Child abuse reporting failures in schools: a matter of policy?

In a recent story, Mercury News reporters Julia Prodis Sulek and Sharon Noguchi asked why some school personnel don’t report complaints of child abuse, especially when they involve a colleague. Here’s the crux of their report:

From Moraga to Palo Alto to San Jose, child sex abuse cases in schools and day care centers have surfaced alleging that school employees entrusted with the safety of students failed to do what their oaths and the law required: report to police or child protective services when they have a reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused.

Child advocates blame a lack of courage and a lack of training.

“It’s not so much about protecting people, but not having the leadership ability to step up,” said Margaret Petros, a commissioner on the Santa Clara County Child Abuse Council. “People in general want to get along and not rock the boat.”

Their piece followed the latest developments in the Jerry Sandusky scandal and apparent cover-up at Penn State; it also came in the wake of a series of investigative reports by Bay Area News Group staffers Matthias Gafni and Malaika Fraley that uncovered another dark story (stories, really) that happened at a school much closer to home, at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in the sleepy town of Moraga. You should really read their work, if you haven’t.

Today, Congressman George Miller announced he was asking the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to examine the effectiveness of current laws and policies on child abuse reporting. He released the letter he had sent to the head of the agency, requesting the inquiry. It began:

The child sexual abuse scandal at The Pennsylvania State University, other recent incidents of child abuse and findings contained within the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) prior work for the Committee on Education and the Workforce have raised a number of concerns about whether we have adequate laws and policies in place to prevent and address abuse of children in schools.

Miller wants the agency to find out the procedures in place at schools and universities and how they handle allegations that school staff engaged in child abuse, and how parents are notified when there has been an allegation or investigation of abuse; what laws and regulations states have in place for such complaints; what policies universities have to protect children on campus who aren’t students, but who are participating in on-campus activities.

Based on your experience, are human failings — fear, loyalty to peers, denial — at the root of the problem, where it exists, or is it a matter of clarifying policies and strengthening laws? Or both? Which policies would make a difference?

Miller calls for inquiry into child abuse reporting policy

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Student Teacher

    Katy: The law says that as a teacher I am required to report directly to the Child Protective Services. I sign an oath and I am ultimately responsible. HOWEVER, in teacher credential programs and in Oakland Unified, teachers are told to report the incidents to their principal and document, document, document the date, time, circumstances, and place you were when you reported the incident. You must them document exactly what you told your principal and exactly why you thought it was reportable. You may follow up with the principal. All of this documentation is to “protect” me. The law says I can be prosecuted for not reporting directly, however in Oakland Unified I am in deep, deep trouble for reporting on my own. I have committed insubordination for not following protocol. I have broken the law by not reporting directly when I am suspicious.

    Personally, I have reported confidentially and documented everything I did. I did this after the principal at my student teaching assignment said that my suspicions in the reported abuse to her were “groundless.” Because I reported anonymously I was unable to find out the result. However, the student was not in school several days and then was living with a relative when she arrived back at school.

    I understand why principals must know when suspicions are reported, but I completely disagree that teachers should report the incidents to the principal who will then decide on whether or not they should be reported.

  • Nextset

    I previously cited the example of a school nurse taking a rescue inhaler from a child stricken with an asthma attack claiming that the inhaler was not properly permitted by the school – no parent’s note or something – despite the Drs Rx on the inhaler and the Child’s name. She would see the child die (and commit murder herself) rather than not go along with a Zero Tolerance for drugs on campus policy. I don’t believe this is exactly an abberation either.

    So what do you think public school staff – up to University level – will do to protect a child who isn’t even their direct charge – like the child rape victims of Penn State? And then a child in their charge – like the poor kid with the asthma attack or any other potentially lethal condition?

    They will let the child suffer, sicken and die. then they will cover up all that they have done and not done. That’s what you can expect from these government schools. There are very good reasons for the behavior – good in terms of organizational behavior research.

    And if the child happens to be black or brown – well, they have short expiration dates anyway. And besides they are sexually active all the time and if you say anything about it your are being racist by trying to make them adopt white norms. There is no shortage of rationalization to look the other way with these victims.

    You have to understand – I’ve tried to explain this over and over. The children in question are LOW STATUS people. You can screw them over and it doesn’t matter. Contrast with if the child in question is Tony Soprano’s daughter (and you don’t tell Tony). Or maybe if the child was the child or grandchild of powerful people of any stripe and you didn’t warn them of the threat or act to protect the child. We don’t have to think very much because it’s hard to imagine anyone sane who would not do their duty to protect such a child. They know very will what would happen to them should they later be thought to have been negligent in their duty to protect that child.

    So Ken and Barbie get taken care of and Otis and Latifah are on their own as usual. Or is it that Ken and Barbie are not enrolled in bad schools that are schools in name only…

    Child abuse reporting is full of murky and grey areas the experience I have is that reporting is mightly resisted (unless you are dealing with high status kids in which case they error on the side of caution and not getting punished mightily should they fail to protect the valuable child). Unless the non-reporters and jailed/punished and those that threaten them for reporting (ie the administration) are quickly and publicly jailed/punished you cannot reasonably expect reporting to occur. It will occur as the exception – not the routine.

