
        B.   The law provides that a report must be made to DHHS when the person suspected is a “person responsible for the child,” or to
              the District Attorney when the person suspected is not a person responsible for the child.  However, because the legal definition
              of “person responsible for the child” is vague, the Superintendent/designee shall report all cases of suspected abuse or neglect
              to DHHS.  In addition, if the person suspected is not the parent, guardian, or other custodian of the child, the Superintendent/
              designee shall also make a report to the District Attorney.
        C.  The Superintendent/designee shall retain a record of all verbal and written reports made to DHHS, the District Attorney, or other
             outside agencies as well as all actions taken by the school unit.

IV.    REPORTING PROCEDURES

               The verbal report shall include the following information, if known:

                A.    The name and address of the child and the persons responsible for his/her care or custody;
                B.    The child’s date of birth and sex;
                C.    The nature and extent of the alleged abuse or neglect, including description of injuries and any explanation given for
                       them;
                D.    A description of alleged sexual abuse or exploitation, if any;
                E.    The source of the report, the person making the report, his/her occupation, and where he/she can be contacted;
                F.    The person reporting the abuse should get the name of the person they are reporting the abuse to.  Any other
                       information the person making the report believes may be helpful

V.       INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS AND DISCIPLINE

                A.        Employees.  If the person suspected of abuse or neglect is an employee, the Superintendent/designee shall
                           investigate and take appropriate action, in accordance with applicable Board policies, collective bargaining contracts,
                           and federal and state laws.
               B.         Students.  If the person suspected of abuse or neglect is a student, and the abuse or neglect occurred on school
                           premises, during a school activity, or is otherwise related to the school, the Superintendent/designee shall investigate
                           and take appropriate action, in accordance with applicable Board policies and federal and state laws.

VI.      INTERVIEWS OF CHILD AND SCHOOL PERSONNEL

               DHHS personnel shall be permitted to meet with and interview the child named in the report at school during school hours upon
               written certification from the DHHS that:  (1) the interviewer of the child is an authorized representative of the Department
               of Health & Human Services; (2) there are reasonable grounds to believe that prior notice to the child’s parent/guardian would
               increase the threat of serious harm to the child or another person; and (3) the interview of the child at school during school
               hours is necessary to carry out the Department’s duties under Maine law, by filling out JLF-E-2
   
VII.    CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION AND RECORDS

               All records, reports and information concerning alleged cases of child abuse and neglect shall be kept confidential to the extent
               required by Board policies and applicable law.

               The building principal/designee is permitted to release a child’s school records without prior consent of the parent/guardian\
               to DHHS or law enforcement officials as necessary to protect the health or safety of the child or other individuals under federal
               law.

VIII.   GOOD FAITH IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY

             Any person who in good faith reports or participates in the investigation or proceedings of child protection investigation is
             immune from any criminal or civil liability for the act of reporting or participating in the investigation or proceeding.  Good faith
             does not include instances when a false report is made and the person knows the report is false.


Legal Reference:    22 MRSA § 4011-A
                            20 USC § 1232g, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Cross Reference:    ACAA – Harassment and Sexual Harassment of Students
                            JLF-E – Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect Report Form
                            JRA – Student Records

First Reading:        10/18/2006
Second Reading:    11/15/2006