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Abuse of Students by School Employees
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23 Pa. C.S.A. Section 6352

DATE OF ISSUE:  July 1, 1999
REPLACES:     Abuse of Students by School Employees, 
BEC 23 Pa. C.S. Section 6301-6385
issued July 1, 1998 Act 151 of 1994, signed into law on December 16, 1994, amended the Department of Public Welfare's Child Protective Services Law (CPSL). The purpose of this notice to the schools is to outline those changes which affect a school's policies and procedures regarding the reporting of suspected abuse of students by school employees and background checks for employment. It is important for school administrators to be aware of the following summary points regarding Act 151's amendments of the Child Protective Services Law: The amendments establish a separate category of abuse called abuse of a student by a school employee which involves either serious bodily injury, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation. Effective July 1, 1995, school administrators must report suspected abuse of students by school employees to the district attorney and the local police. The Department of Public Welfare's form for reporting employee abuse of students is included. -- Procedures to report suspected child abuse by person(s) responsible for the general welfare of the child have not been changed by the amendments; consequently, current school policies and procedures for reporting suspected child abuse which were consistent with the Child Protective Services Law (23 Pa. C.S. Section 6311 and 6313) remain unchanged. School administrators or their designees are required to report suspected child abuse to ChildLine as they have in the past. To report suspected child abuse an administrator or designee must call ChildLine's toll free number 1-800-932-0313. The Department of Public Welfare encourages school administrators or their designees to place a follow-up call to the local county children and youth agency. -- Effective July 1, 1996, applicants for positions in the schools will be required to secure an official clearance from the Department of Public Welfare and the state police clearance required by Section 111 of the School Code, 24 P.S. Section 1-111. This official clearance statement will also apply to some categories of current school employees as outlined below. -- Any school, including public, nonpublic and private academic schools, which meets the compulsory attendance requirements falls under the scope of the Child Protective Services Law, as amended. Applicable Definitions: Abuse of a student by a school employee - 1. Serious bodily injury which creates substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ. 2. Sexual abuse or exploitation which involves the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of any child to engage in or assist any other person to engage in any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of any sexually explicit conduct, or the rape, molestation, incest, prostitution, statutory sexual assault, or other form of sexual exploitation of children. Administrator - The person responsible for the administration of a public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school. The term includes an independent contractor. County Agency - County Children and Youth social service agency. Founded report for a school employee - A report where there has been any judicial adjudication based on a finding that the victim has suffered serious bodily injury or sexual abuse or exploitation, including entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or a finding of guilt to a criminal charge involving the same factual circumstance involved in the allegations of the report. Indicated report for a school employee - A report where an investigation by the county agency determines that substantial evidence of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse or exploitation exists based on any of the following: 1. available medical evidence; 2. the county agency's investigation; 3. an admission of the act(s) of abuse or injury by the school employee. Public or private school - This refers to ALL schools in the Commonwealth including public and nonpublic schools as defined in the School Code and private academic schools as defined in the Regulations of the State Board of Private Academic Schools. Private Rehabilitative Residential Institutions and other day treatment programs, which may not fall within the definition of the term school, are still subject to the child abuse provisions of the Child Protective Services Law. School employees - Persons employed by a public or private school, intermediate unit, or area vocational technical school, including persons employed as or employed by an independent contractor of a school. The term excludes persons who have no direct contact with students. Student - An individual enrolled in a public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational technical school who is under 18 years of age. Subject of a report - The child, parent, guardian or other person responsible for the welfare of the child or the school employee named in a report of suspected student abuse made to the Department of Public Welfare or a county agency under the Child Protective Services law. Unfounded report for school employee - Any report of student abuse unless the report is a founded report for a school employee or an indicated report for a school employee. I. Reporting Requirements -- Effective July 1, 1995 Mandatory reporting of suspected staff abuse of students in public and