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PURPOSE

This policy is to ensure that TSBVI staff shall report in accord with this policy and/or all applicable laws suspected abuse, neglect, exploitation, and improper care of students.  The Family Code designates TSBVI as an investigating agency for incidents alleged to have occurred at the School.  The School shall investigate all reports of suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and reports of suspected improper care that might rise to the level of abuse neglect or exploitation.  The primary purposes of this policy are to protect students from harm and to ensure compliance with Texas Family Code (TFC) and corresponding state rules and regulations.  Because of our students’ common vulnerabilities, a higher standard of care and reporting is required at TSBVI, which includes reporting suspected “improper child care”.  Family Code 261.003, .401

SCOPE

The law imposes a duty on everyone, from ordinary citizens to relatives, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and religious officers to report suspected child abuse or neglect under penalty of criminal prosecution for the failure to do so.  This policy applies to all situations in which a report regarding possible abuse, neglect, exploitation or improper care of a student is required, regardless of the age of student. 

Situations where a student has allegedly acted improperly towards another student shall be dealt with under any applicable law and other TSBVI policies and procedures.

ANTI-VICTIMIZATION PROGRAM

The School shall provide child abuse anti-victimization programs in elementary and secondary programs.
Education Code 38.004

DEFINITIONS

Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation, And Improper Care

The following definitions apply to the School:

  1. "Abuse" means any intentional, knowing, or reckless act or omission by an employee, volunteer, or other individual working under the auspices of a facility that causes or may cause emotional harm or physical injury, (whether substantial or not), or the death of, a child served by the facility as further described by rule or policy.  Abuse includes both physical and sexual abuse.
  2. "Neglect" means a negligent act or omission by an employee, volunteer, or other person working under the auspices of a facility, including failure to comply with an individual treatment plan, plan of care, or individualized service plan, that causes or may cause substantial emotional harm or physical injury to, or the death of, a child served by the facility as further described by rule or policy.
  3. "Exploitation" means the illegal or improper use of a child or of the resources of a child served by a facility for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain by an employee, volunteer, or other individual working under the auspices of a facility as further described by rule or policy.
    Family Code 261.001Penal Code 21.11
  4. “Improper Care” means any action or omission on the part of an employee, volunteer, or other individual working under the auspices of TSBVI that constitutes a seriously inappropriate action or omission, or a pattern of actions or omissions, which are contrary to school standards.  Improper care adversely affects the student’s overall sense of safety, security, or well-being but does not pose the threat of bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the student that would constitute abuse, neglect or exploitation as those terms are defined in Texas Family Code 261.001.  Improper care includes an inappropriate or unapproved verbal or physical method of interacting with or disciplining a student.  Examples include but are not limited to, participating in or knowingly permitting teasing, hazing, bullying, deprivation of food, and all forms of corporal punishment. 

PROCEDURES

The Superintendent shall ensure that procedures are adopted to implement the requirements of this policy.  Family Code 261.401

DUTY TO REPORT

Report of Child Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation

Any TSBVI employee, volunteer or other individual working under the auspices of TSBVI who has cause to believe that the physical, or mental, health, or welfare of a student regardless of age, has been, or may be, adversely affected by abuse, neglect, or exploitation by any person shall immediately report such belief to:

  1. a local, or state, law enforcement authority; or
  2. the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), Child Protective Services Division toll free number1-800-252-5400, on line at https://www.txabusehotline.org; or
  3. the appropriate TSBVI official, as set forth in TSBVI Administrative Procedure “Reporting and Investigating Suspected Student Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Improper Care”. 
    See Reporting Suspected Abuse or Neglect of a Child: Reporting Basics and A Guide for Professionals.  http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/training/reporting/
    Texas Family Code 261.101

Making a report is mandatory.  Texas Family Code 261.103(c)

TSBVI shall immediately notify the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency of any report TSBVI receives, other than a report from a law enforcement agency, that concerns the suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a child or the death of a child from abuse or neglect.  If TSBVI finds evidence indicating that a child may have been abused, neglected, or exploited, TSBVI shall report the evidence to the appropriate law enforcement agency.  If a child appears to need immediate medical attention or is in immediate danger, call 911.
Texas Family Code 261.401(d), 261.402(b)

If a person makes a report of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation by an employee, volunteer or other person working under the auspices of TSBVI to one of the entities listed in numbers 1 through 3 above, that person shall also make an immediate report to TSBVI in the manner specified in TSBVI Administrative Procedure “Reporting and Investigating Suspected Student Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Improper Care”. 

