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Policy 1030 - Child Abuse and Neglect

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines and monitoring requirements for ensuring that employees and service providers, working in their professional capacities, recognize and report abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adult students in accordance with the Annotated Code of Maryland as well as state and local mandates.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

It is the responsibility of the Howard County Public School System to provide a safe, engaging and supportive school environment for all students. The Board of Education affirms its position that all children and vulnerable adults have the right to be protected from abuse and neglect. The Board therefore acknowledges the necessity for the school system to ensure that employees and service providers are able to recognize and report instances of abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adult students. The Board further acknowledges the necessity for the school system to collaborate with child and adult protective service agencies, both private and governmental.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines and monitoring requirements for ensuring that employees and service providers, working in their professional capacities, recognize and report abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adult students in accordance with the Annotated Code of Maryland as well as state and local mandates.

III. Definitions

  1. Abuse

    1. Abuse means any physical or mental injury of a child or vulnerable adult, by any parent, adoptive parent, family or household member, school system employee, service provider, or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of the child or vulnerable adult, under circumstances that indicate that the health or welfare of the child or vulnerable adult is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed; or sexual abuse of a child.

    2. Sexual abuse means any sexual act or acts whether physical injuries are sustained or not involving sexual molestation or exploitation, including but not limited to incest, rape, or sexual offense in any degree, sodomy or unnatural or perverted sexual practices on a child or vulnerable adult by a parent, adoptive parent, family, or household member, school system employee, service provider, or other person who has the permanent or temporary care, custody, or responsibility for supervision of a minor child or vulnerable adult. Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, contact or conduct with a child or vulnerable adult ranging from exposure, voyeurism, sexual advances, kissing, or fondling to sexual crime in any degree; rape, sodomy, prostitution, human trafficking; or allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child or vulnerable adult to engage in obscene photography, films, poses, or similar activity; pornographic photography, films, poses, or similar activity; or prostitution.

  2. Child – Any person under the age of eighteen (18) years of age.

  3. Employee – Both certificated and non-certificated personnel employed by the Howard County Public School System.

  4. Family or Household Member – A person who lives with, or is a regular presence in a home of a child or vulnerable adult, at the time of the alleged abuse or neglect. Regular presence in a household means visiting or staying in a home with sufficient frequency to make an individual a significant part of the child’s, vulnerable adult’s, or family’s life.

  5. Intimidation – Actions or statements that put an individual in fear of bodily harm.

  6. Mental Injury – The observable, identifiable, and substantial impairment of a child’s or vulnerable adult’s mental or psychological ability to function.

  7. Multidisciplinary Team – A group of professionals which meets regularly to provide consultation and treatment planning when appropriate on cases referred from Protective Services. This team meets during the investigative or continuing service phase of Department of Social Services (DSS) involvement in abuse and neglect investigations. The team, chaired by DSS, may include, but is not limited to, members of the following agencies:

    1. State’s Attorney’s Office

    2. Law enforcement

    3. Hospital/medical/public health

    4. Education

    5. Mental health/psychological/psychiatric

    6. Private social services

    7. Domestic violence/sexual assault services

    8. Licensing (of out-of-home, child care)

    9. Department of Juvenile Services

    10. Parole and Probation

    11. Substance Abuse Treatment Providers

  8. Neglect – The leaving of a child or vulnerable adult unattended or other failure to give proper care or attention, or the provision of improper care or attention, to a child or vulnerable adult by any parent, school system employee, service provider, or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of the child or vulnerable adult under circumstances that indicate:

    1. That the child’s or vulnerable adult’s health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm, or

    2. Mental injury to the child or vulnerable adult or a substantial risk of mental injury.

  9. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the child or vulnerable adult:

    1. Biological parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive parent – A person who has legally adopted the child or vulnerable adult and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or an agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the child or vulnerable adult and granted parental rights and privileges.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the child or vulnerable adult and granted parental rights and privileges.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody or control over the child or vulnerable adult, but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian.

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a State agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by section 5-507 of the Family Law Article.

  10. Retaliation – The act or process of threatening or otherwise penalizing a person for reporting an alleged violation of policy or for participating in an investigation of an alleged violation.

  11. School-based Liaisons – Student Services staff members who communicate with the Department of Social Services (DSS) and/or the Howard County Department of Police (police), on a need to know basis, regarding abuse and neglect cases involving students at their assigned schools. School-based liaisons also participate in meetings of the Multidisciplinary Team involving students at their assigned schools in order to plan for the students’ educational needs and to provide care that may assist the students.

