Thursday, November 10, 2011

The "Numb Nuts" At The DOE Adds More Responsibility & Paperwork To Teachers By Now Requiring Them To Report Child Abuse Directly To ACS.

The "numb nuts" at the DOE has added yet more responsibility and paperwork and possibly putting teachers "at risk" by now requiring that teachers report any suspicion of child abuse directly to New York City Administration for Children Services (ACS). While teachers have always been "Mandated Reporters" when it came to suspicion of child abuse, it was the Guidance Counselors who did the interview and determined if ACS should be informed. Remember, Guidance Counselors are trained to talk to the students about potential abuse not teachers. Therefore, it made sense to let the trained personnel to interview the student and make the proper assessment whether to bring in the ACS investigator.

Now the DOE has decided that untrained and unqualified teachers should do the initial oral report, get a call ID number, and file a written report (LDSS 2221-A) within 72 hours of suspected child abuse or neglect. Furthermore, this report includes the name, title, and contact information of every staff person who is believed to have direct knowledge of the allegations in the report. The DOE then threatens teachers by claiming that failure to report suspect child abuse could result in disciplinary action.

While I understand we must protect children from abuse and neglect, many teachers are not qualified to evaluate child abuse. We are not trained in identifying abuse or neglect, except for taking a three hour course, that may have been taken a decade ago. By contrast Guidance Counselors are trained to evaluate abuse and neglect and their offices are set up for privacy, a phone on their desk, and time to talk to children one-on-one. By contrast, when can teachers make time to talk to the child one-on-one? Unlike Guidance Counselors, teachers have no private offices with phones and have classroom duties. Teachers work in rooms with up to 34 students and privacy is not available to many of them. Worse, even if you can find the private area to speak to the student when does the teacher have the time to call ACS and write a written report? At home? during lunch? Maybe during the weekend but you better do it within 72 hours or else!

I can only say that the "numb nuts" at the DOE obviously didn't think this out and have not only increased teacher responsibility and paperwork but puts those very teachers "at risk" for disciplinary action if they fail to detect abuse or neglect because they are not trained in identifying these in children. I hope the union can convince the DOE that this is unsound policy and that the DOE should let the experts, the Guidance Counselors determine whether students are being abused or neglected not teachers. Their job is hard enough without he extra responsibility and paperwork associated with this unfair and unfortunate change in reporting child abuse and neglect.


Anonymous said...

another way to say "gotcha" to teachers

Ms. Tsouris said...

Yes and another way to blame teachers for the awful living conditions that some of their students endure. I'm still trying to figure out what guidance counselors, with their private offices, individual desks, phones, computers, comfortable chairs, and air conditioning do with their time since guidance and counseling are not their primary responsibilities.

Jeff Kaufman said...

Sorry, Chaz, as much as I concur with your numb nuts characterization of the DOE this one is actually a correction of an illegal prior policy. State law mandates that teachers (not reps, not guidance counselors, not principals) directly report child abuse, an outgrowth of the Steinberg and Alysa Izquierdo cases. The DOE's prior policy was in clear contravention of the law. If you disagree with the reporting requirement your beef is with the Legislature. I for one think we should mandatorally report. If college football coaches were mandatory reporters perhaps the abuse would have ended 15 years ago at Penn State and Joe Paterno could still be a coach.

Anonymous said...

This is a matter that should be brought directly to the attention of Chancellor Walcott and PEP as a request for a change to the Chancellor's Regulations.

If there is no response, or an unsatisfactory response, an Education Law § 310 appeal may be filed with the Commissioner of Education in Albany within thirty days.

veteran teacher said...

I'd rather make the phone call myself. How many administrators, guidance counselors etc sweep it all under rug?

Chaz said...


I was also told that the prior DOE policy was in violation of State Law. However, the State law needs to be changed.

Remember, Joe Paterno has a private office and a telephone, teachers don't. To dump us with the responsibility and paperwork is unfair to the teachers. Also if we fail to see any abuse then you could be brought up on disciplinary charges by the DOE.

Change the law.

Moriah Untamed said...

The threat of child abuse allegations have been used to get parents to allow their children to be grilled by DOE investigators (SCI).

I think that we will eventually find out that many of these investigations resulted in false statements. Children can be manipulated very easily. I will be publishing the story of just such a case shortly.

One of the Many said...

Of tremendous concern is that this regulation (is it city or state?) puts another boulder in the way of parents and teacher becoming the natural allies they ought to be. Bloomberg's model of control either carried out by the Tweedie birds, Networks, Principals, UFT or the police department refuses to recognize the essential factors that racism, classism, cross-cultural misunderstandings and lack of TRUST play in educational outcomes for our children.

