Legislation moving forward for increased school sexual abuse reporting measures
HARTFORD–The legislature is trying to increase penalties on schools and administrators who don’t properly report abuse.
The Judiciary Committee approved legislation to reform state laws protecting kids from sexual abuse in schools.
Rep. William Tong (D-Stamford, Darien) introduced the legislation and said it was a important to be the first bill approved by the committee during his tenure as chairman.
“By giving this bill my highest priority, I wanted to send the strongest message we possibly can – that the failure to report child abuse in our schools is not only wrong and a violation of duty, it is a criminal act punishable as a felony under our laws, which can carry significant jail time and heavy fines,” Tong said.
Here are some aspects of the new bill:
- The penalty for an administrator or supervisor in a school who becomes aware of allegations of child abuse but doesn’t report it has been upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony. The original charge carried a maximum one-year sentence and or up to a $2,000 fine, while the new charge has a maximum of three years in prison and a fine of up to $3,500.
- Based on a law passed in 2013, if someone intentionally interferes with or prevents another person from reporting suspected child abuse or neglect it will be considered a felony with up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
- Require teachers to attend DCF training on mandatory reporting and to attend refresher courses in order to maintain a teacher certification.
- Any person who is considered a mandatory reporter–or must by law report any suspected child abuse–would not be able to keep their job or get the job back if found guilty of not reporting abuse.
- Require principals to verify with the school district that all training has been completed. The district would then have to verify with the Department of Education that all schools have been properly trained. Districts who don’t comply would face a fine of $25,000. Fines would be used by DCF to investigate child abuse.
- It re-enforces the mandatory process for investigating child abuse by making DCF and school districts responsible. Distrcits must have a rapid response team that coordinates with DCF to ensure prompt reporting of alleged abuse and ensure DCF has access to witnesses. It also ensures DCF and the state’s multi-disicplinary team investigating reports takes quick action to address all reports of child abuse.