  12. Service Providers – Individuals who provide services to the Howard County Public School System either through contract or volunteer service, when those services involve access to students, such as substitute teachers, mentors, chaperones, bus drivers, and individuals who participate in partnership programs.

  13. Vulnerable Adults – Persons 18 years of age or older who are believed to lack the physical or mental capacity to care for their daily needs.

IV. Standards

  1. Target Population

    This policy exists to protect all children and vulnerable adult students who come to the attention of employees and service providers when working in their professional capacity.

  2. Reporting Responsibility of Individual Employee or Service Provider

    Employees and service providers will comply with requirements for reporting abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adult students.

    1. Any employee or service provider must make an immediate oral report of suspected abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult student, notwithstanding any other provision of law including any law on privileged communications. The employee or service provider who suspects the abuse or neglect is personally responsible for ensuring that a report is made.

      1. The oral report must be made immediately to the Howard County Department of Social Services (DSS) (Child Protective Services or Adult Protective Services, as appropriate) on business days, or the police on nonbusiness days or hours.

      2. The employee or service provider must also notify the principal or Superintendent/designee that a report of suspected abuse or neglect has been made. See Standard IV.F if the allegations involve an employee or service provider.

      3. Upon notification, the principal or Superintendent/designee must make certain that an accurate and complete oral report is made immediately and without modification to the proper authorities.

    2. The person making an oral report of abuse or neglect must submit a written report within 48 hours after the contact that disclosed the existence of possible abuse and/or neglect. The principal must make certain that this report is submitted. The form entitled “Report of Suspected Abuse/Neglect/Mental Injury” is to be used. Copies of the report must be sent to:

      1. School principal or the Superintendent/designee

      2. Office of Student Services

      3. DSS (2 copies), and

      4. In the case of suspected abuse:

        1. Howard County Department of Police, Child Abuse Section or Adult Protective Services, and

        2. State’s Attorney for Howard County.

    3. School reporting sources will receive notification of the receipt of the report from DSS if the case is accepted for investigation.

    4. It is not the role of the employee, the principal, the school system, or the service provider to investigate or determine the validity of a suspected abuse or neglect situation. Any doubt about reporting a suspected situation is to be resolved in favor of the child or vulnerable adult, and an oral report must be made immediately. In situations where school personnel or service providers are unsure whether abuse or neglect has taken place, the situation should be discussed with DSS. Once the alleged abuse or neglect has been reported, the Superintendent may pursue an administrative review as provided for in Standard F of this policy when a school system employee is the alleged abuser or neglector.

    5. The employee or service provider is required to report any suspected instance of abuse or neglect:

      1. Whether the alleged victim is personally known by the reporting individual or not. Thus, a report must be made even if there is no direct knowledge or contact with the alleged victim.

      2. Whenever there is reason to believe that abuse occurred in the past, even if the alleged victim is an adult when the incident comes to light.

      3. That is alleged to have occurred in this state, as well as suspected abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult who lives in this state, regardless of where the suspected abuse or neglect is alleged to have occurred. A report must be made to any county department of social services in Maryland if the alleged victim lives out of state and the suspected abuse or neglect occurred out of state and has come to light in Maryland.

    6. Immunity

      Any person who in good faith makes or participates in making a report of abuse or neglect or who participates in an investigation or a resultant judicial proceeding is immune from any civil liability or criminal penalty that would otherwise result from making a report of abuse or neglect, or participating in an investigation or a resultant judicial proceeding.

      1. No employee of the school system may prevent or discourage other employees or service providers from making reports of abuse and neglect. The school system shall protect employees from dismissal or other reprisals/retaliation for making a good faith report and/or participating in an investigation of abuse or neglect.

      2. When a case of suspected abuse or neglect has been reported, employees are prohibited from taking any action which may intimidate the alleged victim or non-victim witness, or which may prejudice the outcome of the case.

      3. All persons are required by law to protect the identity of the reporter unless required by court order to reveal the source.

      4. DSS staff may not identify any reporting source to a reported family unless the educator who filed the report has given written permission to reveal his/her identity.

      5. Students who come forward and make good faith reports, as well as students who may be victims or witnesses of abuse or neglect, shall also be protected by the school system from intimidation, harassment, or reprisals/retaliation by other students, staff, service providers, and members of the community to the extent possible.

