|Policies and Procedures Handbook|
Last Updated: 4/19/2005
Garrett County Public Schools
40 South Second Street
Oakland, MD 21550
PROCEDURE FOR DSS INVESTIGATION OF POSSIBLE
CHILD ABUSE AND/OR NEGLECT
Validation of suspected child abuse is the responsibility of the Department of Social Services, assisted by the police. School personnel shall not attempt to conduct any internal investigation or independent review of the facts.
School personnel shall cooperate with Protective Services Workers when investigating reports of child abuse/neglect/mental injury and/or following up on open cases of abuse/neglect/mental injury.
Generally, when investigating reports of neglect, Protective Services will not interview the student while in school. However, if the Protective Services Worker feels that questioning on school grounds is necessary, he/she will explain the reason to the principal. The Protective Services Worker normally will speak with the referring source regarding neglect cases referred by school personnel.
The Protective Services Worker may seek information from the school regarding any investigation of neglect and/or any open case. This will be done in writing (Form PS 16) and will include parent permission (PS 1).
The principal shall determine, after consultation with the individual from the local Department of Social Services or the police officer, whether a school official shall be present during the questioning of a pupil pursuant to this section.
Validation of suspected child abuse is the responsibility of the Department of Social Services, assisted by the police. School personnel shall not attempt to conduct an internal investigation or an independent review of the facts. The Protective Services Worker and/or Law Enforcement Personnel will be permitted to interview students on school grounds when investigating an allegation of abuse or follow-up on an "open case" of abuse.
A school employee may briefly question a child to determine if there is reason to believe that the child's injuries results from physical or sexual abuse, or by the child's caretaker and/or household member (e.g., What happened to you? How did this happen?). However, in no case should the child be subjected to undue pressure in order to validate the suspicion of abuse and/or neglect. Any doubt about reporting a suspected situation is to be resolved in favor of protecting the child and the report made immediately.
Third Party Presence During Questioning
In the event that a child is questioned by the Protective Services Worker and/or police officer during the school day on school premises in an investigation of either child abuse and/or neglect, whether the child is the alleged victim or nonvictim witness, "the superintendent or the superintendent's designated representative shall determine after consultation with the individual from the local Department of Social Services or the police officer whether a school official shall be present during the questioning of a pupil". The school official should be selected on a case basis for the purpose of providing support and comfort to the student who will be questioned. The regulations express a preference for having a third party present during questioning except in circumstances where the superintendent or the superintendent's designee, in consultation with the Protective Services Worker, determine that a third party should not be present during the interview. This may occur, for example, where the presence of a third party may inhibit the child's responses.
Source: Education COMAR 13A.03.01.13
Multidisciplinary Team Meetings
The local Department of Social Services shall notify school reporting sources of the receipt of the report. The principal and/or Pupil Personnel Worker may request the local Department of Social Services to call a multidisciplinary team meeting (Kids We Care About Meeting) to share information and concerns to the extent permitted by the confidentiality statute and to coordinate planning for services to the child.
Although the regulations express a preference for parental notification, the school principal or the principal's designee is not required to notify parents or guardians of investigations on school premises involving suspected child abuse or neglect. The principal, in consultation with the Protective Services Caseworker, may decide whether the parents should be informed of the investigative questioning. It may be determined, for example, that disclosure to the parents would create a threat to the well-being of the child.
Source: Education COMAR 13A.08.01.13D
Emergency Medical Treatment
In the event that a child is in need of emergency medical treatment as a result of suspected abuse or neglect, the school principal, in collaboration with the school nurse or other health professional when available, shall arrange for the child to be taken immediately to the nearest hospital. The Protective Services Worker or law enforcement officer should be consulted before taking the child to the hospital when feasible; in cases where the emergency conditions prevent such consultation, the Protective Services Worker should be notified as soon thereafter as possible. In all other instances, it is the role of the Protective Services Worker and/or law enforcement officer to seek medical treatment for the child.
Information contained in school health records needed during the existence of a health and safety emergency may be disclosed without parental consent and without violating the provisions of Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974.
Educators are required to provide copies of a child's medical/health records information, upon request to the local Department of Social Services as needed as part of a child abuse/neglect investigation or to provide appropriate services in the best interest of the child who is the subject of a report of child abuse or neglect.
Source: Family Law Article 5-709, 5-711, 5-712 Health General Article 4-306
Removal of Child from School Premises
The child may be removed from the school premises by a Protective Services Worker or police officer only if
1. Local social services has guardianship of the child;
2. Local social services has a shelter order or a court order to remove the child. (Verification of shelter care order by school personnel can be made by calling the local juvenile justice agency intake officer.) A joint decision by the principal and the Protective Services Worker should be made regarding who will notify the parents of the action to remove the child from school. Usually this notification will occur as part of the social worker's initial family visit, or as part of the contact made to arrange the initial family interview. However, in the absence of a joint decision, the Director of Pupil Services or the Pupil Personnel Worker shall insure that prompt notification of removal from school is made to the pupil's parent or guardian.
Source: Family Law Article 5-709, 5-710, 5-712 Education COMAR 13A.08.01.13E
Parents should be advised of the legal responsibility of school staff to report suspected cases of abuse and/or neglect. Schools may use the attached pamphlet entitled "Child Abuse and Neglect Our Mandate" to notify parents at the beginning of the school year. This could be accomplished by sending home a copy to each student's parent(s), by including such notification in the school newsletter, or by any means found appropriate by the school principal.
Annual training sessions should be provided to all school employees on child abuse/neglect policies and procedures, symptoms, programs and services.
Table of Contents
Pupil Services 474.232 WWM
Revised 3/8/90, 2/9/99