I agree that teachers should report if they have seen something suspicious, but being responsible for direct contact with ACS is OUTRAGEOUS. Social workers, guidance counselors and the "trained" team of money-grubbers from the Networks should take the teacher's report, do an emergency assessment and be responsible for contacting ACS if it's warranted.

I make no excuses for bad parents. Those that abuse and neglect their offspring are despicable. Their behavior needs to be spotted as soon as possible so the children are rescued, the family held accountable and helped.

Sad fact is, teachers and schools also abuse and neglect. Maybe not in the same way parents do, but horrible things DO happen inside schools. The lasting effect of educational neglect or abuse by teachers--(not in a sexual way because that does seem to get attention) but in the not so subtle forms of abuse like constant screaming, demeaning, emotionally destructive language, unfairness, favoritism, etc. is hurtful, especially to majority poor and children of color who may not have the support systems they need to overcome it. What happens to many of them in our NYC schools is almost as terrible to their futures as is coming from an abusive home.

Also, grieving a complaint to the DoE or the police is not so easy a thing for a parent who recognizes teacher abuse or school neglect. And since there is ACS to call on parents, there should also be a “trigger” agency to call on teachers and the schools. But no teacher would want that—just as we parents don’t want teachers calling ACS on us!

Contacting ACS is a wickedly powerful tool in the wrong hands. All too often it can be used as a weapon against “problem” parents who are strongly opposed to a school's policies, or may be having trouble with their kid's teacher. It’s wrong on so many levels to make teachers spy on parents as part of their job, especially since so many are cultural foreigners in the communities where they work. The Anglo standard of "good parenting" does not one-size-fit all. I have come across many parents in my community of color who are afraid to discipline their own children because of ACS. As early as kindergarten, children are talking back to their parents after being told in school what their parents can't do. Little angry munchkins are actually threatening to tell on Mommie or Daddy so that the teacher will call ACS on them. What may look or sound like neglect or abuse in the home may be nothing of the sort, yet once ACS is called-- the parent can lose their job because of court dates and social service investigations, all to find nothing. That just makes matters worse-- both at home, and between parents and teachers.

Fear and humiliation are tactical weapons of the system of educational control we live under. They are NO WAY to change the status quo of bad parent/teacher relationships and terrible learning outcomes. Yet ACS is to Parents what the Rubber Room was to Teachers.

Surely, TOGETHER, all of us smart and caring adults can up with a better method of protecting children, their homes and educations from abuse and neglect than making teachers and parents any more distrustful of one another.

If anyone is willing to work with The Mothers' Agenda NY on a better solution for protecting children than what the DoE is forcing on teachers, please contact us thru our website:

Jeff Kaufman said...


I can't believe that the lack of a telephone for teachers would act as a barrier to stand in the way of making a teacher responsible for reporting child abuse. The sad fact is that we don't adequately protect our children. Teachers are often the last hope that a child may have.

As the Paterno story unfolds it is becoming clear that Penn State officials feared loss of alumni funds greater than stopping and preventing child rape.

If we can't pick up a phone a call in a case and fill out a one page document who the hell are we?

Chaz said...


What you say is true but we workin the bazarro world of the DOE. However, any interaction with students can put a teacher "at risk" for DOE discipline. Many of us have been falsely accused by the DOE and sent to the rubber room because we reached out to a student.

Maybe you don't care what the DOE does to you but I will never let the DOE put me in that position again and unless I am 100% sure, I will not be the one reporting it.

veteran teacher said...

It us unfortunate that we have to think this way, but I agree with chaz, before doing anything, you must be 100 percent sure or see something take place with your own two eyes.

I will tell you from experience that things aren't always 'anonymous' with the DOE. This is as chaz said, bizarro world. The DOE sits at Tweed and says 'what makes sense?' and then does the opposite.

Betsy Combier said...

The new mandate is a result of the "Gotcha Squad" giving themselves another way to pursue a target (defined as an individual the administration, Superintendent, custodian, janitor, etc., doesnt like/want in the school anymore) and charge something against him or her. I have collected mountains of transcripts from 3020-a cases, and a tenured employee will be charged if he/she did not report suspected child abuse, or did report it. The basis for the charges is often - not always - made up, and the charging agents use whatever version of the report/no report they want. I suggest that all teachers write the supervisors in the school and obtain in writing exactly what they are supposed to do in situations that are not clear, like there is no direct evidence.