Connecticut Seal

Substitute House Bill No. 6186

Public Act No. 15-205

AN ACT PROTECTING SCHOOL CHILDREN.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsection (c) of section 17a-101 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(c) The Commissioner of Children and Families shall develop an educational training program and refresher training program for the accurate and prompt identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect. Such training program and refresher training program shall be made available to all persons mandated to report child abuse and neglect at various times and locations throughout the state as determined by the Commissioner of Children and Families. Such training program and refresher training program shall be provided in accordance with the provisions of subsection (f) of section 17a-101i, as amended by this act, to [all new] each school [employees] employee, as defined in section 53a-65, within available appropriations.

Sec. 2. Section 17a-101a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

(a) (1) Any mandated reporter, as [defined] described in section 17a-101, as amended by this act, who in the ordinary course of such person's employment or profession has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that any child under the age of eighteen years [(1)] (A) has been abused or neglected, as [defined] described in section 46b-120, [(2)] (B) has had nonaccidental physical injury, or injury which is at variance with the history given of such injury, inflicted upon such child, or [(3)] (C) is placed at imminent risk of serious harm, or (2) any school employee, as defined in section 53a-65, who in the ordinary course of such person's employment or profession has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that any person who is being educated by the technical high school system or a local or regional board of education, other than as part of an adult education program, is a victim under the provisions of section 53a-70, 53a-70a, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b or 53a-73a, and the perpetrator is a school employee shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with the provisions of sections 17a-101b to 17a-101d, inclusive, as amended by this act.

(b) (1) Any person required to report under the provisions of this section who fails to make such report or fails to make such report within the time period prescribed in sections 17a-101b to 17a-101d, inclusive, as amended by this act, and section 17a-103 shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor, [and] except that such person shall be guilty of a class E felony if (A) such violation is a subsequent violation, (B) such violation was wilful or intentional or due to gross negligence, or (C) such person had actual knowledge that (i) a child was abused or neglected, as described in section 46b-120, or (ii) a person was a victim described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of this section.

(2) Any person who intentionally and unreasonably interferes with or prevents the making of a report pursuant to this section, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be guilty of a class D felony. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to any child under the age of eighteen years or any person who is being educated by the technical high school system or a local or regional board of education, other than as part of an adult education program.

(3) Any person found guilty under the provisions of this subsection shall be required to participate in an educational and training program. The program may be provided by one or more private organizations approved by the commissioner, provided the entire cost of the program shall be paid from fees charged to the participants, the amount of which shall be subject to the approval of the commissioner.

(c) The Commissioner of Children and Families, or the commissioner's designee, shall promptly notify the Chief State's Attorney when there is reason to believe that any such person has failed to make a report in accordance with this section.

(d) For purposes of this section and section 17a-101b, as amended by this act, a mandated reporter's suspicion or belief may be based on factors including, but not limited to, observations, allegations, facts or statements by a child, victim, as described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of this section, or third party. Such suspicion or belief does not require certainty or probable cause.

Sec. 3. Section 17a-101b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

(a) An oral report shall be made by a mandated reporter as soon as practicable but not later than twelve hours after the mandated reporter has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child has been abused or neglected or placed in imminent risk of serious harm, by telephone or in person to the Commissioner of Children and Families or a law enforcement agency. If a law enforcement agency receives an oral report, it shall immediately notify the Commissioner of Children and Families.

(b) If the commissioner or the commissioner's designee suspects or knows that such person has knowingly made a false report, the identity of such person shall be disclosed to the appropriate law enforcement agency and to the perpetrator of the alleged abuse.

(c) If the Commissioner of Children and Families, or the commissioner's designee, receives a report alleging sexual abuse or serious physical abuse, including, but not limited to, a report that: (1) A child has died; (2) a child has been sexually assaulted; (3) a child has suffered brain damage or loss or serious impairment of a bodily function or organ; (4) a child has been sexually exploited; or (5) a child has suffered serious nonaccidental physical injury, the commissioner shall, within twelve hours of receipt of such report, notify the appropriate law enforcement agency.

(d) Whenever a mandated reporter, as [defined] described in section 17a-101, as amended by this act, has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that any child has been abused or neglected by a member of the staff of a public or private institution or facility that provides care for such child or a public or private school, the mandated reporter shall report as required in subsection (a) of this section. The Commissioner of Children and Families or the commissioner's designee shall notify the principal, headmaster, executive director or other person in charge of such institution, facility or school, or the person's designee, unless such person is the alleged perpetrator of the abuse or neglect of such child. In the case of a public school, the commissioner shall also notify the person's employing superintendent. Such person in charge, or such person's designee, shall then immediately notify the child's parent or other person responsible for the child's care that a report has been made.

(e) For purposes of this section, "child" includes any victim described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act.