    I’m not saying the school staff will never report. If the child asks for it, if the parent asks for it, if the injury is gross, if they are ordered to report by their immediate superior, etc.. maybe they’ll get around to a report – eventually.

    As far as Penn State, if they are serious about dealing with what happened, which they are not – they’ll remove any trace of the disgraced Paterno from Campus and shut down the football program and fire/layoff absolutely everybody involved with it including all the janitors, secretaries, coaches, everybody. See if that ever happens. They’re not sorry except for getting caught and their experience is that if they stonewall it eventually everything will go back to normal.

    When I was in college I was being trained in Banking – a college part time job. I spent some time working on putting out fires with a Senior Executive of the bank who was hired to douse fires. We had a problem in one of the branches. There was stealing going on. I remember the lecture. The way you handle something like that is you fire everyone. Either they were in on it or they were negligent for not discovering it and reporting it. So you get rid of them all and start over. That’s why you don’t have this problem often (theft ring operating in a branch).

    Back to child abuse reporting – remember Michael Jackson anyone? Did anyone react to his apparent purchasing of non-related children without benefit of a Superior Court order? His Disneyland Trips with a certain little blond kid? His flying around on private jets with boys (in his target age/appearance) absent parents? The Jackson shenanigans are so extreme and yet hardly anybody wanted to take him on and even when he dangled the kid out the window (this is what unrelated males do with other people’s kids when they get bored sometimes – a bio Dad doesn’t) the public at large refused to see what anyone with any experience in Pedophiles can see.

    Back to the point. We have laws that already cover this problem. We need to enforce the ones we have. We need to support those who do report from the retaliation they will be getting from their employers. Best way to do that is to increase the penalties for interfering with a report to the point of felony and likely or mandatory loss of professional licenses and/or big time civil penalties and attorney fees.

    Making the failure to report or interfering with a report a serious civil liability to the child and their personal injury attorneys will probably fix the problems.

    Oh, and School Police are there to protect the school, not the kids. It’s nice if the kids are protected at the same time, they’d really LIKE to help, but those police are there to protect the school, not the kids. It’s not as if they are going to the kid’s house to see Mommy’s boyfriend about sexing up the kids. Not their job.

  • Seenitbefore

    @Student Teacher

    I agree. I have experienced A LOT of hostility and being labeled a “racist” from OUSD personnel for suggesting to my principals and administrators that some students were displaying signs of abuse.

    I have also called CPS anonymously on several occassions. It is heartbreaking to BEG administration to please intervene and provide services to students who are obviously dealing with something that isn’t quite right at home. Sometimes there are outside agencies providing counseling to a limited number of students. Most often…. we teachers are told that whatever inappropriate behaviors we are noticing…… are the direct result of our lack of ability to teach.

    Sure. THAT’S the problem.

    Some of these kids need a lot more than we (OUSD) are willing, or able, to offer.

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com former oakland teacher

    yes, what #1 says. I sometimes reported child abuse to CPS and was lucky my supervisor never found out because I would have seriously been in trouble. Of course, I could have lost my credential if I didn’t. so what are you supposed to do?

  • Jim Mordecai

    I believe that charter schools are a wonderful opportunity the public provides for a Jerry Sandusky type. There is under California law no qualification, or even the requirement for finger printing and criminal background check, required of a person wanting to start up a charter school.

    Those that on this blog complain that unions protect teachers and want at will employees should consider that an “at will employee” may value loss of his/her job more than reporting suspicions of child abuse if the person they suspect is the person that set up the charter school where they work.

    Jerry Sandusky set up a charity that brought him access to young children. He just could have moved to California and established a charter school and gained as much access or more access to children than he had with his charity in Pennsylvania.

    Basic to the dea of charter schools is deregulation. But concern for protection of children should override an attitude of hear no evil see no evil if test scores are high. A winning football program or high scoring school program shouldn’t be all that needs to be known when youngsters are involved and put in adult care.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    Once again we see public education being used as a *political* institution. In this instance, to stop the “epidemic” of child abuse.

    What’s next? Johnny being told to hide a camera in his parents’ bedroom?

    What is being done to stop the abuse occurring *in* OUSD? How many of you know an OUSD kid who was chronically bullied in school, had (along with parents) officially reported the incidents multiple times, and still virtually nothing was done?

  • Katy Murphy

    I should clarify that the focus of the inquiry Congressman Miller has requested — as well as the stories I linked to — is the reporting of child abuse complaints involving school employees.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Right Katy, the focus of Congressman Miller leaves out the reporting of child abuse complaints by non-school employees. He would include as mandatory reporters charter school board members and founders of charter schools.

    However, I believe Congressman Miller’s focus falls short. I see both non-school charter school employee roles as institutional blind spots that should be included. And, that blind spot also includes leaving out school board members of traditional public schools who get a pass on a legal obligation to report child abuse. Both non-school employees should be included in the law as they have power that would inhibit reporting.

