In 2010, Connecticut’s Office of the Child Advocate and the Attorney General released the “Protecting Our Children” study to document the failures of Connecticut’s local Boards’ of Education when it came to reporting suspected child abuse. Within the study there was a call for stricter laws to govern the training of those school employees that were required to report suspected child abuse. Though subsequent laws were enacted in both 2011 and 2013, here in Stamford, a child abuse scandal has emerged that mirrors a great deal of the concerns reported four years earlier. This October, both the principal and assistant principal of Stamford High School were arrested for their failure to report a sexual relationship between a male student and female English teacher. This relationship had become common knowledge both within and outside the school, and the school officials who were arrested failed to follow the required reporting practices mandated by Connecticut state law.
The October arrests of Stamford High School administrators came after months of suspicion that a relationship was occurring between a Fairfield County teacher and her male student. Suspicions of the alleged sexual relationship were reported to the school by teachers, students, and a school security guard, as well as by one of the employees of the group home where the student resided. It is alleged that the school’s principal and vice principal had heard about the suspicious relationship as early as December 2013, and that they conducted their own investigation instead of reporting the abuse to Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) as required under Connecticut state law. While the school officials stated that they had reported their suspicions to the administrators at the office of the superintendent, the actual relationship was not reported to the DCF until June 2014. In fact the final reporting to the DCF occurred on the same day that it became known that the student’s group home counselor was aware of the alleged child abuse.
The 2010 Protecting Our Children Study
The situation at Stamford High was mired by multiple allegations that were ignored and not properly investigated by the school board. The handling of the situation mirrors the past shortcomings addressed in the 2010 Protecting Our Children Study. This study examined the five Connecticut school districts of Southington, New Haven, Westport, East Hartford and Bridgeport and reviewed over a 100 investigations that had been conducted during 2001 through 2009 by Connecticut’s DCF. The study found “serious concerns about how schools, DCF and the SDE respond to allegations that a school employee has abused or neglected a child.” It was revealed that the various school districts’ policies regarding suspected child abuse reporting were outdated, incorrect and not properly distributed to those school employees that the law mandated to report such abuse. Furthermore, “numerous examples” were discovered during which the various school districts vehemently discouraged reporting child abuse to the DCF and that many school district employees “expressed a reluctance to file reports due to a strong fear of retaliation.”
Child abuse by school employees represents a real risk to a family’s most vulnerable members. If you need assistance with child abuse claims or any other family law issues, contact one of our experienced Fairfield County family law attorneys here at our law firm today.