private schools (Child Protective Services Law, Chapter 63, Subchapter C. 1 "Students in Public and Private Schools") A school employee who has reasonable cause to suspect, on the basis of professional or other training or experience, that a student coming before him or her, in the employee's professional or official capacity, is a victim of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation by another school employee, shall immediately notify the administrator. This reporting requirement applies whenever a school employee is (1) suspected of abusing a student and (2) is functioning in his or her role as a school employee regardless of when or where the abuse or injury occurred. The Department of Public Welfare's form for reporting employee abuse of students is included. The student must be physically seen by the employee before the school employee is mandated to report the suspected abuse or injury. When a school employee learns of suspected student abuse from another person, the school employee shall see the student and make a report of suspected student abuse if the reporting school employee has reasonable cause to suspect that the student was a victim of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse or exploitation by a school employee. The reporting school employee may not reveal the existence or content of the report to another person. A school employee who makes a report in good faith of suspected abuse of a student by another school employee, or of child abuse, is immune from civil and criminal liability arising out of the report. Any school employee who willfully violates the reporting requirement commits a summary offense for the first violation. Any employee who commits a subsequent violation is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree. Reporting Suspected Student Abuse by Employees to the District Attorney and the Local Police An administrator, upon being notified of suspected abuse, shall report immediately to law enforcement officials and the appropriate district attorney the suspected abuse or injury alleged to have been committed by a school employee against a student. The same reporting is required if the administrator suspects the injury or abuse. An administrator who reports suspected abuse is immune from civil or criminal liability arising out of the report. In cases where the administrator is the employee suspected of abusing the student, the school employee who suspects the abuse shall immediately report that information to law enforcement officials and the appropriate district attorney. The report shall include the student's name, age, address and school, and the name and address of the student's parent or guardian, the school administrator and the school employee suspected of the abuse. The nature of the offense and any comments or observations relevant to the incident must also be included. The Department of Public Welfare's REPORT OF SUSPECTED STUDENT ABUSE form is included for your information and use. When a school employee notifies an administrator that he or she suspects that a student is the victim of serious bodily injury, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, the administrator may not make an independent evaluation or investigation to decide whether or not to make a report to law enforcement officials and the appropriate district attorney. The law requires the administrator to report the suspected abuse immediately. An administrator who willfully violates the reporting requirement commits a misdemeanor of the third degree. Nothing prevents the school from conducting its own investigation after making the report to law enforcement and the district attorney. However, the school district is urged to coordinate its investigation with local law enforcement and Child Protective Services so as not to jeopardize any criminal investigation or prosecution. The school may take any action that the school district deems appropriate in accordance with provisions of the School Code and district policies and procedures. Willful Failure to Cooperate A school district, facility, or any person acting on behalf of a school district or facility, that willfully fails to cooperate with the Department of Public Welfare or county agency when investigating a report of child abuse or suspected abuse of a student by a school employee, or when assessing risk to the child, commits a summary offense for a first violation and a misdemeanor of the third degree for subsequent violations. Notifications by the County Agency Prior to the initial interview with an employee suspected of abusing a student, the county agency must orally notify the subject of the report about the existence of the report, the allegations of abuse and his or her rights regarding amendment or expunction. Written notice shall be provided to the subject of the report within 72 hours of the oral notification. Notice may be reasonably delayed if notification is likely to threaten the safety of the student or the county agency worker, to cause the school employee to abscond or to significantly interfere with the conduct of a criminal investigation. The county agency shall notify, in writing, the school administrator or employee who made the report to the district attorney and law enforcement officials of the final status of the report, i.e., founded, indicated or unfounded, when the county agency notifies ChildLine. Required Reporting to PDE The school code requires school officials to report to the Department of Education when an employee is dismissed for cause. Therefore, if an employee is dismissed because of abuse of