  3. Confidentiality of School System Records and Reports Concerning Abuse and Neglect

    Abuse and neglect records and reports will be maintained in a confidential manner and in accordance with State law.

    1. Disclosure

      All records and reports concerning abuse and/or neglect and their outcomes are protected by Maryland law. (See also Policy 9050 - Student Records and Policy 7010 - Personnel Records .) Unauthorized disclosure of such records is a criminal offense. Information contained in reports or records concerning abuse and/or neglect may be disclosed only by DSS or the police.

      1. Such information shall be disclosed by DSS or the police:

        1. Under a court order; or

        2. Under an order of an administrative law judge, if the request for disclosure concerns a case pending before the Office of Administrative Hearings and provisions are made to comply with other State or federal confidentiality laws and to protect the identity of the reporter or other person whose life or safety is likely to be endangered by disclosure; and

      2. Such information may be disclosed only by DSS or the police on request:

        1. To personnel of local or State departments of social services, law enforcement personnel, and members of multidisciplinary case consultation teams, who are investigating a report of known or suspected abuse or neglect or who are providing services to a child or family that is the subject of the report;

        2. To a licensed practitioner who, or an agency, institution, or program which, is providing treatment or care to a child or vulnerable adult who is the subject of a report of abuse or neglect for a purpose relevant to the provision of the treatment or care (school personnel are covered under this provision in accordance with Maryland regulation);

        3. To a parent or other individual who has permanent or temporary care and custody of a child or vulnerable adult, if provisions are made for the protection of the identity of the reporter or any other person whose life or safety is likely to be endangered by disclosing the information;

        4. To the Superintendent for the purpose of carrying out appropriate personnel or administrative actions following a report of suspected abuse involving a student committed by:

          • A public school employee in that school system;

          • An independent contractor who supervises or works directly with students in that school system; or

          • An employee of an independent contractor, including a bus driver or bus assistant, who supervises or works directly with students in that school system.

    2. Student Reports

      1. Abuse and neglect reports are not part of the educational record. They shall be maintained separately from the educational record in a locked file. They are not subject to the disclosure and other requirements of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). No school records relating to matters of abuse or neglect shall be available for inspection by parents. However, employees should be aware that in subsequent court action, the court might determine that such records are material to the case and thus subject to subpoena.

      2. Information contained in school health records that is needed during the existence of a health and safety emergency may be disclosed without parental consent and without violating provisions of FERPA. Educators are required to provide copies of a student’s medical/health records information, upon request to DSS, as needed as part of an abuse/neglect investigation or to provide appropriate services in the best interest of a student who is the subject of a report of abuse or neglect.

      3. When principals become aware that students who are subjects of investigations of abuse or neglect have withdrawn and/or moved out of their schools’ service areas within three months of the initiation of an investigation, they should notify DSS or law enforcement agencies.

      4. Certified copies of relevant custody decrees or civil protection orders provided by parents are placed in the student’s cumulative record so that the school system can comply with pertinent stipulations contained within the order, in the instances where the school system becomes aware of a danger to the student of possible abduction, abuse, or neglect.

    3. Employee Records

      All records and reports of abuse and neglect involving an employee or service provider shall be secured in a locked file cabinet in the Central Office with only designated individuals having access to the files. Other individuals with proper authority and a need to know will record their access on a log maintained by the custodian of the file.

    4. Retention of Records

      1. Abuse and neglect records and reports involving employees and service providers shall be kept on file as long as the individual continues to provide services to the school system and for a period of five (5) years thereafter. These files will then be placed in permanent storage.

      2. Abuse and neglect records and reports involving students shall be retained for a period of five (5) years after the student turns 18, graduates from high school, or after the vulnerable adult turns 21. School-based records and reports concerning abuse or neglect shall be kept on file in the school in which the student was enrolled at the time of the report.

  4. Suspected Abuse and Neglect Investigations

    Employees and service providers will cooperate with DSS and the police in investigations of suspected abuse and neglect.

    1. Validation of suspected abuse or neglect is the responsibility of DSS and the police.

    2. School personnel or service providers attempting to determine if there is reason to suspect abuse or neglect should not subject students to undue pressure, nor should students be pressured to recant allegations of abuse or neglect.

    3. Once it is determined that a report must be made, the employee or service provider reporting the alleged abuse or neglect, the school principal, or any other school-based employees are not to discuss any aspect of the case with the alleged victim or attempt to conduct any internal investigation or independent review of the facts.