    Of course public education is a political institution. And, the point is well made by Notclair that passing laws has unintended consequence and should be carefully considered. Reporting is part of regulation and has built in opportunity for governmental abuse. Other side of the coin is deregulation presents opportunity for exploitation.

    I perceive current attention of a reporting requirement associated with the institution of schooling falling short in leaving out powerful parts of institution of schooling that are not school employees.

    Mandatory reporting should not leave behind charter school founders and charter school school governing boards as well as traditional school board members because regulation is a slippery slope.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    Once again we see unconstitutional federal involvement in public education.

    If the Congressman would only concern himself with abuse that occurs in public schools located on US domestic military bases, I might be able to live with his election year interest.

    But let’s keep some sense of proportion here. The real abuse is the large number of public school kids who are underserved and even ruined for life by very mediocre (to put it mildly) public schools.

  • Nextset

    Nontcair really has a point here. You cannot reasonably expect any system whether it be Penn State or OUSD to care about children when they themselves are abusing the children with their “educational” program.

    Putting people with an IQ of 85 and less into an Algebra class, which they flunk, then forcing the same students to take that class every year (and flunk) until they drop out or age out of the “school” is abuse. It is no defense that the “school” says they did it because they believed it was “required” by the state.

    I can go on with other such examples of miss-matching children and programs. Mixing rival Mexican gangs on a school campus? Turning a blind eye toward bullying of white students or black students “acting white”. You get the idea. There are so many instances of institutional child abuse going on in our public schools that it’s silly to get worked up on the refusal of staff to to Child Abuse reports because the 13 year old girl is being dropped off at school by her 25 year old live in boyfriend (and is bragging about the relationship). And by the way, that’s pretty common in certain ethnics. The girl’s parent is in on it, maybe the mother of the girl is sleeping with him too.

    No these things are not getting reported. If staff tries to report they will be laughed at and punished by admin. And then it’s considered “racist” to impose white values on the chillun.

    So reporting is limited: to child-requested reports, to gross injury (not pregnancy), to parent requested reporting (usually against other parent and their friends).

    And who’s complaining about that anyway?

    If we want the schools to do differently we need to close them down and re-open under new management with a new program. This is Called the Charter School Movement.

    And Jim Mordecai is very right about the Sandusky Charter Middle School. Or should I say the Michael Jackson White Boy Academy. Or the Black Panther PreSchool. There is a danger that Charters with the anything goes atmosphere can become a cult school. But at least that would be a voluntary victimization school as opposed to the detention centers the Urban Schools are running. Even now the public schools send men with guns to arrest fleeing children and drag them back to the internment centers. Unless the kiddies are smart enough to enroll in an online charter school and get safely off the books of the local detainment center.

    I once knew some students who did exactly that. They enrolled in online high schools to flee the local detainment center (school district). They claimed they were being bullied. The truth was they were getting too much heat for the adult boyfriends they were reportedly making whoopie with. They were smart enough to get what they wanted and keep their adult lovers.

    Your child abuse is somebody else’s “freedom” sometimes. No wonder the poor teachers are conflicted.

  • Nextset

    A PS: In the better years of the 1950s and 1960s a sexually active 13 year old girl- or even a 15 year old girl – was called a “wayward girl” and treated like a criminal. There was no pretense whatsoever that such conduct would be tolerated or that the bad girl would be permitted to sit with normal children. They even had their own jails called a Home for Wayward Girls. Promiscuity in children (as opposed to adults) wasn’t tolerated regardless of race. and that was made pretty clear to the kiddies. Sex still happened but it wasn’t done in the streets in front of the horses like now.

    I rather think that a kid back then who came to school with evidence of a severe beating would be held in the office while the local police were called in. All in all there was a time, not that long ago, when the schools did value their students individually and would not ignore trouble.

    We were not running schools for untouchables. Back then the black and brown students were made members of society even if they were likely to become service workers – or union workers (thus providing stability & upward mobility for their kids).

    The only reason we are having this discussion is that nowadays in the Brave New World children are devalued based on their perceived Caste and our refusal to try to move people out of their lower Caste (which would make them unhappy and create problems for the Caste, if not destroy it). Things are going to continue to deteriorate and not improve as long as we persist in not disrupting lower Caste Societies.

    But understand, Disrupting lower Castes by training their kids to be better can result in the child being rejected by it’s original Caste or worse. Maybe this is why our public schools thought they should reinforce Castes and not disrupt them with real education and better mores.

  • Nontcair

    There are a few large political institutions (like the three branches) that we’re stuck with.

    I get upset when what should be a small (even non-existent) political institution — teaching self-motivated, resident poor kids how to read — explodes into the bureaucratic behemoth we now know as public education.

    This anti- child abuse initiative is just another example of the sort of public education mission creep which has taken the schools to the desparate situation they find themselves in today.

  • Nextset

    Funny thing about the “Wayward Girl” prosecutions and internments – Some of them ended up doing pretty well. Like Ella Fitzgerald:


    There are other famous “wayward” girls. Now if this were today such girls would find themselves put on the streets to earn or beaten up by their lovers (who devalue them because they are so cheap and available) or strung out on crack or living on welfare with a half dozen unwanted criminally inclined kids. I have seen that a lot.