students, the school officials must report the dismissal to PDE. School officials must also report when an employee is formally charged with or convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. Because child abuse and abuse of students are crimes that involve moral turpitude, school officials must report to PDE if an employee is charged with or convicted of one of these crimes. The School's Mandatory Report Form included and procedures are in Basic Education Circular Section 2070.9(1) for your information and use. See 24 P.S. Section 2070.9 and 22 Pa. Code Section 237.9. II. Background Checks and Continued Employment -- Effective July 1, 1996 Background checks for employment in schools (Child Protective Services Law, Chapter 63, Subchapter C. 2 "Background Checks for Employment in Schools") An administrator shall require each applicant to submit an official clearance statement obtained from the Department of Public Welfare within the immediately preceding year as to whether the applicant is named as the perpetrator of an indicated or a founded report or is named as the individual responsible for injury or abuse in an indicated report for school employee or a founded report for school employee. The current fee for an official clearance statement is $10. In addition to the clearance from the Department of Public Welfare, the state police clearance is also required pursuant to Act 34, per 24 P.S. Section 1-111. An administrator shall not hire an applicant if the Department of Public Welfare verifies that the applicant is named as the perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse or is named as the individual responsible for injury or abuse in a founded report for a school employee. An administrator who willfully violates the official clearance requirement shall be subject to an administrative penalty of $2,500. The law does not address the continued employment of a school employee who is the subject of a founded report. However, Section 527 of the Pa. School Code does require immediate termination of employment of a person convicted of any of the offenses listed in Section 111 of the School Code which includes such offenses as kidnapping, unlawful restraint, rape, statutory rape, indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent exposure, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and others. Official Department of Public Welfare Clearance Statement (a) No individual who is a school employee as of July 1, 1996, shall be required to obtain an official clearance statement. Also, the clearance statement shall not be required for an applicant transferring positions within the same school district or organization and has, prior to the transfer, already obtained an official clearance statement. (b) An official clearance statement from DPW is not required of a school employee who is under 21 years of age, in a job training program and employed for not more than 90 days. (c) A school employee may be hired on a provisional basis for up to 30 days, if a state resident, or 90 days, if from out of state, without a DPW official clearance statement. However, the individual hired provisionally would need to have applied for the clearance and attest in writing by oath or affirmation that he/she is not a perpetrator in a founded report of child abuse or named in a founded report as a school employee. The administrator must also have no knowledge of information which would disqualify the applicant under the Child Protective Services law. This provisional hiring may not occur during a strike. School District Policies and Procedures School districts are encouraged to take prompt action adopting policies and procedures which will meet their new obligations under the amended Child Protective Services Law. At a minimum, schools should (1) inform employees and contractors who provide services to the school of the major provisions of the law and of their responsibilities for reporting suspected abuse; (2) establish reporting procedures with local police and the district attorney; (3) inform parents and students of the law and of the appropriate procedures for informing school staff of situations which fall under the scope of the law; and (4) contact the local County Children and Youth Service Agency regarding its procedures relative to the amended Child Protective Services Law. Issues related to abuse of students, as well as child abuse, should be part of the school district's comprehensive violence prevention program. Planned training programs should be used to inform school employees of their responsibilities under the law and the steps to take to prevent the occurrence of abuse of students. A comprehensive violence prevention program is the primary starting point for dealing with any form of abuse. REFERENCES: Purdon's Statutes 23 Pa. C.S. Chapter 63 24 P.S. Section 2070.5 (a) (11) (formerly 24 P.S. Section 12-1255(a)(11) 24 P.S. Section 2070.9 (b) (formerly 24 P.S. Section 12-1259(b) 24 P.S. Section 5-527 24 P.S. Section 1-111 Professional Standards and Practices Commission Regulations 22 Pa. Code, Section 237.9 CONTACT BUREAU/OFFICE: Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau of Community and Student Services Division of Student and Safe School Services 333 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17126 Phone: (717) 772-2429 Department of Public Welfare Office of Children, Youth & Families P. O. Box 2675 Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675 Phone: (717) 787-3986 ATTACHMENTS: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania School's Mandatory Report Form DPW Report of Suspected