Information in Report of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation - External

A report alleging suspected abuse or neglect while the student was not in the care of TSBVI that is made to the Texas Department of Family or Protective Services Hotline or to a local or state law enforcement agency shall contain, if known, the name and address of the child, the name and address of the person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child, if available, and any other pertinent information concerning the alleged or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation.  Family Code 261.102,.103.104

Report of Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation or Improper Care - Internal

Any TSBVI employee, volunteer, or other individual working under the auspices of TSBVI having cause to believe that a student of any age has been or may be exploited or the subject of improper care while in the care, custody, or control of the School, shall immediately report such belief to the appropriate TSBVI official, as set forth in TSBVI Administrative Procedure “Reporting and Investigating Suspected Student Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Improper Care”.  Family Code 261.401

Psychotropic Drugs and Psychological Testing

An employee may not use or threaten to use the refusal of a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of any TSBVI student to administer or consent to the administration of a psychotropic drug to the student, or to consent to any other psychiatric or psychological testing or treatment of the student, as the sole basis for making a report of neglect of the student under Subchapter B, Chapter 261, Family Code, unless the employee has cause to believe that the refusal:

  1. Presents a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury to the student, or
  2. Has resulted in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the student.

Education Code 26.0091; Family Code 261.111(a)
Psychotropic drug means a substance that is:

  1. Used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease or as a component of a medication; and
  2. Intended to have an altering effect on perception, emotion, or behavior.

Family Code 261.111(a)

PROHIBITION AGAINST DELEGATION

An employee, volunteer, or other individual working under the auspices of TSBVI may not delegate to or rely on another person to make any report required under this policy of TSBVI Administrative Procedure “Reporting and Investigating Suspected Student Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Improper Care”.  Family Code 261.101(b)

CONFIDENTIALITY

A report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect and the identity of the person making the report are confidential and not subject to release under Government Code Chapter 552 (Public Information Act) and may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with federal or state law or under rules adopted by an investigating agency.  Family Code 261.201(a)(1)

Unless waived in writing by the person making the report, the identity of an individual making a report is confidential and may be disclosed only to a law enforcement officer for the purposes of a criminal investigation of the report, or as ordered by a court under accordance with Texas Family Code 261.201.  Family Code 261.101(d)

IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY

A person filing a report or testifying or otherwise participating in any judicial proceeding arising from a petition, report, or investigation is immune from civil or criminal liability on account of his or her petition, report, testimony or participation, unless the person acted in bad faith or with a malicious purpose.  Family Code 261.106
The School may not suspend or terminate the employment of, or otherwise discriminate against a professional who makes a good faith report of abuse or neglect.  Family Code 261.110 [See DG]

INVESTIGATIONS BY TSBVI

Conducting Investigations

TSBVI shall make a prompt, thorough investigation of any report that a student has been, or may be, abused, neglected, or exploited, while at the School, or under the care of the School.  The primary purpose of the investigation shall be the protection of the student.
Family Code 261.003; 261.401(b), (d)

Investigative Reports

The School shall:

  1. Prepare and keep on file a complete written report of each investigation conducted by the School.
  2. Compile, maintain, and make available statistics on the incidence of student abuse, neglect, and exploitation investigated in the School.
  3. Report to the appropriate law enforcement agency evidence indicating that a student may have been abused, or neglected, if the School finds such evidence.

Family Code 261.402

Disclosure of Investigative Documents

The reports of alleged, or suspected, abuse, neglect, exploitation, or improper care, the identity of the person making such a report, and the files and reports, records, communications, audio tapes, video tapes and working papers used, or developed in an investigation, or in providing services as a result of
such investigation are confidential, and are not subject to public release under Chapter 552 Government Code.
Family Code 261.201(a); Human Resources Code 48.101

Exception: Release of Information

The Superintendent shall release information as required by Family Code 261.201(b), (b-1) and (c).
The Superintendent may release to the parent of a student, about whom a report of abuse or neglect has been made, information which otherwise would be confidential under Family Code 261.201(a) or Human Resources Code 48.101(b) when:

  1. In the Superintendent's judgment the release of the report is in the best interests of the student; and
  2. The student's parent is not the person reported to have abused or neglected the student.

When information is released under this policy, the following information shall be excised:

  1. The names and any other identifying information about all students, other than the student who was reported to have been abused or neglected;
  2. The name of the person making the report of abuse or neglect; and
  3. The names of all witnesses.

Family Code 261.201(a), Human Resources Code 48.101(b)

COMPLAINT

If the School receives a complaint relating to an investigation conducted by a TSBVI official, the complaint shall be referred to the Superintendent who will place the complaint before the School’s Board of Trustees.
Family Code 261.403(a), Human Resources Code 48.301(e)

EMPLOYEE TRAINING

As part of new employee orientation and annually thereafter, each employee shall receive training in the responsibilities associated with this policy and the implementing procedure.

DISTRIBUTION OF POLICY AND PROCEDURE

Each TSBVI employee shall receive a copy of this policy and its implementing procedure during new employee orientation and at the beginning of each school year, and shall sign a receipt so indicating.

INFORMATON FOR VOLUNTEERS AND INDIVIDUALS WORKING UNDER TSBVI AUSPICES

Any volunteer or individual working under the auspices of TSBVI shall receive training in the volunteer’s or individual’s reporting requirements under this policy and a copy of the policy prior to providing services to TSBVI and such individuals shall sign a receipt so indicating. 