    The old system of getting them out of town into their own treatment facilities where they were taught to behave and learn a trade does pay off. Too bad we don’t bother with them any more. We just let them lie down in the gutter, procreate and get used.

    Brave New World

  • Student Teacher

    Nontcair: I would not care whether or not I am legally required to report child abuse.

    However, when I, as a citizen see bruises, welts, cigarette burns, dried blood and so on on a child I want the legal RIGHT to report without the interference of a principal or a school distict administrator. I should not have to worry about not having a job because I chose to report a crime.

  • Nextset

    CA Penal Code §11166 is the duty to report child abuse. Section 11166.01 is the punishment for failure to report. It appears the legislature has buried the prohibition against punishing reporters. It is there but you have to look for it.

    Paragraph (i)1 of §11166 includes “…no person making a report shall be subject to any sanction for making the report.” The punishment section for this law, §11166.01(a) reads “…any supervisor or administrator who violates paragraph (1) of subdivision (i) of Section 11166 shall be punished by…” and then goes on to indicate a low grade misdemeanor.

    So it is a crime to retaliate against an employee for a required report. Good luck getting a street cop to find, interpret and apply this code section. The legislature deliberately made it obtuse. It would have been too easy to simply proscribe retaliation in plain English and put it in it’s own subsection and maybe make it a higher grade misdemeanor if not a wobbler.

    You see, the crime of “Twisting” in California (Insurance Code §781) is considered so terrible it is punished by a whole year in jail and a fine:


    But try and stop reporting that a kid was raped, and punish the whistle blowers – only face a mickey mouse misdemeanor.

    Note that the person who was supposed to report does face a whole year in jail (meaning no more than a month in actual time and maybe a week or two due to jail overcrowding).

    What a joke.

    Teachers are not dumb. They know full well what the issues are when handling low status students. They know what is really expected of them and they know to protect themselves above all else.

    If the legislature really wanted to stop these problems, believe me they would draft different legislation.

    But I think Tony Soprano’s daughter is pretty safe anyway. So are Ken and Barbie for the most part.

    Brave New World.

  • Nextset

    PS: If the legislature really wanted to stop interference and retaliation against mandated reporters – which they don’t – they would create a specific statute for it and declare a violation to be a crime of moral turpitude (that is a deadly threat to occupational licenses). Then they’d declare it a wobbler at least so it could be investigated and arrested (and possibly convicted) as a felony. Bye Bye teaching credential.

    Then you would not see interference or retaliation.

    Don’t hold your breath. The ruling party in the legislature is too busy taking campaign contributions and writing private legislation.

  • Nextset

    Another PS: Doctors and Nurses are threatened and retaliated against in these cases also. Now that medicine is going to be Soviet Style, don’t think any of the medical profession will be allowed to do what’s right and needed – ever. They are quickly being reduced to mere employees of a concealed master.

    Brave New World!

  • Nextset

    Another way an employer such as a hospital or a school can make problems for reporters is to refuse to pay them when they are called to testify about what happened (ie use their vacation time, etc, or just dock their pay).

  • Jim Mordecai


    A smart employer is not going to refuse to pay because the employer interest is to contain damage of such a highly charged subject as child abuse. A refusal to pay likely brings the union into what the employer wants to keep away from becoming a union issue.

    But, in previous postings you answered the original question that the failure of preventing child abuse is not just policy but failure is in part because the law is weak in punish of mandatory reporters and also weak in protecting those that do report a reality that may well inhibit reporting.

    I agree that the law can be strengthened and should be strengthened to at least be what you labeled a wobblier and allow the possibility of being a felony.

    But, I also think the scope of the law’s definition of mandatory reporter should be expanded in education to include not just employees, but school board members, and governing board members of charter schools, because the power these non-employees have is a power to influence firing and surely such power could influence and inhibit reporting of child abuse.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    Jim Mordecai: I’m probably mixing school policy with medical facility policy. Medical facilities are shifting to hourly temp and contract workers and are not inclined to pay for out of facility appearances required because of what happened in the workplace. Also those workers can have no union or a weak union and the employer rightfully believes they can get away with all kinds of abuse.

    Private schools and charter schools set the stage for the same kind of thought. I believe labor laws would require the employer to pay for these appearances – but for clarity’s sake I would like the legislature (if they can look up from re-election planning long enough) to include a provision in the reporting law anti-retaliation provisions that time and expenses of related testimony following the reports or of witnessing an incident at work are in fact a cost to the employer (at the employee’s normal pay rates) and never the employee.

    This does have the effect of making the school or medical facility pay not only for the normal overhead of running their school or medical facility but also the ancillary court related time of their workers. And it’s not like they can bill that to the insurance company – it comes out of the bottom line of the facility and it can be real money.

    Oh – a Wobbler is a crime that can be a felony or a misdemeanor. Like Manslaughter, or 4th time DUI. It becomes one or the other at the discretion of first the police, then the DA (who can overrule the police in either direction), then the judge can overrule the DA and reduce the crime but not raise it. A Wobblette is a crime than can be either a misdemeanor or an infraction (like disturbing the peace) at the option of the Police then the DA.

