School Staff Goes Back to the Classroom for Mandated Reporter Training
- By John Stephens
- September 6th, 2018
Kids are not the only ones who will be heading back to the classroom as the new school year begins. Across the state of California, school staff must also undergo Mandated Reporter training to help prevent the tragic epidemic of child abuse in our schools.
It is estimated that one out of ten K-12 students will experience some sort of sexual misconduct by a school employee during their lifetime. Unfortunately, abuse in our schools is a reality that must be confronted proactively.
Mandated Reporter training is not just a great idea to help keep kids safe, it’s also compulsory under California law, specifically AB 1432 (Chapter 797, Statutes of 2014). The law requires that all school personnel identified as Mandated Reporters undergo training within six weeks of the start of their employment, as well as annually within six weeks of the start of each new school year. Tracking, reporting and retaining a record of this training is also essential for school districts to defend liability claims.
As we head back to school, here is a brief summary of the law and its requirements:
WHO needs to be trained? All Mandated Reporters under Section 11165.7 of the Penal Code who are employed by an employer subject to AB 1432. This applies to all school district employees including teachers, aides and school administrators. The law is regulated by the California Department of Education.
WHAT does the training entail? Mandated Reporter training provides education on their responsibilities under the law, tools to identify suspicious behaviors, and training on how and when to take action.
WHEN does this training take place? This training must take place within six weeks of first being hired, and annually within the first six weeks of the start of each new school year.
WHERE does the law apply? According to the law, employers including school districts, county offices of education, state special schools and diagnostic centers operated by the California Department of Education, and charter schools must provide this training.
WHY was the law put in place? Mandated Reporter training is vital for keeping our kids safer at school. Recognizing sexual offenders on campus is difficult, but the signs of sexual abuse and grooming behaviors can be easier to identify if you know what to look for.
Mandated Reporters are often the first line of defense for our children in preventing and stopping sexual abuse in our schools. For these individuals, reporting suspected abuse is the law. School staff can be fined, lose their teaching credentials, and possibly even go to jail if they fail to comply.
The best way to keep kids safe at school is to create an environment that helps prevent misconduct from happening in the first place. In addition to Mandated Reporter training, every school should have a code of conduct for their campus, including appropriate staff-student boundaries. The school has an obligation to make sure everyone understands it, and to discipline violators without discrimination. Districts should also display Mandated Reporter posters at each school site in visible locations and break rooms, listing the phone numbers of the local Child Protective Services and law enforcement agencies where suspected abuse must be reported.
More information, training materials, sample policies and other downloadable resources for schools are available for free at the Keenan School Safety Center located at www.keenan.com/school-safety-center/.
By going back to the classroom each year for Mandated Reporter training and ensuring the proper procedures are in place, all district and school staff members play an important role in keeping kids safe at school.