For the majority of the week, students are in the classroom. Helping those students learn is a teacher, whose role is not limited to educator. But also protector.
In 1975 the State of Michigan passed the “Child Protection Act” which requires certain adults in certain positions referred to as mandatory reporters, to report any suspected child abuse to authorities.
Under the law mandatory reporters include: social workers, counselors, school nurses, and of course teachers.
If abused is reported, mandatory reporters will not be penalized. But if they don’t, they could be slapped with a 500 dollar fine and even a misdemeanor charge.
But do teachers and other school staff members in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties know their responsibilities?
We went to straight to the handbooks to find out.
We read through more than a dozen of them. from Okemos public schools to Lansing to Williamston, we found that every school district makes some mention of mandated reporter responsibilities but they do it differently.
But after speaking with a spokesperson from the Michigan Department of Education, we learned that school board policies should show mandated reporter responsibilities clearly.
In some board policies, child sexual was described as any “indecent sexual activity in the family” very different from the definition put out by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The majority of these board policies were written by an educational consultant company named Neola. It’s CEO Dick Clapp is a former school superintendent. We called in home to understand more about these policies and how schools use them.
Clapp says, he doesn’t believe “any two districts have the same policy”
He goes on to add that school districts, “could have the policy numbers but the content could be different”.
And Clapp doesn’t think getting into the most finite details of the law is all that important, what really matters, is that they know their legal obligations. And that’s why policies are written in such a broad manner.
Clapp adds, when Neola hands down these policies, they tell administrators that policy is never a substitute for further training
We’re still in the process of making those calls to see if Mid-Michigan schools have training that specifically addresses child sexual abuse
Meantime, the doctors… The law enforcement officers…and the prosecutors say if you’re a mandated reporter you have a duty and ethical obligation to make a report
If you see something no matter who you are, you can do something about it.