You had to make a report to child protective services (CPS) regarding one of your students.
You explain you don’t want to meet with the parents as you think you can better protect the confidentiality of your student and yourself if you aren’t forced to answer their questions.
The principal still requires you to meet with these high-profile, high-powered parents. Educators play a critical role in reporting child abuse, and federal and state laws are written to protect the educator’s role in reporting.
Although every state has its own unique statute for child abuse reporting, all states have two important commonalities: 1) all states require school counselors to report child abuse; and, 2) all states provide educators immunity from criminal and civil liability in good-faith reporting. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (DHHS) and federal legislation Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), educators have more access to students than most other professionals, and educators are the reporters of more than half the child abuse complaints.
Why do our lawmakers go to such lengths to protect school counselors? Legislators recognize the vital role educators play in intervention and prevention of child abuse, and therefore, logically even if not legally, educators should not have to face the alleged perpetrator.
Let’s unpack this case to see if legal as well as logic can prevail in supporting this school counselor.
A typical state statute says a child abuse report is confidential, the reporter is to remain confidential, the reporter is not to be held criminally or civilly liable for good-faith reporting, an employer cannot hinder the employee reporting, and the reporter’s employer cannot discriminate or retaliate against the reporter.State statutes vary, so check to see if your state’s statute has all of these elements.Here is an example of state protection for reporters: No employer shall discharge, discriminate or retaliate against a mandated reporter who, in good faith, files a report, testifies or is about to testify in any proceeding involving child abuse or neglect.Any employer who discharges, discriminates or retaliates against that mandated reporter shall be liable to the mandated reporter for treble damages, costs and attorney's fees.The meeting may well be the principal’s attempt to repair some relationship damage with the parents or assuage the anger of these high-profile parents.Regardless of the motive for the meeting, the principal has stepped on the spirit if not the actual word of confidentiality for mandated reporters, who are to be protected and not subjected to having to justify their report or breach the victim’s confidence.