By Richard Wingerden of the Law Offices of Richard Wingerden posted in State Law.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that a former Morgan Hill teacher, John Loyd, 53, of Hollister, was sentenced on October 5, 2015, to 40 years in prison for sexually molesting four fifth-grade girls. Mr. Loyd was sentenced by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Edward Lee after he pleaded no contest to four felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child by force, violence, duress or fear. This case has prompt the victims’ parents to seek a law requiring training for educators in how to recognize predatory behavior.
California law requires teachers to be mandatory reporters, along with more than 40 other classifications of professionals, to report suspected child neglect or abuse to law enforcement, probation department, or county welfare department. According to Penal Code section 11166, a mandated reporter must make a report “whenever the mandated reporter, in his or her professional capacity or within the scope of his or her employment, has knowledge of or observes a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect.” Reasonable suspicion means that it is “objectively reasonable for a person to entertain a suspicion, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person in a like position, drawing, when appropriate, on his or her training and experience, to suspect child abuse or neglect.” The statute does not, however, address what level of training is required
Pursuant to Penal Code section 11165.7, the requirement of training for mandatory reporters is as follows: “[E]mployers are strongly encouraged to provide their employees who are mandated reporters with training in the duties imposed by this article. This training shall include training in child abuse and neglect identification and training in child abuse and neglect reporting.” Whether or not employers provide their employees with training, they are still required to provide them information regarding this statute. Furthermore, “…school districts, county offices of education, state special schools and diagnostic centers operated by the State Department of Education, and charter schools shall annually train their employees and persons working on their behalf… in the duties of mandated reporters under the child abuse reporting laws. The training shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, training in child abuse and neglect identification and child abuse and neglect reporting.” Regarding public and private organizations, they are, “encouraged to provide their volunteers whose duties require direct contact with and supervision of children with training in the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect.”
If a mandated reporter fails to report an incident, they can be charged with a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in the county jail or by a fine of one thousand dollars or by both that imprisonment and fine.