Opportunities for input are available from August 23, 2019, to September 23, 2019, on proposed amendment to 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 61 § 61.1051. The proposed amendment incorporates definitions; requires additional reporting under certain circumstances; details what must be included in policy addressing sexual abuse, trafficking, and other maltreatment of children; and describes training requirements for new employees and employees not previously trained.
The proposed amendment adds a new subsection defining child abuse or neglect, other maltreatment, and trafficking of a child to align with statute. The definition for “child abuse or neglect” includes the trafficking of a child in accordance with Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.004. The term “other maltreatment” has the meaning assigned by Human Resources Code §42.002. “Trafficking of a child” has the meaning as assigned by Texas Penal Code §20A.02(a)(5), (6), (7), or (8).
Additional Reporting and Policy Changes
The amended language in the additional reporting requirement changes from “who suspects child abuse or neglect” to “having cause to believe a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect” and should be reflected in policy. The word “suspicion” in this section also is replaced with “cause to believe.”
Additions to policy include the following requirements:
- Report to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services if the alleged abuse or neglect involves a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child.
- Adopt and implement a policy addressing sexual abuse, trafficking, and other maltreatment of children and be included in any informational handbook provided to student and parents and address the following:
- Methods for increasing staff, student, and parent awareness of issues regarding sexual abuse, trafficking, and other forms of maltreatment of children, including prevention techniques and knowledge of likely warning signs indicating that a child may be a victim;
- Actions a child who is a victim of sexual abuse, trafficking, or other maltreatment should take to obtain assistance and intervention; and
- Available counseling options for students affected by sexual abuse, trafficking, or other maltreatment.
- Provide for cooperation with law enforcement child abuse investigations without the consent of the child’s parent, if necessary, including investigation by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
- Include child abuse anti-victimization programs in elementary and secondary schools consisting of age-appropriate, research-based prevention designed to promote self-protection and prevent sexual abuse and trafficking.
The amendments for training requirements added in the 2014–2015 school year are removed and replaced with the following:
- Training concerning prevention techniques for, and recognition of, sexual abuse, trafficking, and all other maltreatment of children, including the sexual abuse, trafficking, and other maltreatment of children with significant cognitive disabilities, must be provided to all new school district and open-enrollment charter school employees and to existing school district and open-enrollment charter school employees not previously trained as required by TEC §38.0041.
- The training must include:
- Factors indicating a child is at risk for sexual abuse, trafficking, or other maltreatment;
- Warning signs indicating a child may be a victim of sexual abuse, trafficking, or other maltreatment;
- Internal procedures for seeking assistance for a child who is at risk for sexual abuse, trafficking, or other maltreatment, including referral to a school counselor, a social worker, or another mental health professional;
- Techniques for reducing a child’s risk for sexual abuse, trafficking, or other maltreatment; and
- Information on community organizations that have relevant research-based programs that are able to provide training or other education for school district or open-enrollment charter school staff, students, and parents.
- Each school district and open-enrollment charter school must maintain records that include the name of each staff member who participated in training.
- To the extent that resources are not yet available from the Texas Education Agency or commissioner of education, school district and open-enrollment charter schools shall implement the policies and trainings with existing or publicly available resources. The school district or open-enrollment charter school may also work in conjunction with a community organization to provide the training at no cost to the district or charter school.
A link to the form for submitting public comment may be found on the commissioner of education rules web page. The proposed effective date is November 24, 2019. Updates to policy will occur in 2020 once the amendment is adopted.
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at email@example.com.
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