SCASD to Consider Child Sexual Abuse Policy Revisions

SCASD to Consider Child Sexual Abuse Policy Revisions

When the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke, the school district wanted to hear from employees about mandatory reporting concerns.
STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - The State College Area school board will discuss proposed changes Monday night to its student sexual abuse reporting policy.

The district has been reviewing its standards since the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke in early November. The school district wants to clarify who has to report child abuse and how it's done. The proposed changes aren't part of the child abuse reporting policy, which has been under review.

When the scandal broke in Pennsylvania, the school district wanted to hear from employees about mandatory reporting concerns. This was done to make sure there are no reporting failures in the district.

"By doing that we opened some doors to people in the community who are professionals in that area, and provided us some feedback and we took their feedback seriously," said Jeanne Knouse, director of the district's Student Services department.

Knouse says some weaknesses were found during this process. The proposed revised policy clarifies that school employees can immediately file an abuse report and that they don't have to wait for the student to make a complaint. The new policy would also require volunteers and interns to become mandatory reporters. There's also clarification to reporting during summer programs when school leaders may be away.

"In that maybe our home school visitor is not available or principal, there needs to be a procedure to happen there, so in sports it may be our director of athletics that would be the person to go to," said Knouse.

The State College Area teachers union says that the policy changes are needed.

"[Sometimes] we don't have the ability to necessarily leave to go find somebody to report to immediately, and sometimes our immediate supervisors are not available, so the whole timelines and who to report to is being clarified," said Holli Jo Warner, the president of the State College Area Education Association.      

The school district will setup mandatory reporting sessions at the end of the month and in April to make sure all staff understand school district policy.

School leaders say the changes have been approved by the district's solicitor. The board is expected to vote on the revised policy next month. Monday's meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at the district's administrative building.
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