    4. School system employees are prohibited, in general, from taking action that prejudices the ongoing case, such as giving an indication to the alleged offender of the report of suspected abuse or neglect.

    5. Interviews on School Property

      1. The principal will permit DSS and the police to question a student who is an alleged victim or a non-victim witness of abuse or neglect on school premises during the school day, whether or not the student has already been interviewed, in an investigation involving suspected abuse or neglect under the Family Law Article.

      2. The principal shall determine, after consultation with the individual from DSS or the police, whether a school official should be present during questioning. The school official should be selected, with input from the victim, on a case-by-case basis for the purpose of providing support and comfort to the student who will be questioned. All questioning of the victim or the non-victim witness must be done by the police or representative of DSS. The Howard County Public School System/Howard County Department of Social Services “Procedures Concerning Abuse Investigations During School Hours” shall be followed.

      3. Decisions as to who will notify parents of a report or interview and when that notification will occur will be made by the principal in consultation with the Division of Protective Services, DSS, or the police. Notification by the principal is not required in a case where, in the judgment of the principal and personnel from the Division of Protective Services, DSS and/or the police, such a disclosure to parents would create a threat to the investigation or well being of the student. In these cases, the social worker or police officer are responsible for the notification of parents.

      4. A student may not be removed from the school grounds for questioning or medical investigation without parental approval unless DSS has guardianship or an authorization for shelter care to remove the student or unless there is a medical emergency which is caused by suspected abuse or neglect. Such an authorization need not be in hand but shall be verified by telephone. Removal from school grounds requires prompt notification of the student’s parents. This is not discretionary. When a student is removed, the principal shall ensure that prompt notification of the removal is made to parents. By mutual agreement, such notification may be delegated to DSS or the police, but responsibility for ensuring that prompt notification occurs is that of the principal.

  5. Support for Students

    Employees and service providers will collaborate with child and adult protective service agencies and the police to provide support to alleged victims of abuse and neglect as well as students who report abuse or neglect.

    1. Guidance counselors, school psychologists, pupil personnel workers, school-based liaisons, nurses, and other appropriate school system personnel are available to provide support and counseling to students who come forward to report or confirm allegations of abuse or neglect.

    2. Instructional Intervention Team/Student Support Team meetings should be called for the purpose of providing services and supports to students known to be, or suspected of having been, abused or neglected.

    3. A school-based liaison may request that DSS convene a multidisciplinary team meeting to share or obtain information, or to discuss concerns, to the extent permitted by the confidentiality statute in order to coordinate planning services to the student. School-based liaisons and other appropriate school personnel are expected to participate in the team meetings in accordance with the procedures established between DSS and Howard County Public School System. School-based liaisons may also request information outside of the multidisciplinary team meeting in order to coordinate planning services to the student.

  6. Allegations of Abuse or Neglect Against an Employee or Service Provider

    The process for addressing allegations of abuse or neglect that involve a school system employee or service provider will adhere to appropriate state law and the Memorandum of Understanding.

    1. Whenever an employee or service provider makes an oral report of suspected abuse or neglect against a school system employee or service provider to DSS or the police, the reporter shall also immediately notify the Superintendent/designee and the principal or immediate supervisor as appropriate.

    2. In every case of alleged abuse or neglect, an internal investigation will be conducted by the Superintendent’s designee and a decision reached regarding discipline where warranted, even when DSS and the police close out a case without taking action. Such investigations must be conducted in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding.

      1. There will be no internal investigation of the allegations until it is clear that such investigation will not interfere with the efforts of either the police or DSS.

      2. To the extent that some preliminary inquiry must be made to determine what action should be taken by the school system on an interim basis, the inquiry may be pursued only with the permission of law enforcement authorities and DSS.

      3. The DSS and/or the police might decide not to pursue a report. If DSS does investigate, it will make one of three determinations:

        1. Indicated by preponderance of the evidence: a finding that there is credible evidence, which has not been satisfactorily refuted, that abuse or neglect occurred

        2. Unsubstantiated: a finding that there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of Indicated or Ruled Out

        3. Ruled Out: a finding that abuse or neglect did not occur

      4. The State’s Attorney makes a separate determination as to whether to bring criminal charges.

      5. The school system’s investigation can proceed when permission is granted by DSS and the police. To the extent possible, the system’s investigation should make use of police reports, statements, and other information obtained in accordance with Section 1-202 of the Human Services Article to preclude repetitive questioning of alleged victims and witnesses.

