By: C.Q. Wilder, M.Ed
August 29, 2014
So, you may be asking yourself, “What is a mandated reporter.” Also, you may be pondering the idea of how a mandated reporter can impact your home life or why do you even need to know. Well, let me explain a few things to do.
Every adult at your child’s school is considered a mandated reporter. Any teacher, admin, office personnel, leadership team member, teaching assistant, and so on are required, by law, to report any suspicious information to the Child Protective Services. A mandated reporter is a person who has observed any physical body injury, observed any behavior that is not common to children in school, (touching other students in inappropriate places, talking about sexual encounters, scared to be around familiar people, etc) or have witnessed a child that comes to school extremely dirty are required to call CPS and file a report.
I share this information for a number of reasons. As a former teacher now leadership team member at a public charter school in D.C., it is important to understand that the people at your child’s school are really out to support you, not call CPS. However, bringing your child to school dirty or wearing the same clothes all week could possibly result in a CPS phone call. Or, did you know that, depending on the state you may reside in, you are allowed to discipline using an open hand however, if it leaves a mark, that could be a potential CPS phone call or if you close your hand and make a fist, that this form could be illegal. Also, threatening your child on school property could result in a CPS phone call or coming to pick up your child drunk or under any influence of any drug.
Many parents don’t realize that most schools have funds set aside to provide support when it comes to purchasing uniforms or other items. Don’t let a phone call from CPS be the first time you tell your child’s teacher or the admin of the school that you don’t have access to a washer/dryer. From my own personal experience, I have bought soap, shoes, and food (plus many more items) for families that could not afford them. I would do this out of the kindness of my heart but also because I am with these children 8 hours a day and have made investments in these children by teaching them, feeding them, and making sure they are safe at school.
I am not suggesting that you now go to your child’s teacher and give them a list of items you need bought. I am also not suggesting that if CPS is called, to find out who called them. Whoever reports anything to CPS will have their identify protected unless they are called into court but the filing information would not be disclosed.
I do suggest that if you or your family are experiencing hard times, inform the teacher or school staff. Let these people know immediately because funds can run low depending on the school district and it’s better to inform early than late.
In conclusion, don’t be afraid of the mandated reporter. Understand that school is a safe place and the people who work there wouldn’t be doing their due justice if they didn’t report any behavior or activities that could be negatively effecting your child. Again, the staff are on your side as long as you are forthcoming and let them in!