If it wasn't clear who is expected to report cases of child abuse or neglect involving students in the Saline Area School district prior to this week, it's now crystal clear.
The Board of Education voted on a number of policy updates, including one to Policy 8462 Student Abuse and Neglect, which involved adding language to the second paragraph of the policy where it's stated who is responsible for reporting incidents.
"Each professional staff member employed by this District..." the paragraph starts, before the new verbiage begins, "...and all other persons employed by this District who are mandatory reporters under the law."
Anyone operating under in such a role, "who has a reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect shall be responsible for reporting immediately every case, whether ascertained or suspected, of abuse or neglect resulting in physical or mental injury to a student by other than accidental means."
Superintendent Scot Graden spoke briefly on the matter, stating that "some cases outside of our community" have brought the need to bolster policy 8462 onto his administration's radar. He also referred non-specifically to instances where people who were in a position where they were considered by the law to be mandatory reporters were not aware of that expectation of them.
This move comes less than a month after a local photographer in Dexter was accused of inappropriate behavior towards minor Dexter High School students [https://thesuntimesnews.com/dexter-community-schools-bans-local-photographer/].
In such instances, SAS policy requires personnel to contact the building principal and their direct supervisor. From that point on officials are to contact the local Family Independence Agency and district administration.
The reporting person is confidential except for court order and is immune from district dismissal or penalty. The information in the report is also confidential and "any unauthorized disclosure by an official or employee of the District is a violation of the law and subjects the disseminator to civil liability for resulting damages."
In instances where a staff member is a perpetrator, building principals are to operate under this policy in all circumstances.
Other policy changes include:
- Policy 2410 Prohibition of Referral or Assistance was adopted to prohibit school officials from referring students for an abortion or otherwise aiding them in attaining one. Those who violate this policy face a penalty in the amount of up to three percent of their yearly salary and other disciplinary measures that are tied to their negotiated contract.
- Policy 3210 Staff Ethics was overhauled to be more specific in what the district expects from its staff. Responsibilities include to the profession in general, possession of professional competence, responsibility to students, responsibility to the community, and ethical use of technology.
- Policy 6800 System of Accounting was updated to include the Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 84 or GASB84 as what the financial records must be in accordance with.
- Policy 7300 Disposition of Real Property was updated to remove board approval as a requirement for finalization of a sale of the district's real property. Responsibilities in this policy will be left to the superintendent and board finance committee, while the board of education will continue to direct these actions through "periodic review."