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Atascadero USD |  E  1312.1  Community Relations

Complaints Concerning District Employees   

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CDE Legal Advisory Lo: 4-93 Procedures For Parents Or Guardians Of Students To Identify And Report Child Abuse Committed At A School Site By A School District Employee Or Other Person

The following information, taken from Penal Code Sections 273a, 273d, and 11165.6, will assist parents/guardians in deciding whether to file a complaint of child abuse.

What is Child Abuse and What is Not Child Abuse

Child abuse is a physical injury which is inflicted by other than accidental means on a child by another person.

It also means the sexual abuse of a child.

It also means willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment of a child, or willfully inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or failure to safeguard a child from these injuries when the child is under a person's care or custody.

It also means unlawful corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition.

Child abuse also means neglect of a child or abuse in out-of-home care. (Out-of-home care is defined in Penal Code Section 11165.5 as a situation where the person responsible for the child's welfare is a licensee, administrator, or employee of any facility licensed to care for children, or an administrator or employee of a public or private school or other institution or agency.)

Child abuse does not mean a mutual affray or fight between minors.

It also does not include an injury caused by the actions of a peace officer using reasonable and necessary force:

1. To quell a disturbance threatening physical injury to person or damage to property

2. To prevent physical injury to person or damage to property

3. For purposes of self-defense

4. To obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects within the control of a child or

5. To apprehend an escapee

In addition, child abuse does not include injury caused by any force that is reasonable and necessary for persons employed by or engaged in a public school:

1. To stop a disturbance threatening physical injury to people or damage to property

2. For purposes of self-defense or

3. To obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects within control of a student (Education Code 44807, 49001)

How to File a Complaint of Child Abuse Against School District Employees or Others at School Sites

Parents/guardians of students have the right to file a complaint against a school district employee or other person that they suspect has engaged in abuse of a child at a school site.

To file a complaint, the parent/guardian must file a formal report with the local child protective agency. This may be done by telephone, in person, or in writing. A complaint may also be filed with the appropriate local school district or county office of education; however, school districts and county offices of education do not investigate child abuse complaints.

In addition, if the child is disabled and enrolled in special education, a separate complaint may be filed with the California Department of Education (CDE) under the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 4650(a)(viii)(c). The CDE does not investigate allegations of child abuse. The CDE investigates conditions that may involve immediate physical danger or threaten the health, safety or welfare of the child and which may result in denial of free appropriate public education.

As defined in the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act of 1987, a child protective agency is:

1. A police or sheriff's department

2. A county probation department; or

3. A county welfare department/child protective services.

These agencies are listed in local telephone directories under government listings. Police will be found under city government listings; sheriffs, probation, welfare departments and child protective services will be found under county government listings.

The local child protective agency shall investigate the complaint. (Penal Code 11165.14)

If the complaint is substantiated, the local child protective agency is required to forward a copy of the investigation report to the governing board of the local school district or county office of education. (Penal Code 11165.14)

Child protective agencies are also required to cross-report every known or suspected instance of child abuse to the other child protective agencies having jurisdiction over the case (for example, county welfare to law enforcement, and vice versa), to the agency responsible for conducting investigations for dependency determinations pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code 300, and to the District attorney. (Penal Code 11166(g))


version: November 2, 1999 Atascadero, California