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A bill to require CA school personnel to spot, report abuse

Vanessa Romo | February 13, 2014

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Assemblyman Michael Gatto

Assemblyman Michael Gatto

A Los Angeles state assembly member introduced a bill yesterday that would require formal training for all school employees on the identification and reporting of suspected child abuse.

Assembly Bill 1432 is sponsored by Michael Gatto, a Democrat whose district includes Atwater Village, Burbank, Glendale, Hollywood, La Cañada, Flintridge, La Crescenta, Los Feliz, Montrose and Silver Lake.

California law categorizes school employees as “mandatory reporters.” They are professionals with a legal obligation to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement or protective services. But the law does not require districts to provide any accompanying training in these duties.

Similar legislative proposals have been made in the past, but they allowed school districts to develop their own training programs. Gatto’s bill would establish a uniform set of standards, developed by the Department of Education.

The measure would require all district employees to complete annual online or in person training within the first six weeks of each year or the first six weeks of being hired. And, it would reinforce the fact that failure to report constitutes a misdemeanor punishable with jail time and a fine.

LA Unified conducts several trainings over the school year, including an online course that must be completed by all personnel. Additionally, Walter Flores, of the district’s Office of School Operations, said administrators conduct in-person workshops which include “real-life scenarios to ensure the practical application of procedures and policies.”

The cost of the measure would be borne by the state, which is required to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain programs mandated by the state.

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