Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Guidelines to Report Child Abuse Allegations

California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
March 5, 2014

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

REVISED GUIDELINES FOR PARENTS AND GUARDIANS TO FOLLOW TO
REPORT ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE OCCURRING AT A SCHOOL SITE

As educators, our most important duty is the protection of the children in our care. California Education Code requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to adopt guidelines parents and guardians can follow in the event that they need to file a complaint of child abuse against a school official, employee, or other person for abuse allegedly committed against a child at a school site.

The attached guidelines, which the CDE recently revised, describe the recommended procedures to be followed in filing such a complaint.

Pursuant to California Education Code Section 48987, the school district or County Office of Education (COE) shall, upon request, disseminate these guidelines to parents and guardians of students in their primary language.

In addition to disseminating these guidelines, school districts and COEs are encouraged to inform parents and guardians who inquire about filing a complaint of child abuse occurring at a school site of these guidelines and how they can go about filing such a report. If a parent or guardian seeks such information and speaks a primary language other than English, the district or COE shall provide for an interpreter for that parent or guardian.

The attached guidelines set forth the process a parent or guardian should follow in the event of an alleged incident of abuse at a school site. The process includes filing a formal report with an “appropriate law enforcement agency.” An appropriate law enforcement agency may be any of the following:

  • A local police or sheriff’s department (not including a school district police department or school security department)
  • A county probation department if designated by the county to receive child abuse reports
  • A county welfare department or county child protective services

The law enforcement agency is required by law to investigate all complaints. If the complaint is determined to be “substantiated” by the law enforcement agency, that agency shall transmit a copy of the report to the governing board of the school district or COE governing the school site.

The district or COE must handle the report within the provisions set forth in California Education Code Section 44031 pertaining to personnel records. In addition, a copy of any substantiated report would be forwarded to the California Department of Justice for reporting to the Child Abuse Central Index database.

In addition, these guidelines advise that if the child is disabled and enrolled in special education, a parent or guardian may file a separate complaint with the CDE Special Education Division. While the CDE does not investigate allegations of child abuse, the CDE may investigate any conditions which involve immediate danger or threat to the health, safety, or welfare of a child or which may result in the denial of a free and appropriate education.

Please direct questions about the reporting guidelines to Stephanie Papas, School Health Education Consultant, Coordinated School Health and Safety Office, by phone at 916-445-8441 or by e-mail at spapas@cde.ca.gov. A copy of these guidelines as well as further information on the reporting of child abuse is available on the CDE Child Abuse Prevention Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/ap/.

Sincerely,

Tom Torlakson

TT:ccc
Attachment
2014-01637

Last Reviewed: Thursday, January 22, 2015

Share this Page

Recently Posted in Editorials & Letters

  • Environmental Education Grant Program (added 08-Feb-2016)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding the Environmental Education Grant Program Request for Application.
  • Election Information (added 05-Feb-2016)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and School Principals regarding 2016 presidential election information.
  • Assembly Bill 2160: Submitting GPAs for Cal Grants (added 29-Jan-2016)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and High School Principals regarding the implementation of Assembly Bill 2160, also known as the "Ting Bill".
  • 2016 Classified School Employees of the Year (added 15-Jan-2016)
    Letter to District and County Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding the 2016 Classified School Employees of the Year Program.
  • California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015 (added 15-Jan-2016)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding implementing the California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015.

  • Subject Matter Verification Process (added 15-Jan-2016)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding the California Subject Matter Verification Process for Secondary Teachers in Special Settings Guidebook.
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (added 15-Jan-2016)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (added 13-Jan-2016)
    Letter to U.S. Department of Education regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • Free Mental Health First Aid Training Available (added 06-Jan-2016)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding an opportunity to provide mental health training to school staff at no cost to any county office of education, district, or charter school.
  • New Funding To Increase Educator Quality (added 23-Dec-2015)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Direct-Funded Charter School Administrators regarding new funding to increase educator quality.