School District Adopts Policy to Report Suspected Child Abuse




School District Adopts Policy to Report Suspected Child Abuse

A policy was recently approved in Bedford, NY, to enforce stricter guidelines for reporting suspected child abuse.

The new policy was implemented as the result of a case involving the sexual abuse of a Bedford Hills Elementary School student in 2005.

Failure to Report Suspected Abuse

In March, the mother of a 9-year-old girl filed a lawsuit against Bedford Hills Elementary School accusing the principal and school faculty that they failed to report the possible sexual abuse of her daughter.  

The girl reportedly told friends on the playground that she was having sexual relations with her mother’s ex-boyfriend. When parents overheard the girls talking, they immediately informed school officials.

However, according to prosecutors, the school never told the child’s mother about the rumored abuse or did anything to prevent it.

The suit has charged that the girl was molested for eight additional months by the mother’s former boyfriend, Cesar Joel Sagastume-Morales, because the school failed to report the case to authorities.
Nancy Morgan, the attorney for the girl and her mother, believe that the school had an obligation to report what they were told.

“A school who’s told very specifically by an adult that there’s sexual misconduct or child abuse going on…I think that would meet the definition of reasonable suspicion,” states Morgan.

Schools Revise Their Policies

Due to the Bedford case, other schools in the surrounding areas are taking a second look at their own policies when it comes to suspected abuse with children.

“Districts throughout the state are looking at their policies,” says Ken Kurzweil, president emeritus of the Bedford Teachers Association.

The president of the Bedford Teachers Association, Adam Yuro, says there are many gray areas regarding suspected abuse that they are hoping to clarify.

The new guidelines demand that all suspected abuse be immediately reported to authorities and a written report of the abuse must also be sent to the New York State Child Protective Services.

(Source: The Journal News)

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