      6. The primary purpose of the HCPSS investigation is to determine if there is evidence of employee or service provider misconduct. In addition, the investigation should determine whether the matter was reported in a manner consistent with the law and school system policy and procedures.

    3. Upon learning of allegations of abuse or neglect against a school system employee or service provider, the Superintendent/designee shall immediately:

      1. Establish a case file.

      2. Ensure that communication with DSS and the police is established as appropriate.

      3. If an employee’s assignment involves access to students, reassign the employee to remove such access. An exception may be made and employees may be retained in their positions in those instances where there is significant, credible information that reassignment is not warranted. Reassignment may be considered at any time during investigations by DSS, the police, or HCPSS of the allegations.

      4. Restrict the service provider’s access to students or discontinue their services until the investigation is complete.

      5. Where necessary, ensure that the employee or service provider is notified only of the details pertinent to the reassignment or discontinuation of services. When such notification occurs, care must be taken not to discuss the allegation in order to ensure that the integrity of the investigation is not compromised.

      6. Ensure that the Howard County Board of Education is informed of allegations against the employee or service provider and provide the Board with periodic status reports. In the case of a service provider, the appropriate official of the service provider’s business (where applicable) must also be notified, following the cautions in Standard IV.F.3.e.

      7. Oversee any internal investigation.

      8. Present findings and a recommendation to the Superintendent.

    4. Discipline Procedures

      1. In every case of allegations of abuse or neglect against employees or service providers, the Superintendent shall notify the Board with a summary of the allegations, the finding, the decision regarding discipline, and the rationale. Specific details should be limited in order to ensure that the employee receives appropriate due process in the event that disciplinary actions are imposed or recommended and the employee appeals to the Board of Education.

      2. In cases where discipline of an employee is recommended, the Superintendent will hold a due process meeting with the employee to advise the employee of the charges and present an opportunity for response.

      3. If the Superintendent determines that a preponderance of evidence proves that the employee has not committed acts of abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult or other inappropriate acts, the Superintendent shall return the employee who was reassigned during the investigation to his/her previous assignment or to a substantially equivalent position.

      4. If the Superintendent determines that a preponderance of evidence proves that the employee has committed acts of abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult or other inappropriate acts, the Superintendent must advise the employee in writing of the disciplinary action to be taken. However, where the Superintendent determines that the appropriate punishment is the suspension or dismissal of the employee, the Superintendent shall notify the State’s Attorney’s office to allow for a request that administrative discipline be deferred if such an administrative action would jeopardize the State’s criminal case. In the case of a certificated employee, the notification to the State’s Attorney shall take place before preparation of a recommendation to the Board of Education that the employee be suspended or dismissed, in accordance with Section 6-202 of the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

      5. In the case of service providers, after the investigation is complete, the Superintendent/designee shall make a decision whether to continue services.

  7. Consequences for Failure to Report and for Crimes with Respect to Abuse or Neglect

    1. Knowing Failure to Report

      1. Knowing failure to report suspected abuse or neglect in violation of the reporting requirements constitutes misconduct in office for which an employee may be suspended or dismissed.

      2. Knowing failure to report suspected abuse or neglect in violation of the reporting requirements by a service provider may result in discontinuation of services.

      3. Knowing failure to report on the part of employees or service providers will be communicated to the appropriate certification or licensing agency. Any certificate issued under the State Board of Education’s regulations may be suspended or revoked by the State Superintendent.

      4. In every case of allegations of failure to report child abuse and neglect against employees or service providers, the Superintendent shall notify the Board with a summary of allegations, the finding, the decision regarding discipline, and the rationale. Specific details should be limited in order to ensure that the employee receives appropriate due process in the event that disciplinary actions are imposed or recommended and the employee appeals to the Board of Education.

    2. Crimes with Respect to Abuse or Neglect

      1. An employee involved in abuse or neglect shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment.

      2. If a certificated employee pleads guilty or Nolo Contendere, receives probation before judgment, is convicted of a crime with respect to child abuse or neglect, or is dismissed or resigns after notice of allegations of misconduct involving a student or any minor, the Superintendent shall initiate the process for having his/her Maryland Certificate revoked by the State Superintendent of Schools.

