Crisis Management Protocol
(Suicide Ideation, Child Abuse, and Neglect)
The District adheres to the reporting child abuse requirements found in O.C.G.A §§ 19-7-5 and 20-2-751.7 (“mandatory reporting”), as well as the Professional Standards Commission’s state mandated reporter process for students, volunteers, and employees to follow when reporting instances of abuse or neglect, including alleged inappropriate sexual or abusive behavior by another school employee.
Any student who has been the victim at school event, home or any location of an act of abuse, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, neglect or other inappropriate behavior by a teacher, administrator or other school system employee is urged to make a report of the act to any teacher, counselor or administrator at his/her school. Any parent/guardian or friend of a student who becomes aware a student has been the victim of abuse is also urged to make a report directly to DFCS.
Crises can occur before, during, or after school.
What is the purpose of the mandatory reporting law?
The Georgia law mandates reports of suspected child abuse by school employees. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(a) states that its purpose is to provide for the protection of children. Mandatory reporting of abuse is intended “to cause the protective services of the state to be brought to bear on the situation”. Finally, it states that the law “shall be liberally construed so as to carry out the[se] purposes”.
What is child abuse?
Child abuse includes, but is not limited to, physical injury; death; neglect; exploitation; sexual abuse and sexual exploitation (including prostitution or sexually explicit conduct); verbal, psychological, or emotional abuse. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5.
To whom do these requirements apply?
All District employees and volunteers are mandatory reporters under the law.
Anyone “employed by or volunteering at a business or an organization, whether public, private, for profit, not for profit, or voluntary, that provides care, treatment, education, training, supervision, coaching, counseling, recreational programs, or shelter to children” is a mandatory reporter. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(b)(5).
When does the report have to be made?
A report of suspected abuse or neglect, “shall be made immediately, but in no case later than 24 hours from the time there is reasonable cause to believe that suspected child abuse has occurred. When a report is being made by electronic submission, it shall be done in the manner specified by the Division. Oral reports shall be followed by a later report in writing, if requested, to a child welfare agency providing protective services or, in the absence of such agency, to an appropriate police authority or district attorney.” O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(e).
What are the penalties for failure to report or an untimely report?
In addition to professional repercussions, such as termination of employment, a person required to report a suspected case of child abuse who knowingly and willfully fails to do so shall be guilty of a criminal misdemeanor. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(h).
What does the law say about how to make report?
If danger is imminent, call DFCS and if no answer, or if no oral report is taken, call 911.
If a person is required to report child abuse, “that person shall notify the person in charge of the facility, or the designated delegate thereof, and the person so notified shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with this Code section. An employee or volunteer who makes a report to the person designated pursuant to this paragraph shall be deemed to have fully complied with this subsection.” O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5.
The Principal/Head of Schools, or designee “may be consulted prior to the making of a report and may provide any additional, relevant, and necessary information when making the report”; however, under no circumstances shall any person, including the Principal or designee, “exercise any control, restraint, modification, or make other change to the information provided by the reporter”. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5.
How does an employee report abuse?
As discussed above, Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) must be immediately notified, but in no case later than 24 hours; from the time there is reasonable cause to believe a child has been abused. All District employees and volunteers are mandated reporters.
- Contact the person in charge of the facility or his/her designee.
- If the designee is not available, the mandated reporter shall make the report on his/her own.
In addition, the principal or person in charge should be informed of the report.
The District employee should not call the student at home and ask about the suspected abuse; nor make any contact with any member of the student’s family unless the contact is with another student and is necessary to determine if reasonable cause exists to report this student may also be a victim of abuse. Asking for more information than is necessary to make a DFCS referral may have negative repercussions on the student and the ability of law enforcement to handle the matter.
How does a volunteer report abuse?
- Immediately call DFCS to verbally report information.
- Report the call to the person in charge of the facility or designee immediately, but in no case less than 24 hours from the time there is reasonable cause to believe a child has been abused.
- The Principal/Head of Schools, or person in charge of the facility will complete written mandated reporter report.
How do reporters know who the school or facility designee will be?
Each year, the person in charge of the school or facility is required to appoint a designee or designees (i.e. school administrators, school counselors, school social worker, etc.). The identities of designees should be communicated to all school employees and to the appropriate Level Assistant Superintendent. At least one designee should be on the premises of the facility during the business hours of the facility.
What is the role of the designee?
The person in charge of the facility or the designee will assist reporters, including volunteers and staff, with reports to DFCS as discussed above.
However, under no circumstances will the person in charge of the designee, “exercise any control, restraint, modification, or make other change to the information provided by the reporter” but he or she “may provide any additional, relevant, and necessary information when making the report.”
Therefore, the person in charge of the facility cannot advise a staff member that there is not reasonable cause to believe a child has been abused, but can add additional information to the report being made to DFCS to assist DFCS in their understanding of the matter.
What type of confirmation will the mandated reporter receive?
Within 24 hours of a school employee making a report of suspected child abuse, DFCS shall acknowledge, in writing, the receipt of the report to the reporting individual. Within five (5) days of completing the investigation of the suspected child abuse, DFCS shall disclose, in writing, to the school social worker, school counselor, principal for the school such child was attending at the time of the reported child abuse, advising as to whether the suspected child abuse was confirmed or unfirmed.