    Wobblers are also important in that search warrants may not be issued to look for evidence of a misdemeanor – they are for evidence of a felony. (You can do a search warrant for the instrument of a misdemeanor. Good luck with that.) So when the legislature makes something a misdemeanor they are signaling not to investigate using the normal tools of crime investigation. Also Misdemeanor arrest warrants may normally not be served at night and felonies can always be served at night. As California collapses misdemeanor crimes are no longer in many cases taken seriously (ie cops refuse to serve the warrants, jails refuse to keep the prisoners, etc.).

    I note that the interfering of reporting and retaliation is considered a lesser crime than the failure to report itself even thought the interfering is done by one with the greater power and ability to affect other people. This is bad legislation. It’s a truism of law that crimes become worse when done in concert with others and done with cover-ups. I believe a Wobbler treatment for interfering and retaliating is simple common sense. It will still normally get reduced to a misdemeanor somewhere in the process anyway – but it can start higher and get the more serious investigative treatment. You will need it.

    Adding the power structure of the schools to the required reporting list makes sense.

    This all presupposes anyone really wants child abuse reported in the first place or can agree on what is really “abuse” – and if there are to be different standards and definitions depending on the race, age and social status of the “child”.

    You get tired of reporting when a notoriously promiscuous “child” drops a mention of making whoopie which yet another 25 year old male.

  • Nextset

    Another issue: Penal Code §11165.1 Defines sexual abuse. There is no out for mutual sex play or masturbation between children, much less intercourse.

    If you light a fire under the mandated reporters it’s increasingly likely (suspected) mutual sex play short of intercourse could get reported. Especially when you have reporters who are looking to get attention.

    I remember one case where a homophobic parent set off a firestorm by calling the police because his adolescent male had a one-time minor encounter with a peer male friend. There were police interrogations, I believe an arrest and court proceedings which led to the whole thing being dismissed. The complaining father wanted sex registration for the other peer and claimed it as a matter of right. Following that that there was civil litigation. The whole thing sounded like some 1950s movie.

    If we build up the required reporting you create the opportunity for all kinds of crazy to occur – the law does not distinguish between any peer to peer activity at all, as opposed to the Mommy’s Boyfriend and other cases you really worry about. Not that I’m pulling for teen sex activity. But let’s be real.

  • Nontcair

    Why do so many public education supporters call for more school regulations?

    The education code is large enough already.
    We already have laws against child abuse (battery).
    Civilians already have an ethical duty to fight crime.

    More public education regulations means hiring more school district:

    ombudsmen to take reports
    staff to fill out forms
    investigators to verify claims
    consultants to seek out federal grants
    lawyers to ensure compliance

    on and on and on.

    Then many of those same supporters complain that the school districts employ too many non-teachers.

  • Observer

    I’m not really sure why anyone in Oakland would want notoriety when reporting to CPS anyway. As much of this town’s citizenry is armed to the tilt, seems a better way to go is to report anonymously. Perhaps that’s why administrators are adamant about this–fear of retaliation?

    I anonymously reported child abuse to CPS on behalf of a child in Berkeley. She was in private school. I was given a case number and told to call back and check on the case, which I did. I also, because I knew a parent at the school, was able to find out that CPS came to the school, pulled the child out of class and interviewed her. Unfortunately that parent packed her up and fled which would have happened no matter how it was reported. At least it was documented.

  • Nextset

    Nontcair: Civilians generally have no duty to fight crime or report it in California.

    Other states have legislated such duties, CA and much of the west never did because out here there is a premium on being left alone. You are perfectly free to watch a stranger woman being beaten by her boyfriend while you finish lunch. Many would say that’s the smart thing to do – stay out of it. Because she will/may shoot you in the back if you move on her lover. And if the two of them and their friends start stalking you unlike Florida you may not freely carry a concealed and loaded handgun as you move about in public to protect yourself.

    Since the Federal Government is moving the Mexican Cartels into CA one would do well to stay out of their sight. Then we have all the other gangs the government supports with welfare policy and lax criminal justice. There’s even a ballot measure to abolish the already unenforced death penalty in CA – just another signal to the Cartels that all violence against “law abiding” is welcome in CA. Criminal penalties end when you are already at a prison term exceeding life expectancy – so go get the chain saws, there’s little reason not to go hyper-violent on victims and witnesses.

    Back to child abuse. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Teach the kid how to communicate, how to call 911 (I remember telling a kid to just drop the phone and let the dispatcher hear the fight – and leave), how to testify, how to cause accidents, the list goes on. Gun programs and combat training are good skills to be teaching in public schools. I took a gun course at the Local Jr College – a 10 hour course with a PC 832 certificate.

    I remember one kid who destroyed his parents at age 14 by telling the cops what they were up to and where everything was kept. All the children were put in foster care permanently, never returned. Mommy and Daddy lost their occupational licenses and were jailed. Maybe they should have been nicer to the kid.

    Child abuse reporting is just one thing a good school does to teach the kids how to grow up strong. Teaching them that they are younger and (have opportunity to be) better than their parents is important. Also teaching them wrong and right. Especially when teaching low caste children.