      3. Pursuant to COMAR 13A.12.05.03, the Howard County Public School System’s Superintendent shall notify the State Superintendent in writing of charges against a certificate holder, if the certificate holder was employed by the school system at the time the conduct occurred or if the conduct was reported to the system in a criminal background investigation. When a certificate holder is not employed by the Howard County Public School System, such reports may be made through the Assistant State Superintendent in Certification and Accreditation.

      4. If a service provider pleads guilty, Nolo Contendere, receives probation before judgment, or is convicted of a crime with respect to abuse or neglect, services will be discontinued.

      5. The Superintendent will report misconduct under this standard by non-certificated employees or service providers to any appropriate certification or licensing boards.

  8. Multidisciplinary Team

    The school system shall collaborate with DSS and be actively involved in multidisciplinary team meetings.

    1. Investigations

      In cases of alleged abuse or neglect where the accused is a school system employee or service provider, the Superintendent’s designee shall be involved in a multidisciplinary team meeting for the purpose of ascertaining information and determining the appropriate course of action. The agreements contained in the Memorandum of Understanding shall be followed.

    2. Support Services

      The school-based liaison may be involved in a multidisciplinary team meeting for the purpose of assisting in the care and providing coordinated services to a student or family that is the subject of the report.

  9. Professional Development

    The school system, in collaboration with child protective service agencies and the police, will provide appropriate professional development to ensure that employees and service providers will carry out this policy.

    1. All new employees shall receive training in recognizing and reporting physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and mental injury of a child or vulnerable adult. This training shall occur prior to the first day that students report each year. For those hired after that date, training shall be provided as soon as reasonably possible, but not more than 45 days after the employee begins work. The Office of Student Services will provide training to new school-based employees. The Office of Student Services will provide assistance to appropriate supervisors in the training of other new employees. All new school system employees are required to sign a training certificate attesting to the fact that they have been trained in recognizing physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and mental injury of a child or vulnerable adult and that they have an understanding of the reporting requirements, stipulated through law and this policy. A copy of the training certificate will be placed in each employee’s personnel file.

    2. Annual review of this policy shall be provided to all employees, including administrators and supervisors, by September 30th of each year. Consultation services are available from the Office of Student Services. All principals and appropriate supervisors are required to sign a verification form annually, attesting to the fact that their employees have been made aware of the requirements for reporting physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and mental injury. Verification forms will be forwarded to the Office of Student Services.

    3. Service providers shall receive training and/or information in recognizing and reporting physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and mental injury of a child or vulnerable adult. This shall occur as soon as reasonably possible after they begin providing services, and annually thereafter. Principals and appropriate supervisors are responsible for ensuring that service providers receive appropriate training and/or information. Service providers will be required to sign a form that they have been made aware of the indicators of abuse and neglect and know how to file a report. Such forms shall be retained by the principal/supervisor.

  10. Parental and Student Notification and Educational Outreach

    The school system shall notify parents and students annually of the legal responsibility of all employees, service providers and students to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect. The school system will also provide educational information to the community regarding abuse and neglect.

  11. Monitoring

    To monitor the implementation of this policy and to ensure continued diligence, abuse and neglect statistics from the previous year shall be compiled and reported annually to the Board of Education. The report will contain disaggregated statistics and trend analysis as appropriate. These statistics shall include:

    1. The number of reports of abuse and number of reports of neglect for both children and vulnerable adult students.

      1. The number of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and mental injury reports made by school system employees and service providers.

      2. The number of reports made by employees and service providers involving accusations against employees and service providers and the final dispositions of those reports by action taken.

      3. The number of letters sent by the Superintendent requesting the revocation of certificates or licenses as the result of this policy, disaggregated by the reason for the action.

      4. The number of investigations of abuse or neglect by DSS on school property during school hours.

    2. A description of major professional development and educational outreach efforts by the school system directed toward staff, students, families, and the community.

    3. The number of multidisciplinary team meetings requested by school system personnel; the number of meetings in which school system personnel have participated, either with regard to the investigation of reports of known or suspected abuse or neglect by an employee or service provider or with regard to the provision of coordinated interagency services to students who are the subjects of the reports; the number of students served by this team approach; the number and types of services provided; and their resultant outcomes.

    4. The number of problem solving team meetings that are called for the purpose of serving students known to be or suspected of having been abused or neglected, the number of students served by this team approach, the number and types of services provided by these teams, and resultant outcomes.

