Trustees clear up student welfare policy

Oconee school trustees have taken a first step to tighten the district’s policy on student welfare—as it pertains to how and when child abuse and neglect should be reported to authorities. The trustees last night gave first reading approval to revising the policy by requiring principals and other district employees to make reports to law enforcement agencies or to the department of social services. The current policy reads that principals and others may make such reports. The word “may” is being deleted and replaced with the word “must.” The change comes two months after a Seneca elementary principal was arrested and charged with the misdemeanor offense of “failure of certain persons to report child abuse or neglect.” The policy requires district employees to follow these reporting procedures: “School personnel who suspect child abuse or neglect may make a report in good faith. It is not the responsibility of school personnel to provide that the child has been abused or neglected, or to make a determination of whether the child is in need of protection. Any involvement of school personnel in investigation or treatment should be in conjunction with law enforcement or the local child protection unit of the department of social services.”