    This is America, they really do have a choice. ask the immigrants.

  • Student Teacher

    Nontcair: I agree with you that we do not people employed by the district to review claims. Teachers should report, period. The district needs to educate students and keep their noses out of what must legally be done.

    Observer: I chose not to get a number so that the report could not be traced to me. I was specifically told not to report. In Oakland, teachers are told to report only to the principal and the principal will report “as appropriate”. Teaching credential programs also state that the principal should be told and the teacher should continue to follow up with the principal.

    We need to get back to educating students at school.

    Tony Smith would like to see the clinics on campus. In my estimation this is not the role of education but another way to create more bureaucracy and a larger school department. Unfortunately it is also a way to have more and more abused children slip through the cracks.

    I overheard a contract social worker who works for OUSD that there is a lot of money in health care facilities at school sites. It has more money than curriculum, testing and facilities. She plans on working on these clinics until she retires – she is now about 50.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Mandated reporter in Oakland is required to report to child protective services.

    This was taken from on line source:

    To Whom Do You Report?

    The report must be made to a
    county welfare department or
    probation department (if designated
    by the county to receive mandated
    reports) or a police or sheriff’s
    department, not including a school
    district police or security department.
    (P.C. 11165.9)

    The above makes clear that you don’t report suspected child abuse to your principal.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    In my 30 years teaching in Oakland I have never had an administrator tell me not to report suspected child abuse to CPS. If they had, I would have done it anyway. We are adults here. You make decisions based upon what you are compelled to do morally, I hope. I do not document….CPS does. I report. You are morally and legally compelled to report any SUSPICION of child abuse. CPS determines the validity of that suspicion, not you, not your principal, not anyone but CPS.
    And Jim, SO TRUE, on all your comments.

  • Nextset

    Lisa Capuano Oler:

    You seem to actually trust CPS. Does that actually work for you?

    I’d prefer to make reports of serious danger to the police by phone to dispatch, they would in good times and in good cities send an officer to check out the situation and take a report. Their report would be routed to CPS and to detectives.

    Nowadays in bad cities Uniformed officers may no longer be available. CPS is better than nothing I suppose. They have their uses. For serious trouble I don’t consider social workers to be an acceptable substitute for peace officers.

    One of my working definitions for “serious trouble” is a felony in progress or a situation where a felony arrest is expected.

    Example = Mommy’s boyfriend is smoking pot and walking around naked a lot – CPS. Mommy’s boyfriend is doing oral cop on the kids – Call 911.

    It would probably help if the school teachers had a working knowledge of the Penal Code. It would also help if the school kids had a working knowledge of the Penal Code.

  • Nextset

    Jim Mordecai: Re: post 26

    School districts can and do require employees to report to them various things including beaten and raped students, etc. This would be enforced regardless of additional state requirements on abuse reporting. Those staff who failed could be punished up to and including termination.

    There is nothing in the state code to interfere with the basic ability of the district to make the employees accountable to them for reporting to the employer what they see and hear.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Maybe I am overlooking a Board policy but the following does not requiring reporting to the District:

    Board Policy

    BP 5141.4 – Child Abuse Reporting Procedures

    The Governing Board recognizes that the district has a responsibility to protect students by facilitating the prompt reporting of known and suspected incidents of child abuse and neglect. The Superintendent or designee shall establish procedures for the identification and reporting of such incidents in accordance with law.

    (cf. 5141.41 – Child Abuse Prevention)
    (cf. 5142 – Safety)

    Employees who are mandated reporters, as defined by law and district administrative regulation, are obligated to report all known or suspected incidents of child abuse and neglect. Mandated reporters shall not investigate any suspected incidents but rather shall cooperate with agencies responsible for reporting, investigating and prosecuting cases of child abuse and neglect.

    The Superintendent or designee shall provide training regarding the reporting duties of mandated reporters.

    (cf. 4131 – Staff Development)
    (cf. 4231 – Staff Development)
    (cf. 4331 – Staff Development)

    In the event that training is not provided to mandated reporters, the Superintendent or designee shall report to the California Department of Education the reasons that such training is not provided. (Penal Code 11165.7)

    Parents/guardians may contact the Superintendent or designee to obtain procedures for filing a complaint against a district employee or other person whom they suspect has engaged in abuse of a child at a school site.

    (cf. 1312.1 – Complaints Concerning District Employees)

    Legal Reference:
    33308.1 Guidelines on procedure for filing child abuse complaints
    44690-44691 Staff development in the detection of child abuse and neglect
    48906 Notification when student released to peace officer
    48987 Dissemination of reporting guidelines to parents

    152.3 Duty to report murder, rape or lewd or lascivious act
    273a Willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment of child; endangering life or health
    288 Definition of lewd or lascivious act requiring reporting
    11164-11174.3 Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act

    15630-15637 Dependent adult abuse reporting

    4650 Filing complaints with CDE, special education students

    Management Resources:

    0514.93 Guidelines for parents to report suspected child abuse by school district employees or other persons against a pupil at school site

    CDE: http://www.cde.ca.gov
    School/Law Enforcement Partnership: http://www.cde.ca.gov/spbranch/safety/partnership.html
    California Attorney General: http://caag.state.ca.us
    California Department of Social Services: http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov
    Governor’s Office of Criminal Justice Planning: http://www.ocjp.ca.gov


    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    Jim Mordecai: And you suppose all such things are put in writing? Even so, look for general rules about keeping admin informed of significant incidents on campus.

