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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Highland Hall - Breaking Mandated Reporting Laws

August 7, 2001

I think it is important to continue to examine what has happened recently at Highland Hall - until we are all satisfied that we have gotten to the truth. Many of us, I'm sure, would like to know if any laws were broken. I will admit that I'm no expert on the law, but I have obtained a copy of the Child Abuse and Reporting Act - California Penal Code Section 11164 - 11174.3 - and as I stated in another letter, I CAN read. I am going to quote from this document but, as we all know, anything can be taken out of context and made to sound different than it was intended. I will, therefore, be happy to provide anyone who would like it, a copy of the complete document. It can also be found on the internet - I just did a search on the words "California" and "Law". Please let me know if you would like a copy.

***PLEASE NOTE: While I have tried to remove the most graphic descriptions contained in the law, there may be some wording contained in the law that some might find disturbing. Please forgive me if this information is an intrusion and disregard this message.

Here's part of what the law defines as "child molestation":

11165.1. As used in this article, "sexual abuse" means sexual
assault or sexual exploitation as defined by the following:
(4) The intentional touching of the genitals or intimate parts
(including the breasts, genital area, groin, inner thighs, and
buttocks) or the clothing covering them, of a child, or of the
perpetrator by a child, for purposes of sexual arousal or

I think it has already been established that this took place, but even if this activity didn't take place, there was certainly enough reasonable suspicion about what had been going on with Jeffrey since November to require the reporting of ANY activities involving him and young children on the school grounds.

As it applies to our situation, here is who the law defines as a mandated reporter:

11165.7. (a) As used in this article, "mandated reporter" is
defined as any of the following:
(1) A teacher.
(2) An instructional aide.
(3) A teacher's aide or teacher's assistant employed by any public
or private school.
(4) A classified employee of any public school.
(5) An administrative officer or supervisor of child welfare and
attendance, or a certificated pupil personnel employee of any public
or private school.
(6) An administrator of a public or private day camp.
(7) An administrator or employee of a public or private youth
center, youth recreation program, or youth organization.
(8) An administrator or employee of a public or private
organization whose duties require direct contact and supervision of
(9) Any employee of a county office of education or the California
Department of Education, whose duties bring the employee into
contact with children on a regular basis.

I've left off the police officers, fire-fighters, dog catchers, and other professionals that are included on this list but don't pertain to us. It is also important to note the following:

(e) The absence of training shall not excuse a mandated reporter
from the duties imposed by this article.

OK, so now that we know who the mandated reporters are, when are they supposed to report?

11166. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (c){THIS REFERS TO AN EXEMPTION FOR CLERGY MEMBERS - PK}, a mandated
reporter shall make a report to an agency specified in Section
11165.9 whenever the mandated reporter, in his or her professional
capacity or within the scope of his or her employment, has knowledge
of or observes a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably
suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect. The
mandated reporter shall make a report to the agency immediately or as
soon as is practicably possible by telephone, and the mandated
reporter shall prepare and send a written report thereof within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident.

It was confirmed in last week's meeting (this was the question I asked you, Hasib) that the after school care committee had not one, but repeated occurrences of these types of incidents with Jeffrey to the point that they could "no longer handle him". These persons were all mandatory reporters yet no report was filed.

Was it reasonable for them to suspect anything?

(1) For the purposes of this article, "reasonable suspicion" means
that it is objectively reasonable for a person to entertain a
suspicion, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person in a
like position, drawing, when appropriate, on his or her training and
experience, to suspect child abuse or neglect.

Were any laws broken?

(b) Any mandated reporter who fails to report an incident of known
or reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect as required by this
section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months
confinement in a county jail or by a fine of one thousand dollars
($1,000) or by both that fine and punishment.

What if the person who should have made the report failed to make the report? Is everyone else off the hook?

(f) When two or more persons, who are required to report, jointly
have knowledge of a known or suspected instance of child abuse or
neglect, and when there is agreement among them, the telephone report
may be made by a member of the team selected by mutual agreement and
a single report may be made and signed by the selected member of the
reporting team. Any member who has knowledge that the member
designated to report has failed to do so shall thereafter make the report.
What if the report was made to a supervisor and the supervisor said not to worry about it - or to keep it quiet?

(g) (1) The reporting duties under this section are individual,
and no supervisor or administrator may impede or inhibit the
reporting duties, and no person making a report shall be subject to
any sanction for making the report. However, internal procedures to
facilitate reporting and apprise supervisors and administrators of
reports may be established provided that they are not inconsistent
with this article.

(3) Reporting the information regarding a case of possible child
abuse or neglect to an employer, supervisor, school principal, school
counselor, co-worker, or other person shall not be a substitute for
making a mandated report to an agency specified in Section 11165.9.

But what if the reporter was worried about causing trouble or even losing their job?

(2) The internal procedures shall not require any employee
required to make reports pursuant to this article to disclose his or
her identity to the employer.

We have heard the school's claim of possible liability on the part of the school for reporting Jeffrey, because he was a minor.

11172. (a) No mandated reporter who reports a known or suspected
instance of child abuse or neglect shall be civilly or criminally
liable for any report required or authorized by this article.

But what if the mandated reporters didn't know they were mandated reporters?

11166.5. (a) On and after January 1, 1985, any mandated reporter as
specified in Section 11165.7, with the exception of child visitation
monitors, prior to commencing his or her employment, and as a
prerequisite to that employment, shall sign a statement on a form
provided to him or her by his or her employer to the effect that he
or she has knowledge of the provisions of Section 11166 and will
comply with those provisions. The employer shall provide a copy of
Sections 11165.7 and 11166 to the employee.

The statement shall inform the employee that he or she is a
mandated reporter and inform the employee of his or her reporting
obligations under Section 11166.

The signed statements shall be retained by the employer or the
court, as the case may be. The cost of printing, distribution, and
filing of these statements shall be borne by the employer or the

(c) As an alternative to the procedure required by subdivision
(b), a state agency may cause the required statement to be printed on
all application forms for a license or certificate printed on or
after January 1, 1986.

So, if this is the case, and the mandated reporters didn't know they were mandated to report, then is the school guilty of not providing this information. This would be easy enough to verify as the signed and dated documents for each and every employee at Highland Hall would be on record. If they are on record, then the mandated reporters didn't do their mandated reporting. If these documents are not on file, then it would seem the school didn't fulfill their obligation under the law to provide this documentation.

I would encourage everyone to procure a copy of this law (especially faculty and administrators at Highland Hall) and read it - it's only about 25 pages but I will admit it's a difficult read. Again, I must apologize for the lengthy email. There is so much to do before the school year starts!

Warm wishes,

Pete Karaiskos