March 5, 2014
State Schools Chief Releases Guidelines Helping Parents
Identify and Report Child Abuse
SACRAMENTO—Parents and guardians have a new and updated tool in their efforts to keep their children safe, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today as he released revised "Child Abuse Reporting Procedures for Parents and Guardians."
"Every child deserves to feel safe all the time," Torlakson said. "And a secure environment surrounded by caring adults helps them learn better as they prepare for college and careers. These guidelines add another layer of protection, by clearly defining what is child abuse, how to file a complaint with the proper authorities, and the process to address these complaints."
Torlakson explained in a letter to school officials today that California Education Code Section 48987 requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to adopt guidelines for parents and guardians to follow if they want to file a complaint against a person for allegedly abusing their child at school. The guidelines first define child abuse as negligent treatment, willful injury or harm, sexual abuse, assault, and/or exploitation. Child abuse does not include a fight between two minors, or injury caused by an adult or peace officer who is trying to stop a disturbance.
Local educational agencies should share these guidelines with their students, parents, and guardians, Torlakson said. The guidelines advise parents or guardians of their right to file a child abuse complaint with the proper authorities. These include police departments, sheriff's departments, or county probation, welfare, or child protective services departments. Once a complaint of child abuse is confirmed, the law enforcement agency will then send a report of its investigation to the governing school board that oversees the school where the abuse occurred. A confirmed report of child abuse will also be sent to the California Department of Justice's Child Abuse Central Index, and a notice will be sent to the alleged abuser that he or she is being listed in the Index. A complaint may also be filed with the local educational agency. The local educational agency does not investigate allegations, but it does investigate possible further action against the alleged abuser.
If a student receiving special education services is an alleged victim of child abuse, a parent or guardian may also file a complaint with the CDE. The CDE investigates conditions that may involve an immediate physical danger or threat to the health, safety, or welfare of a child.
For more information on the reporting of child abuse, visit the CDE's Child Abuse Prevention Web page and the Child Abuse Reporting Procedures for Parents and Guardians Web page.