The Child Advocate and Attorney General recently released a report, Protecting Our Children: Improving Protections For Children When Allegations Are Made That School System Personnel Abused and/or Neglected Children, detailing the results of an extensive investigation into the response of local school districts, the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and the State Department of Education when school employees abuse or neglect children. As an Assistant Child Advocate, Attorney Ghio was the lead investigator for the Office of the Child Advocate and supports implementation of the recommendations made in the report.
The investigation, which spanned over four years and the entire state of Connecticut, found major flaws in the systems designed to protect children from abuse and neglect by school employees.
Most significantly, the investigation revealed:
- The State Department of Education does not check of the DCF Child Abuse and Neglect Registry to determine if a person has been found to have abused or neglected a child when licensing teachers, school administrators, and others.
- Only a tiny handful of school districts check the DCF Child Abuse and Neglect Registry to determine if a person applying for employment has been found to have abused or neglected a child.
- School employees who are mandated reporters, and thus legally required to report child abuse and neglect, do not always report suspicion that another school employee has abused and neglected a child to DCF.
- DCF does not have a system in place to document and address failures by mandated reporters to make timely reports.
- When abuse or neglect by school employees is reported to DCF, investigations are not always adequate.
- When school employees are found by DCF to have abused or neglected children, the findings are not always reported to the State Department of Education and the individuals may remain employed in the same district, move within district, or go to other school districts.
The report makes a long list of recommendations designed to address these gaps and others, including requiring DCF background checks on teachers, administrators, and others seeking licensure from the State Department of Education, requiring DCF background checks by local school districts when hiring; requiring regular mandated reporter training for school employees; and requiring DCF to report all substantiated allegations of abuse and neglect by licensed school employees to the State Department of Education.
While most teachers and school administrators are dedicated professionals who do not abuse and neglect children, some school employees do. When this occurs, it is incumbent upon other school employees to report the abuse or neglect to DCF and for DCF, local school officials, and the State Department of Education to take swift action to hold the responsible individuals accountable. Attorney Ghio will be a strong advocate for implementation of the report’s important recommendations to ensure that individuals who abuse or neglect children do not become licensed as educators or administrators and that school employees who do abuse or neglect children are held accountable.
If you believe a child is being abused or neglected by a school employee, or any other person, you should report the abuse to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) by calling 1-800-842-2288 (TDD: 1-800-624-5518). For more information on reporting child abuse and neglect, visit DCF’s “Q &A About Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect.”
See the full report: Protecting Our Children: Improving Protections For Children When Allegations Are Made That School System Personnel Abused and/or Neglected Children.
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