Child abuse, neglect and exploitation are violations of children’s human rights and an obstacle to their educational development. The district directs that staff will be alert for any evidence of such abuse, neglect or exploitation. For purposes of this policy, “child abuse, neglect or exploitation” will mean:
A. 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;
B. Creating a substantial risk of physical harm to a child’s bodily functioning;
C. 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;
D. 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;
E. Assaulting or criminally mistreating a child as defined by the criminal code;
F. Failing to provide food, shelter, clothing, supervision or health care necessary to a child’s health or safety;
G. 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; or
H. Failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the occurrence of the preceding actions.
Children (including other students), family members and any other adult can engage in child abuse, neglect or exploitation. This may include incidents of student-on-student misconduct. Staff should report all incidents of abuse regardless of the age of the person who engages in it.
Subject to the definition above, staff should not focus on a person’s mental status to determine if the person has committed child abuse, neglect or exploitation. The law governing mandated reporting does not allow for exceptions for people with medical conditions that may mitigate the intent for committing child abuse, neglect or exploitation.
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 will also encourage staff to participate in in-service programs that deal with the issues surrounding child abuse.
The superintendent will develop reporting procedures, including sample indicators of abuse and neglect, and will 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 will receive training regarding reporting obligations during their initial orientation and every three years after initial employment.
Classified and certified staff 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 will report such abuse or misconduct to the appropriate school administrator. The administrator will 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 are free from liability for reporting instances of abuse or neglect and professional staff are 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.
Policy 3226 – Interviews and Interrogations of Students on School Premises
Policy 4310 – District Relationships with Law Enforcement and Other Governmental Agencies
RCW13.34.300 Relevance of failure to cause juvenile to attend school to neglect petition
RCW 26.44.020 Abuse of Children — Definitions
RCW 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 — Investigations — Interviews of children — Records — Risk assessment process
RCW 28A.320.160 Alleged sexual misconduct by school employee — Parental notification — Information on public records act
RCW 28A.400.317 Physical abuse or sexual misconduct by school employees — Duty to Report —Training
RCW 28A.620.010 Community Education Programs — Purposes
RCW 28A.620.020 Restrictions — Classes on parenting skills and child abuse prevention encouraged
RCW 43.43.830 Background checks — Access to children or vulnerable persons
WAC 388-15-009 What is child abuse or neglect?
AGO 1987, No. 9 Children — Child Abuse — Reporting by School Officials — Alleged Abuse by Student
Policy News, June 2015 Child Abuse Prevention Policy Reinforced
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