By BARBARA GREEN
The separate arrests of two school principals in the Wichita Falls School District during the past two weeks on complaints of failure to report sexual assault of a minor has led to questions and discussion on the legal obligations school personnel and others have in reporting incidents involving minors.
The Kory Dorman, Wichita Falls Crockett Elementary principal, was arrested on Jan. 31 for failure to report- a Class A misdemeanor. The charge stems from a Dec. 15 alleged incident involving a seven-year-old boy whose grandparents said he had been assaulted by a fellow six-year-old student while in the bathroom. Principal. Dorman reportedly told police she delegated the responsibility of investigating these allegations to the school counselor.
The second arrest came on Feb. 5 when Cindy Underwood, principal at Kate Haynes Northwest Academy, was jailed on a similar charge of failing to report.
In Texas, anyone who suspects that a child is being abused or neglected has a legal obligation to report it.
Professional reporters are required to report allegations within 48 hours of first suspecting abuse or neglect. By law, professional may not delegate the duty to report to another person or entity or rely on another person or entity to make the report.
A professional reporter is anyone who is licensed or certified by the state or works for an agency or facility license or certified by the state and has contact with children as a result of their normal duties. This includes teachers, nurses, doctors, day-care workers, clinic or health care facility employees where reproductive services are provided, juvenile probation officers and juvenile detention or correction officers.
Denise Roberts, executive director of Patsy’s House Child Advocacy Center, said they are hoping to turn these arrests into educational opportunities.
“We hate that it happened like this, but if we can keep children at the front, make it about them, everyone can lear nsomething we are all better off in the end. Take this opportunity and move forward,” said Roberts.
Bowie Independent School District Superintendent Steven Monkres said the district conducts regular training programs on this topic.
The district is part of the Safe Schools program where each employee is required to train on modules available online before each school year starts. Principals and counselors also meet with the staff to further emphasize the laws and policies.
Monkres said the Wichita Falls incidents make everyone refocus their attention on those topics.
Read the full story in the weekend News.
Click below to follow the link to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services – Reporting Abuse/Neglect: A Guide for Professionals
Click below to follow a link to the Bowie Independent School District policies regard reporting possible child abuse.