All staff are legally responsible for reporting all suspected cases of child abuse, neglect or exploitation to the proper authorities and/or an appropriate administrator. Under state law, staff are free from liability for reporting a reasonable suspicion of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation. However, failing to report the incident may result in criminal liability regardless of whether the authorities determine the incident is provable in a subsequent legal proceeding.
Staff are not required to verify a report that a child has been abused, neglected, or exploited. Any conditions or information that may be reasonable related to child abuse, neglect or exploitation should be reported. Legal authorities have the responsibility for investigating each case and taking appropriate action under the circumstances.
For the purposes of this policy, the term “child” means anyone under the age of 18 and/or any current student of the district, including home-schooled students or any other person classified as a student in the district’s database.
Child abuse, neglect, or exploitation means:
A. Inflicting physical injury on a child by other than accidental means, causing death, disfigurement, skin bruising, impairment of physical or emotional health, or loss or impairment of any bodily function;
B. Creating a substantial risk of physical harm to a child’s bodily functioning;
C. Attempting, committing, or allowing any sexual offense against a child as defined in the criminal code. This definition also includes any communications with a child for immoral purposes, or viewing, possessing, or distributing any sexually explicit images of a child. It also includes intentionally contacting, either directly or through the clothing, the genitals, anus or breasts of a child unless the contact is necessary for the child’s hygiene or health care. This also includes a child’s intentional or coerced contact with anyone’s genitals, anus, or breasts;
D. Committing acts that are cruel or inhumane regardless of observable injury. Such acts may include, but are not limited to, instances of extreme discipline demonstrating a disregard of a child’s pain or mental suffering;
E. Assaulting or criminally mistreating a child as defined by the criminal code;
F. Failing to provide food, shelter, clothing, supervision or health care necessary to a child’s health or safety;
G. Engaging in actions or omissions resulting in a substantial risk to the physical or mental health or development of a child;
H. Failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the occurrence of the preceding actions.
Children (including other students), family members, and any other adult can engage in child abuse, neglect, or exploitation. This can include incidents of student on student misconduct. Staff should report all incidents of abuse regardless of the age of the person who engages in it.
Staff should not focus on a person’s mental status to determine if he or she has committed child abuse, neglect, or exploitation. The law governing mandated reporting does not allow for exceptions for people with medical conditions that may mitigate the intent for committing child abuse, neglect or exploitation.
If a Law Enforcement or Child Protective Services official is investigating an allegation of abuse or neglect of a student, the school should make the student available to the official, upon request. The school should contact parents at the earliest possible time. The building administrator, however, should consult with the official before contacting the parents regarding the investigation to ensure that such contact will not adversely impact the investigation. The building administrator should follow the official’s recommendations regarding contacting the parents.
The superintendent or designee shall develop reporting procedures for all staff in order to help them identify and report all evidence of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation as soon as possible to the proper authorities. Staff shall receive training regarding reporting obligations during their initial orientation and every three years after initial employment.
Relations with the Law Enforcement and Child Protective Agencies - Policy 4411
Confidential Communications - Policy 4020
Child Abuse - Definitions - RCW 26.44.020
Reports - Duty and authority to make - RCW 26.44.030
Reports – Oral, Written – Contents - RCW 26.44.040
Immunity from civil or criminal liability – Confidential communications not violated – Action against state not affected – False report, penalty - RCW 26.44.060
Violation – penalty - RCW 26.44.080
Physical abuse or sexual misconduct by school employees – Duty to report – Training - RCW 28A.400.317
Definition of child abuse, neglect or exploitation - WAC 388-15-009
Policy News - June 2015
Policy News - February 2007
Highline School District 401
Adopted by the Board: August 28, 1985
Revised by the Board: 8.09; 5.11; 7.11; 10.15