REQUIRED POSTER

The School shall place a poster of the following specifications in the elementary and secondary instructional buildings in at least one high-traffic, highly and clearly visible public area that is readily accessible to and widely used by students. The poster must:

  1. Be in a format and language that is clear, simple, and understandable to students;
  2. Be in English and Spanish;
  3. Be 11 x 17 inches or larger;
  4. Be in large print and Braille. The Braille version can be a separate poster.
  5. Be placed at eye-level to the student for easy viewing; and
  6. Include the following information:
    1. The current toll-free DFPS Abuse Hotline telephone number (in bold print);
    2. Instructions to call 911 for emergencies; and
    3. Directions for accessing the DFPS website (http://www.txabusehotline.org) for more information on reporting abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
    4. Directions for contacting a TSBVI social worker.

Education Code 38.0042; 19 TAC 61.1051(e), (f)

PERIODIC REVIEW

The TSBVI Internal Auditor shall review this policy and the procedures implementing this policy a minimum of once every three years.  
Family Code 261.403(b)

BOARD POLICY and ANNUAL REVIEW

The Board adopts and shall annually review this policy for reporting child abuse and neglect.  The policy shall follow the requirements of Texas Family Code Chapter 261.  This policy does not require that school personnel report suspicion of child abuse or neglect to a school administrator before making a report to a local or state law enforcement agency or the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Hotline.  However, it is the policy of the Board that school personnel make an additional report to the School’s appointed Investigating Social Worker if the reporter chooses to make his or her initial report to one of the external agencies.  The sole purpose for this internal reporting requirement is the immediate safety of the student and must not in any way impede a thorough and timely investigation.  19 TAC 61.1051(a)

TSBVI COLLABORATION WITH OTHER STATE OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

TSBVI shall immediately notify the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency of any report that TSBVI receives, other than a report from a law enforcement agency, that concerns the suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child or the death of a child from abuse or neglect.

Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and law enforcement agencies that receive a report of alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a student when in the care of TSBVI shall notify the School so that it can initiate the required investigation. A state or local law enforcement agency may choose to conduct the investigation instead of TSBVI when there is reason to suspect criminal conduct has occurred.
Family Code 261.402(b)

Interview of Student

The investigating agency shall be permitted to interview the child at any reasonable time and place, including at the school.  Family Code 261.302(b)

Video or Audiotaping of Student Interview

Any interview of a student as part of an investigation of alleged or suspected physical or sexual abuse shall be recorded by video or audio devices.  The School shall do so in accord with Administrative Procedure P.1.7, “Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Improper Care:  Reporting and Investigating Suspected Student Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Improper Care.” Family Code 261

Interference with Investigation

A person may not interfere with the investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect conducted by DFPS. Family Code 261.303(a)

Confidentiality

A photograph, videotape, audiotape, or other audio or visual recording, depiction, or documentation of a child that is made in the course of an inspection or investigation is confidential, is not subject to release under the Texas Public Information Act, and may be released only as required by state or federal law or rules. Human Resources Code 42.004

CRIMINAL OFFENSES

Failure to Report Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation

A person commits a class A misdemeanor if the person is required to make a report under Family Code 261.101(a) and knowingly fails to make a report as provided by law.  A professional commits a state jail felony if he or she intended to conceal the abuse or neglect. Family Code 261.109; Human Resources Code 48.051, 48.052, 48.054

Failure to report child abuse or neglect violates the Educator's Code of Ethics and may result in sanctions against an educator's certificate, as addressed in 19 TAC Chapter 249.  19 TAC 61.1051(a)(2)(A)

Failure to Report Improper Child Care

Failure to report improper child care violates this Board’s policy.

TSBVI Response to Failure to Report Employee Subject to Disciplinary Action

Any TSBVI employee who does not report a belief of student abuse, neglect, exploitation, or improper child care in accordance with the provisions of this policy and TSBVI Administrative Procedure “Reporting and Investigating Suspected Student Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Improper Care” may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Removal from Service of Volunteer or Other Individual

Any TSBVI volunteer or individual working under the auspices of TSBVI who does not report a suspicion of student abuse, neglect, exploitation, or improper child care in accordance with the provisions of this policy may be immediately prohibited from providing further services to TSBVI.

False Report

A person commits an offense if, with the intent to deceive, the person knowingly makes a false report of abuse or neglect.  The offense is a state jail felony, except that it is a felony of the third degree if the person has previously been convicted of the offense.  Family Code 161.107(a)

Coercion

A public servant, including a school administrator, who coerces another into suppressing or failing to report child abuse or neglect to a law enforcement agency commits a class C misdemeanor offense.  Penal Code 39.06

Adopted:         2/9/79
Amended:       11/11/83, 10/25/85, 1/14/88, 6/1/89, 9/27/90, 3/26/93, 11/17/95, 9/25/98, 12/1/00, 11/22/02, 1/30/04, 11/19/04, 11/18/05, 1/26/07, 11/16/07, 11/20/09, 11/19/10, 11/18/11, 1/25/13, 1/31/14, 4/10/15, 4/8/16, 11/18/16, 4/7/17, 9/28/18
Reviewed: