Beware of your protections as a mandated reporter

Discussion in 'General Education' started by scmom, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Oct 28, 2010

    Do you think you have confidentiality as a mandated reporter? Think again. We were confronted today by a screaming parent, threatening to sue us, because CPS had told her exactly what we had said, and even gave her a written report with our names!!!! It was an ugly, ugly situation.

    When I called the worker to say, "what the heck" she said we had assumed confidentiality she never told us we had. When I said we were mandated reporters so we had to answer the questions she asked us during our interviews, she said it was part of a court case (which she hadn't told us) so it was open record for the judge and defendants. The report even had our words in quotations marks, like direct quotes, even when she wasn't taking notes when she interviewed us. She also didn't mention any of the positive things we said, only the negative.

    I then talked to her supervisor who said the worker was trained to tell us it wasn't confidentail because we weren't the primary reporters. We were corollary witnesses during an investigation so we had no protection of confidentiality. She was sure her worker had told us that and we just didn't understand. Hell, no for all 7 of us! I asked her why the heck any teacher would cooperate with an investigation if we had no protection and she said it was our responsibility to protect children. What about protecting us from the crazy person who confronted us today? What about protecting our families? What about the fact I would never want to cooperate with a CPS worker again if they don't respect my confidentiality?

    Supposedly our owner finally talked to the supervisor's boss who said the worker had violated the law (too late now!) by not telling us we didn't have confidentiality and she would be reprimanded (big whoop!). I am going to follow-up with this because I want to know exactly what protections I have (obviously not as many as I thought I had). I have taken the mandated reporting class and they never told us anything like this.

    What are your thoughts? How do you think I should proceed?
     
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  3. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Oct 28, 2010

    How terrible. And how infinitely terrible for the poor children involved.
     
  4. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Oct 29, 2010

    Woah, I see a lot of situations (& not just w/ education) where what's good has become bad & what's bad is good these days. It's a real shame.

    I always told myself that when I'm a permanent teacher, I'll definitely get educator's insurance. I wonder what having ins would do in this type of situation.

    An example of a type of educator's insurance:
    http://www.aaeteachers.org/
     
  5. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Oct 29, 2010

    I have taken several classes on reporting, and have always been told it was confidential. I would do some reserach on the regulations as they pertain to your state.
     
  6. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    State laws also say we have confidentiality but the state law does not differentiate between the initial reporter and subsequent reporters during an investigation. CPS is trying to say only the initial reporter gets confidentiality. I will pursue this and let everyone know but the repurcusions are scary for both children and teachers and other reporters. I talked to a director of another school last night who has had the same thing happen to her.
     
  7. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Oct 29, 2010

    If somebody is being accused of a crime, they have a constitutional right to see the witnesses who testify against them.

    Most states extend these protections to people who are in court proceeding to have their children taken away from them.
     
  8. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Oct 29, 2010

    Just remember when you are reporting you have the RIGHT to tell CPS that you fear for your life therefore you NEED to remain anonymous. I would just say this no matter what even if you "think" the parent wouldn't go off on you.
     
  9. Ranchwife

    Ranchwife Companion

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    Oct 29, 2010

    In my yearly California CPS training, it is made perfectly clear that there is no confidentiality for the reporter. You are protected under a law (right now I can't remember the name of it) from being sued by the person/s who the claim was filed against. It also protects you from being harrassed by the reported parties. If the reported party sues, or harrasses the reporter, the law is on your side and you are protected. I wish I remembered the name of the law and am sorry that I don't.
     
  10. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Oct 29, 2010

    Sarge,

    I agree in theory but....

    -we were not accusing her of a crime. They just asked us questions about the children - nothing was a crime although what they were originally accused of was, so they wanted to get background info. and follow up on the children's care, cleanliness, behavior, etc.

    -they are supposed to inform us it was not protected and give us the option of talking to them or not - they didn't do that so we assumed confidentiality
     
  11. Ms.Science

    Ms.Science Rookie

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    Oct 29, 2010

    This happens a lot. I know a teacher who was stalked and harassed at her home by two angry parents. This has happened twice to the same teacher. (She works with at risk students.) The police told the parents her name one of the times.
     
  12. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Oct 29, 2010

    I see TWO things here.......


    1 - Confidentiality Protection for Reporting - (This is NOT the OP's situation.) When you voluntarily report to the DHS (or whomever), you are NOT required to give your name. You can report it without telling them who you are and simply document who/when you reported to meet your obligations. This protects you, but is NOT admissible as court evidence. It only tips off the agency to investigate.

    2 - Compelled Reporting to an Investigator - When an investigator shows up asking questions (especially questions that are given in deposition under sworn testimony), the accused has a right to know who you are and what you said. Your testimony is evidence in a criminal proceeding. You are obligated to answer these questions unless you want to claim 5th amendment protections which brings on all sorts of complications that you REALLY don't want unless you fear being prosecuted for a crime of your own.


    While the investigator described by the OP "should" have advised her of the disclosure as stated by the investigator's boss, there is no legal requirement for the investigator to do so. The investigator doesn't represent the witness and has no obligation to provide legal council to the witness. In most situations, investigators are told NOT to do so as telling you something that is wrong opens them up to suit while telling you nothing at all keeps them safe.

    In short, investigators are there to conduct an investigation and doing anything else could put them at risk.
     
  13. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Oct 29, 2010

    Supposed to by whom? The laws of your State or their employer?


    You have grounds for a civil suit in either account, but you're unlikely to win unless it is required by law or you suffer some SERIOUS damages.
     
  14. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Oct 30, 2010

    By state and federal law. In California breaking confidentiality is subject to a $500 fine and/or 6 months in jail.
     
  15. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    I think in this case Muttling, she is dealing with state laws that are very different from the ones we fall under. You teach out in Middle TN right? I was told that the same thing as you that if I report but do not give my name then the report is not admissible in court. The I was told by a friend (an assistant DA) that nine times out of ten DHS puts anonymous tips at the bottom of the stack and seldom does much with them at least out here the Northeast mountain country. You guys closer to Nashville may have more DHS staff then our offices do. I have made it a personal policy to report and take personal responsibility for the report. If I am wrong... well I have big shoulders and can bear the burden... If I am right then the kid gets help faster and hopefully things get better for them.
    I feel that of you believe you right about the kid being in danger you should have the courage to stand by your accusations. Others may disagree and I would be interested in those points of view.
     
  16. Momma C

    Momma C Comrade

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    Oct 31, 2010

    In our district, we go through the counselor. She personally talks with the kid and then reports it - regardless of what the kid says. She makes the report based on teacher recommendation. I always follow up with the counselor. Also, each time DHS talks with the teacher. As far as confidentiality, I'll tell the parent myself, if need be, that I was the one to make the initial report. Luckily, I have only had to do this 2 or 3 times during my career.
     
  17. moonbeamsinajar

    moonbeamsinajar Habitué

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    Oct 31, 2010

    That has happened several times here. The Children and Youth Worker told the families who reported them. It really makes me angry when they do that. We even tried reporting on the Child Abuse Hotline, and they still required us to give our names, even though that was supposed to be anonymous too.
     
  18. Kate Change

    Kate Change Companion

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    Nov 1, 2010

    We have been told the same thing in our district and in one case, I have refused point blank to give my name. I know of a teacher who had issues with the parent after the police told them that she was the one who reported. I think we need to be told the truth by the people who are asking for our reports. If our reports are mandated, then we also need to be protected.
     
  19. shimeixiaoxiao

    shimeixiaoxiao New Member

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    Nov 1, 2010

    they are supposed to inform us it was not protected and give us the option of talking to them or not - they didn't do that so we assumed confidentiality
    Reply With Quote
     
  20. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Nov 1, 2010

    Hmm.... if you don't give your name, how can you show you fulfilled your duty as a mandated reporter? Dial from your home phone and keep the bill or something? Have witnesses if it ever becomes necessary? Maybe record the date, time and the name of the person you reported it to...

    If you do report anonymously, it might be a good idea to consider these issues. Also, to check the law to see that reporting anonymously fulfills your duty as a mandated reporter.
     
  21. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    In California mandated reporters have to give their name to CPS - the general public can be anonymous - but we are still supposed to have confidentiality except to certain organization unless we waive it.

    Some previous posters have said something about not being afraid to have their names out there, but when you are dealing with unstable druggies who could become violent it is scary not just for the teachers, but for the other children who could be there when they "go off."
     
  22. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I reported a mother three years ago. She showed up at school and marched past the office to my room where she threatened me. I never admitted that I reported her, but I pointed out that if I had she wasn't helping her case by yelling, threatening, or cussing at me in a school. I then told her that I would be calling DHS to report our "meeting." In the state of Oklahoma, threatening a teacher carries a fine and possible jail time. I shared that with her and told her she had five minutes to leave the building or I was pressing charges. She stormed out. By that time, the secretary had been told and she was on her way to my room. I reported a case (more than once) where the girlfriend worked as a police dispatcher. She ran my name through the computer and got my address. The dad told me he knew where I lived...I informed him, I knew where he lived and my husband was an excellent shot. He might want to loose my address. He never bothered me. Most bullies back down when someone stands up to them.
     
  23. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Nov 1, 2010

    ha ha ha love it!!!
     

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