This week two Wichita Falls ISD principals were arrested for failure to report suspected sexual abuse of students to Child Protective Services.
In the first case, grandparents of an elementary student reported to the principal ongoing sexual abuse by another student in the school’s restroom. The principal determined the school counselor was the best trained person to handle the matter. Once police became involved they alleged the principal failed to report the suspected abuse to CPS and that her duty to report cannot be delegated to another person.
The second principal was arrested the next day after police were investigating photos found on an elementary student’s iPad. A teacher discovered the photos of several six-year-old boys engaged in sex acts in the classroom and immediately went to the principal. The principal allegedly sent the students home and called the parents. The principal is charged with failure to report to CPS possible sexual abuse.
These criminal charges are rare but highlight the importance and obligation to report any suspected abuse to Child Protective Services. As a school employee, you have a duty to report suspected or known abuse or neglect within 48 hours. Your duty to report does NOT go away if you report it to your administrator, supervisor, or school counselor. School districts cannot mandate that you report to your administrators first before you report to CPS but can ask you to notify them if you have made a report to CPS. Failure to report is a criminal offense that could also affect your employment status and certification from the state.
Excellent information on what is considered abuse and neglect, the obligation to report, and how to report can be found at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has excellent advice. If you are not sure whether to report, DFPS encourages you to call immediately and ask. The TDFPS abuse hotline is 1-800-252-5400 and you can make an online report by going to www.txabusehotline.org.
How UEA Can Help
If you have questions regarding your duty report, UEA’s three full-time attorneys are ready to answer our UEA members’ questions. Their expertise will guide you through your obligation to report.
UEA also has a professional liability policy that covers every one of our members within the scope of their employment. One important aspect of this policy is coverage for criminal investigations and charges resulting from actions within your employment. Other Associations do not cover criminal investigations only the resulting charges. With UEA, you receive excellent coverage from the beginning of the investigation.
Detailed policy information can be found at www.ueatexas.com/policy