V. Compliance

  1. The Superintendent is responsible for:

    1. Ensuring that all employees and service providers report suspected abuse and neglect in accordance with the standards set forth herein.

    2. Ensuring that the school system has procedures to protect the identity of persons reporting abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adults.

    3. Ensuring that investigations of employees and service providers are conducted in accordance with this policy and the Memorandum of Understanding.

    4. Providing for annual notification to employees, service providers, students, and families of this policy.

    5. Designating staff to conduct investigations involving allegations against employees and service providers in accordance with Standards IV.F.2, IV.F.3, and IV.G.1.d.

    6. Designating a staff member to serve as the custodian of the file regarding school system employee records. This person will review and maintain the information on school system employees and service providers, of any status, who become the subject of investigations involving abuse and neglect, or who fail to report abuse or neglect. The custodian of the file will provide statistical data to the Office of Student Services for the annual report.

    7. Ensuring that, where appropriate, actions to decertify a certificated employee, or to revoke the license of a licensed employee, will be initiated.

    8. Reporting to the Board regarding the status and disposition of all cases of allegations of abuse or neglect against employees and service providers, as well as any disciplinary action taken as a result of failure to report.

  2. Principals and appropriate supervisors are responsible for:

    1. Ensuring that neither students nor individuals under their supervision are subjected to retaliation or harassment as a result of this policy.

    2. Forwarding annual verification forms to the Office of Student Services.

  3. Principals are responsible for:

    1. Making certain that an accurate and complete oral report is made immediately and without modification to the proper authorities, upon notification by an employee or service provider of suspected abuse or neglect, and that a written report is made within 48 hours.

    2. Designating a school-based liaison for abuse and neglect who will communicate with DSS and/or the police and participate, as needed, on multidisciplinary meetings.

    3. Ensuring that school-based records and reports concerning abuse or neglect are confidential and are secured in a locked file.

    4. Notifying DSS or law enforcement agencies when they become aware that students who are subjects of investigations of abuse or neglect have withdrawn and/or moved out of their schools’ service areas within three months of the initiation of an investigation.

  4. The Office of Student Services is responsible for:

    1. Providing updated information regarding this policy, including phone numbers, to all schools and offices.

    2. Compiling and reporting abuse and neglect statistics to the Board of Education annually.

    3. Assisting with professional development, training, and educational outreach efforts towards staff, students, families, and the community.

  5. Employees and service providers are responsible for making immediate oral reports and written reports within 48 hours of abuse or neglect of children or vulnerable adults in accordance with this policy.

  6. School-based liaisons are responsible for:

    1. Communicating with DSS and/or the police

    2. Coordinating support for students who are suspected of being abused or neglected

    3. Participating in meetings of the Multidisciplinary Team as needed

    4. Assisting with training of school-based staff.

  7. The custodial parent or other person obtaining an order (not Howard County Public School System) is responsible for providing the school with any protective order which terminates or limits the non-custodial parent’s or any other person’s right of access to the student.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures for the implementation of this policy.

VII. References

  • COMAR 13.A.08.01.13, Questioning on School Premises

  • COMAR 13A.12.05, Suspensions and Revocations of Certifications

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Criminal Law Article, Section 3-601, Child Abuse, and Section 3-602, Sexual Abuse of a Minor

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Criminal Law Article, Section 3-604, Abuse or Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult in the First Degree

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 6-202, Suspension or Dismissal of Teachers, Principals and Other Professional Personnel

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Family Law Article, Title 5, Subtitle 7, Child Abuse and Neglect

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Family Law Article, Title 14, Subtitle 3, Investigative Provisions (Vulnerable Adults)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Health General Article, Title 4, Subtitle 3, Confidentiality of Medical Records, Section 306

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Human Services Article, Section 1-202 and 1-203, Confidentiality and Disclosure of Information Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

C. Other

Howard County Public School System/Howard County Department of Social Services “Procedures Concerning Abuse Investigations During School Hours”

Memorandum of Understanding (Howard County Multidisciplinary Team)

VIII. History

ADOPTED: October 11, 1977

REVIEWED: July 1, 2012

MODIFIED: August 14, 2014, September 8, 2016

REVISED: July 25, 1991, May 28, 1992, June 27, 1996, January 26, 2006

EFFECTIVE: September 8, 2016

Edited December 13, 2007 to remove a reference (page 20 in policy PDF) to a rescinded policy and for minor formatting.