  • Jim Mordecai


    You are right there is policy and unwritten policy. Added to that is the complexity that often administrators in my experience–as a teacher at a school site–the school site administrator doesn’t know (often doesn’t care to know) the written policy. If a policy issue arises and an administrator is told they are not following policy he/she will call downtown to fact check. Otherwise following policy is not an issue as just getting through the challenges of a day at a school site is enough for most administrators.

    What this means in practice is site and downtown administrators may think they know the policy and convey the message to report suspected abuse to both CPS and the site administrator. Or, they don’t know policy. But, principals know that site principals are expendable to protect the institution. Therefore, principals naturally want to be in control of the situation to protect themselves first, and the institution, second.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Brenda

    Yes, I have had a special needs pre-school child, that has been bullied in school and on the school bus. My child is now suffering from Post traumatic stress syndrome, do to an alleged sexual molestation by the teacher. This incident has been reported multiple times and NOTHING has been done. What are we as parents to do?

  • Observer


    Call the police. Actually, no. Go into the police station and demand to speak to an investigator from the sex crimes unit. If you get the run around, stay put and keep demanding. Bring any documentation you have-Names, dates, addresses, recollections, possible witnesses.

  • Nontcair

    Call the police, but before you do that, pull your kid out of school.

    A young, special-ed kid is worth a small fortune in state funding (over the decade+ span of his enrollment) to the district. The schools won’t care about him until his state funding gets cut off.

  • Nextset

    Brenda, is it possible the claim of sex assault from by a teacher has no credibility?

    I have seen plenty of sex assault claims that were pure garbage. Even if they were true they were not provable at all. The complaining witness had no credibility and there was no supporting evidence at all.

    And remember – people lie – a lot, nowadays. And they exaggerate. And they go about in public and private drunk and high – so you can’t believe anything they say. Even worse, some of the people I’m thinking about have such a history of lying (and admitting lying) about this sort of thing that you can’t get anywhere on their later stories even if they may have a point for once. Boy who cried wolf, and all..

    So I know nothing about your pre-school child – but – is it possible the investigation failed to give credence to the complaint?

  • Nextset

    I was in court once for a moment when a witness on the stand swore up and down he was raped in that courthouse by a judge – in judges’ chambers. The interesting point was he was pretty lucid up to that statement other than his fantasies about his biography which those who’d worked with him actually knew the truth about. Those listening to him talk were believing all the BS he was saying – they didn’t know better – until he got to that nugget about getting raped. It was a fixed delusion he’d told others before. As one psych expert testified about it – that he (expert) knew that was a lie – He knew that people in custody are simply never allowed to go into chambers unescorted by bailiffs no matter what a judge might want.

    The same witness also claimed he was native American which was a surprise to his mother. There is no such family lineage.

    Actually – as the events in Colorado seem to show – we have a lot of very ill people walking around, some of which function under the radar for quite awhile. I deal with them a lot over the years.

    I’m getting off the point about your pre-schooler perhaps. My point is that could it be possible the investigation is over, and it was decided (by police & by school) that child was delusional, incorrect or lying?

  • Alice Spearman

    @#33 Call the Oakland Unified School Police, the person incharge is Cheif Williams, also call OUSD legal services. I would also contact your School Board Member.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Board member Spearman:

    I posted the following and it clearly says DO NOT report to a District Police Department if you are a mandated reporter. in Alamedia County mandated reporters are suppose to report to CPS.

    Can you reference a District policy that contradicts the information I posted on reporting to CPS suspected child abuse?

    The report must be made to a
    county welfare department or
    probation department (if designated
    by the county to receive mandated
    reports) or a police or sheriff’s
    department, not including a school
    district police or security department.
    (P.C. 11165.9)

    Jim Mordecai

  • Brenda

    Thank you both for your response. Case pending. I took my child out of that OPS, but now I’m sceptical of this one. No more school bus, I drive my child everyday. I just wish this kind of behavior would end. What can we do as parents to put a stop to this behavior? First…Communicate. Speak up if you know something. I’m still waiting to hear back from OPD. We will see what happens next.

  • Nextset

    It would really be useful to see what stats there might be on OUSD Child Abuse reports.

    Is the bulk of the reports that of traumatic injury – or is it child sex with adults – or neglect/unfit home?
    I’d imagine the ratios are different depending on demographics.

    I wonder if the OUSD staff report much of the rotted teeth cases, or other medical neglect (especially on the older teens). What about the tattoos, brands, possible self inflicted injuries?

    And when reports are done are they fruitless? Is there any feedback by any agency to the reporters?

  • Nontcair

    #40 wrote: took my child out of that OPS, but now I’m sceptical of this one.