What if an employee is the suspected abuser?
If a student has been allegedly abused by a district employee, the mandated reporter will immediately inform the principal or person in charge of the facility and follow the DFCS Protocol. Additionally, the following departments should also be notified with 24 hours:
- Department of Professional Standards and Ethics, AND
- Department of Public Safety
What if the situation involves an emergency or a suicidal ideation?
If danger is imminent, call 911.
- Contacting Emergency Medical Services (EMS)/911 in Connection with Abuse Reporting:
- Contact Local District Public Safety; and then
- If parent not at site, notify the parent/guardian the student has been transported to the hospital, explain the physical reasons for transporting the student (i.e., the student was complaining of dizziness and you fear a possible brain concussion) but DO NOT indicate that child abuse is the suspected cause of the injury.
- Contacting Prevention/Intervention in Connection with Suicidal Ideations:
- If the student is expressing suicidal ideations in connection with an abuse situation, the school should call 911 and follow the Suicidal and Homicidal Ideation flowchart.
What about children who are home alone?
If you have concerns regarding a student being home alone, make an immediate referral to your School Social Worker.
What if I need additional assistance or have questions?
- If an employee or volunteer is unsure whether a report is required, the person in charge of the facility or his/her designee may assist the staff member or volunteer with consultation. If the employee develops reasonable cause to believe that a report should be made (whether or not DFCS agrees), the process outlined above will be immediately followed. Should you have any questions or concerns about a DFCS report that has been made, contact School Social Worker or School Counseling Director to assist you.
Are child abuse reports confidential?
Yes. All reports of child abuse are confidential expect as provided by law. Section (i) provides for confidentiality, as does O.C.G.A. § 49-5-40(b) Reports of child abuse are not generally subject to public inspection, and “each and every record concerning reports of child abuse is declared to be confidential”, and access is prohibited by O.C.G.A. § 49-5-40(b), except as specifically provided by law.
NO information about child abuse reporting is to be placed in the student’s file or record. The school is not to make any parent/guardian contact regarding the reporting of possible abuse, regardless of the agency that comes to the school to interview the student.
What if a parent/guardian confronts the school about a suspected report?
School staff cannot confirm any information about reports of child abuse. Records or information regarding the referral shall not be released to the parent/guardian (O.C.G.A. § 49-5-40).
Any employee that believes that DFCS or any other agency has revealed his or her identity should report it to his/her Principal or Head of Schools, who will report it to the School Social Work Department. An investigation of such breach of confidentiality may be requested from DFCS, as well as written confirmation of the resolution of the matter from DFCS.
Is the reporter protected?
Yes. Any person or entity participating in the making of a report or causing a report to be made is “immune from any civil or criminal liability, provided such participation pursuant to this Code section or any other law is made in good faith.” O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5(f).
Will school personnel be trained regarding reporting?
All school personnel who have contact with students shall receive training in the identification and reporting of student abuse and neglect with annual updates in the form of memoranda, directives or other written information. Schools shall provide an in-service to all school employees, including classified employees, on the child abuse protocol and mandated reporter laws, including signs and symptoms of possible abuse, within the first month of each school year. DFCS requests they be notified of opportunities to have a representative attend to answer questions.
- The child abuse training video is the one used by the DOE and can be found on the link below.
- Mandated Reporter Handouts are attached
- Teachers/Staff also had to sign a Mandated Reporter acknowledgement that stated the following: “By signing off on this training, I understand that I am a mandated reporter in the state of Georgia and are aware of the process and procedure for reporting suspected child abuse.”
For Immediate Crisis of suicidal ideation or child abuse during school hours (Mon – Fri 8:00 am- 4:00 pm) contact grade level Family Resource Coordinator (FRC)\School Social Worker by phone, Lync or email immediately (contact information below). Staff Members should speak with FRC\School Social Worker assigned to your grade level. If your School FRC is unavailable please reach out to another School FRC\School Social Worker for support with situations needing immediate support.
- For Immediate Crisis after school hours contact:
» Georgia (Suicide) Crisis Line - mygcal.com/ or 1-800-715-4225
» Georgia Child Abuse Reporting: Call in report to 1-855-422-4453 within 24 hours and complete Mandated Reporter Form. Once confirmation email is received, forward the completed Mandated Reporter Form and confirmation email to your School FRC\School Social Worker (contact information below).
» Or call 911
Referral for Crisis Support:
- After contacting the Georgia Suicide Crisis Line, all documentation should be placed in the Infinite Campus (IC) Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) Contact Log and referral must be created in the Family Academic Support Team (FAST) Referral Tab. The Staff member should then follow up with an email to the FRC\School Social Worker.
- FRC\School Social Worker will follow up during school hours or the next school day. The FRC\School Social Worker will document in IC.
- To make a referral for a crisis, GCA staff members must create a new referral in Infinite Campus under the FAST tab then click FAST referral and place your referral for Suicidal Ideation or Child Abuse. FRC/School Social Workers are required to check Infinite Campus daily for all crisis.