Student Abuse Form Commonwealth of Pennsylvania School's Mandatory Report Form (PDE-349) ******************************************************************** This form appears in text format below. It is also available in Word 6.0, WordPerfect 6.1, and PDF format on the PDE Web Site - www.pde.state.pa.us, under Elementary/Secondary Education, click on BECs, then click on Abuse of Students by School Employees ******************************************************************** DPW Report of Suspected Student Abuse Form ******************************************************************** The DPW Report of Suspected Student Abuse Form contains formatting that could not be transmitted on this text based system. This form is available in PDF format on the PDE Web Site - www.pde.state.pa.us under Elementary/Secondary Education, click on BECs, then click on Abuse of Students by School Employees. ******************************************************************** CONTACT BUREAU/OFFICE: Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau of Community and Student Services Division of Student and Safe School Services 333 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17126 Phone: (717) 772-2429 OR Department of Public Welfare Office of Children, Youth & Families P. O. Box 2675 Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675 Phone: (717) 787-3986 ==================================================================== PDE-349 (revised 6/98) MANDATORY REPORT FORM The School Laws REQUIRE school officials to report promptly to the Department of Education the following: 1) an educator who is DISMISSED for cause; 2) an educator who is CHARGED with a crime involving moral turpitude or some other offense requiring mandatory suspension or revocation; 3) an educator who is CONVICTED of a crime involving moral turpitude or any other offense requiring mandatory suspension or revocation. (24 P.S. Section 2070.9(b)). While the above situations are mandatory, the Department of Education STRONGLY ENCOURAGES school officials to similarly report educators who RESIGN TO AVOID A DISMISSAL for cause, even if there is no dismissal proceeding, formal charge, or conviction. The Department is especially interested in learning of matters involving danger to students or others in the schools. Send this completed form, with supporting documentation to: Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of the Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education, 333 Market Street, 12th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333, Attention: Nancy Avolese. 1. SCHOOL ENTITY: A. Name and Address ______________________________________________ ______________________________________________ ______________________________________________ B. Contact Person ______________________________________________ C. Telephone Number (_____)_______________________________________ 2. COUNTY/STATE WHERE CONDUCT OCCURRED: _____________________ 3. EDUCATOR'S INFORMATION: A. Name ___________________________________________________________ B. Social Security Number ______________ C. Date of Birth ________ D. Most Recent Position ___________________________________________ E. Telephone Number (Home)________________ (Work)__________________ F. Home Address (Please complete and check box below) _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ [ ] Address is current [ ] Address is most recent but may be inaccurate 4. CURRENT STATUS OF EDUCATOR: [ ] In classroom [ ] Temporarily Reassigned [ ] Suspended with pay on __________ [ ] Resigned on __________ Date Date [ ] Suspended without pay on _________[ ] Dismissed on __________ Date Date PDE-349 (revised 6/98) --------------------------------------------------------------------- MANDATORY REPORT FORM 5. [ ] DISMISSED FOR CAUSE OR [ ] RESIGNED IN ORDER TO AVOID BEING . DISMISSED: A. Check the reason(s) the educator was dismissed or would have been dismissed: [ ] Immorality [ ] Drugs or Narcotics [ ] Intemperance [ ] Cruelty [ ] Incompetence [ ] Negligence [ ] Persistent and Willful [ ] Forged or Altered Certificate Violation of School Laws [ ] Other ____________________________________________ B. Briefly describe the facts surrounding the dismissal and the act or behavior of the educator. ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ C. If a dismissal hearing or arbitration hearing was held, indicate the date(s) of the hearing(s) and the date of the final decision: _________________________________________________________ D. Attach the following supporting documentation when applicable: 1. Certified copies of ratings. 2. Copies of applicable policies and/or directives. 3. Certified copies of applicable Board minutes. 4. Copy of educator's resignation, any resignation agreements, and evidence of the Board's acceptance of the resignation. Note: There is no need to forward transcripts. The Department will request copies if necessary. 6. CHARGED WITH, OR CONVICTED OF, A CRIME OF MORAL TURPITUDE: A. List the crime(s): ________________________________________________________________________ B. List the county in which the educator was charged/convicted: ________________________________________________________________________ C. List the docket number:__________________________________________ D. List the date of the charge/conviction/sentencing:_______________ E. List the name of the district magistrate: _______________________ F. Enclose a copy of any available criminal court documents. ____________________________________________________________ (Signature of Chief School Administrator) (Date) PDE-349 (revised 6/98)