    That’s just moving to another deck chair.

    To have *any* impact you must remove your child *completely* from OUSD. Lower student census equates to less state funding.

    Only then district will the district have an incentive to reduce its negatives.

  • Student Teacher

    Nextset: I worked in a “slope” school in Oakland in which a first grade student had a permanent tatoo that I later found out was a gang symbol on his neck. The principal stated that it was not a CPS issue because the child may have requested or agreed to it and it had healed with no redness (tatoo appeared after the Thanksgiving break).

    I did not report at the time. However, after talking to colleagues outside OUSD about the tattoo and the surrounding discussion I reported anonomously. And to Lisa who has taught 30 years in Oakland – would you report a tatoo on a first grade student?

    Ms. Spearman, I respect the work you do, however, OUSD does not protect its students and does not report as other districts would report. Two specific cases are the tatoo on a first grade student and my neighbor who sent her child to live out of state after being sexually molested by other students in the stairwell at Edna Brewer two years ago. She was a mainstreamed student on an IEP that had not been updated in over three years. The school tried to say that the update needed to be done first to see if she should have been in the stairwell to begin with. So, no, we should not report to the School Police, our principal or any other school personnel. We should follow the manditory reporting to CPS. With a good relationship with the principal, notification can follow for information purposes only. If we really, really want to help these children out of potentially live-altering situations we trust the professionals who are working on behalf of children rather than on behalf of the school district.

  • Nextset

    Student Teacher – Are you sure you want to do this for a living??

    You reacted to a Caste Brand. The gang tattoo is a major major issue for ghetto children. Yes, it’s presence should be reported to the police. Not only that but such a child would not be permitted into a good school. Such a child is only suitable for a school denominated for it’s Caste. In this case, it’s a clear sign to you that you are working in a gang school. Why would you work in a gang school anyway? Do you understand all that this means?

    You should be getting an in service training by the local police in gang issues. If the school doesn’t establish such training each year you and your union should urgently seek such training privately.

    You see, screwing around with gangs can get you killed or worse and can accidently have you getting other people killed. When the gang in question is the Mexican NarcoCartels and their affiliates, be aware that their favored method of discipline is not only executions by kidnappings, decapitations and torture. You might go see the movie “Savages” for some in-service training if the school won’t sponsor some. Get it where you can.

    A few points. Rival gangs will attack and kill each other on sight with no words needed. Also the individual members are not free to refuse to participate in the mayhem. The slightest wavering among the troops will result in draconian discipline against the member. And one in always in, you don’t get to quit and keep hanging around. Your pit bull of a 1st grader may seem cute enough now but if he has the tattoo – or brand – or whatever (clothing, haircuts, IPhone wallpaper, whatever) you can safely assume that his “society” are gang. Be VERY careful what you say and do around any of them.

    I wouldn’t even trade in a store or restaurant with such people much less permit any child of mine to attend such a school or work there. Do what you want for yourself, but at least do your homework to be able to see and assess the vipers you are handling.

    Now what do you think will happen as the little darlings get older and puberty sets in as 10 or so? Ever see what happens when a Negro child macks on a Norteno Princess? (and remember, the NarcoCartels and 10x more fierce and vicious than the CA grown gangs.

    The Black Gangs have their own issues – they aren’t going to have a long life expectancy. They are criminals, but pretty weak compared to the Mexican Gangs (which have discipline where the blacks don’t).

    While people have been sent to prison for gang tattooing a child – it is a abuse/crime – open your eyes and think about what you are reacting to. If you 1st grader is in a gang Caste of course he/she will have a collection of gang marks as well as gang speech and other accoutrements of gang society/caste. Are you going to follow the child till it’s 18 and tell them (and their society) no,no,no?? They are Gang, they are NOT going to not be gang. To do so would mean rejection of their society/Caste. They are proud of the tattoo, red belt, IPhone wallpaper, nail polish or whatever else they may be sporting and the may have obtained it in a ritual reminiscent of a Muslim Circumcision. Are you going to attack the Muslim Circumcisions also?

    There is a limit of what these public schools will even allow you to get into – Political Correctness. That is why your superior is trying to warn you to stay the hell out of it.

    Learn this well, You screw with the gangs and somebody is going to get hurt real fast. And when that happens don’t think you will get one drop of sympathy from OUSD. Or any other such school district. You may not have got the Email buy they very much are not in business to change the society of the children. they believe they are in business to live with it. Ritual Circumcisions and all.

    The Child Abuse reporting issue is not a easy to get your mind around as people think at first blush.

    My advice is to talk to the older teachers and talk to your union about what is prudent, what is safe, and which hill you want to die on or to get somebody else killed on. Oh yes, and to get legal advice on the law – which as you will find is so pliable that it tends to mean whatever people want it to this year.

    Back to your question – if you are reporting gang anything do it anonomously if at all possible and tell no one what you have done. Beyond that, there is little to be gained in sticking around fighting these gangs. You don’t have the insurance policies and you sure don’t any sanction to do so from your employer. They real question is just what are you doing there and how do you expect your wonderful career in such schools to end?

    Brave New World.