Monday, February 16, 2009

MI: Staff didn't file abuse allegations

Sunday, February 15, 2009
The Ann Arbor News

No member of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District's staff reported allegations of child abuse by a teacher's aide to either the local police or the state's Department of Human Services, a district internal investigation found.

"Under the Child Protection Act school personnel have a duty to report all instances of suspected child abuse,'' the report said. "No report was filed by any of the staff who witnessed the conduct referenced in the police investigation.''

A spokeswoman with the Department of Human Services declined to comment on whether her department had any contact from the WISD about the allegations. She also would not comment on whether the WISD broke the law.

Any investigation into that question would come from the county's prosecutor's office, Zoe Lyons, the manager of the state's Child Protective Services program, said in a telephone interview.

WISD Superintendent Bill Miller said no one is investigating the district for any possible violations of the state law.

The law is clear about who has to report suspicions of child abuse and what they have to do, Lyons said.

The law requires all school personnel to report child abuse. People in certain other professions, including health-care workers, are also considered "mandatory reporters'' under the law.

Mandatory reporters have to immediately contact the state when they suspect child abuse. If the allegations concern school personnel, those allegations are turned over to the local police for investigation, Lyons said.

"A lot of times, people report things to both the state and the police,'' Lyons said.

Failing to report child abuse is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 93 days and a fine of $500.

Miller would not directly answer questions about whether WISD employees violated the act.

"District policies about reporting were not followed,'' he said.

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