Assembly Public Safety Committee TestimonyState Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson's testifies on Assembly Bill 1432 at the State Capitol in Sacramento on April 29, 2014.
Good morning, Assembly Member Ammiano (chair) and Assembly Member Melendez (vice chair). Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
I'm here as a teacher—a parent and grandparent—and as State Superintendent of Public Instruction to share my support for Assembly Bill 1432.
Nothing is more important than the safety of our children. As you know, school employees feel a genuine responsibility toward the children they serve—and for more than their education—for their safety and wellbeing. School employees are often the first to observe changes in students, both subtle and dramatic, including injuries, depression, and more.
Indeed, school employees are classified as mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse—and rightly so. They work with children every day and so are in a key position to identify and report abuse.
Assembly Bill 1432 would help ensure school employees have the tools needed to accomplish this. It requires their employers to train them in how to identify signs of abuse and neglect and report them.
California has had child abuse reporting laws on the books for more than five decades. These statutes have evolved over the years and have expanded the number and nature of mandatory reporter groups.
However, the law has never required that they receive any training—which does a disservice both to school employees and to the children they strive to protect.
This bill also ensures support for the local educational agencies providing this training. It requires my California Department of Education to work with the state Office of Child Abuse Prevention and the Department of Social Services to develop information and guidelines on mandatory reporter training.
And, importantly, it requires the training to specify that failure to report is a misdemeanor punishable by jail time and a fine.
I've worked over the years to put measures in place to improve school safety. Our efforts to keep children safe must also include giving adults the tools they need to protect them.
For these reasons, again, I am in full support of Assembly Bill 1432. Thank you.