Sec. 4. Section 17a-101d of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

All oral and written reports required in sections 17a-101a to 17a-101c, inclusive, as amended by this act, and section 17a-103, shall contain, if known: (1) The names and addresses of the child and his or her parents or other person responsible for his or her care; (2) the age of the child; (3) the gender of the child; (4) the nature and extent of the child's injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect; (5) the approximate date and time the injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect occurred; (6) information concerning any previous injury or injuries to, or maltreatment or neglect of, the child or his or her siblings; (7) the circumstances in which the injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect came to be known to the reporter; (8) the name of the person or persons suspected to be responsible for causing such injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect; (9) the reasons such person or persons are suspected of causing such injury or injuries, maltreatment or neglect; (10) any information concerning any prior cases in which such person or persons have been suspected of causing an injury, maltreatment or neglect of a child; and (11) whatever action, if any, was taken to treat, provide shelter or otherwise assist the child. For purposes of this section, "child" includes any victim described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act.

Sec. 5. Section 17a-101h of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, any person authorized to conduct an investigation of abuse or neglect shall coordinate investigatory activities in order to minimize the number of interviews of any child and share information with other persons authorized to conduct an investigation of child abuse or neglect, as appropriate. A person reporting child abuse or neglect shall provide any person authorized to conduct an investigation of child abuse or neglect with all information related to the investigation that is in the possession or control of the person reporting child abuse or neglect, except as expressly prohibited by state or federal law. The commissioner shall obtain the consent of parents or guardians or other persons responsible for the care of the child to any interview with a child, except that such consent shall not be required when the department has reason to believe such parent or guardian or other person responsible for the care of the child or member of the child's household is the perpetrator of the alleged abuse or that seeking such consent would place the child at imminent risk of physical harm. If consent is not required to conduct the interview, such interview shall be conducted in the presence of a disinterested adult unless immediate access to the child is necessary to protect the child from imminent risk of physical harm and a disinterested adult is not available after reasonable search. For purposes of this section, "child" includes any victim described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act.

Sec. 6. Section 17a-101i of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

(a) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, not later than five working days after an investigation of a report that a child has been abused or neglected by a school employee, as defined in section 53a-65, or that a person is a victim, as described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act, of a school employee has been completed, the Commissioner of Children and Families shall notify the employing superintendent and the Commissioner of Education of the results of such investigation and shall provide records, whether or not created by the department, concerning such investigation to the superintendent and the Commissioner of Education. The Commissioner of Children and Families shall provide such notice whether or not the child or victim was a student in the employing school or school district. If [(1)] the Commissioner of Children and Families, based upon the results of the investigation, has reasonable cause to believe that (1) (A) a child has been abused or neglected, as described in section 46b-120, by such employee, and [(2)] (B) the commissioner recommends such school employee be placed on the child abuse and neglect registry established pursuant to section 17a-101k, or (2) a person is a victim, as described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act, of such school employee, the superintendent shall suspend such school employee. Such suspension shall be with pay and shall not result in the diminution or termination of benefits to such employee. Not later than seventy-two hours after such suspension the superintendent shall notify the local or regional board of education and the Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's representative, of the reasons for and conditions of the suspension. The superintendent shall disclose such records to the Commissioner of Education and the local or regional board of education or its attorney for purposes of review of employment status or the status of such employee's certificate, permit or authorization. The suspension of a school employee employed in a position requiring a certificate shall remain in effect until the board of education acts pursuant to the provisions of section 10-151. If the contract of employment of such certified school employee is terminated, or such certified school employee resigns such employment, the superintendent shall notify the Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's representative, within seventy-two hours after such termination or resignation. Upon receipt of such notice from the superintendent, the Commissioner of Education may commence certification revocation proceedings pursuant to the provisions of subsection (i) of section 10-145b, as amended by this act. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 1-210 and 1-211, information received by the Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's representative, pursuant to this section shall be confidential subject to regulations adopted by the State Board of Education under section 10-145g. No local or regional board of education shall employ a person whose employment contract is terminated or who resigned from employment following a suspension pursuant to the provisions of this subsection if such person is convicted of a crime involving an act of child abuse or neglect as described in section 46b-120 or a violation of section 53a-70, 53a-70a, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b or 53a-73a against any person who is being educated by the technical high school system or a local or regional board of education, other than as part of an adult education program.

(b) Not later than five working days after an investigation of a report that a child has been abused or neglected by a staff member of a public or private institution or facility that provides care for children or a private school has been completed, the Commissioner of Children and Families shall notify such staff member's employer at such institution, facility or school, or such employer's designee, of the results of the investigation. If (1) the Commissioner of Children and Families, based upon the results of the investigation, has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected by such staff member, and (2) the commissioner recommends that such staff member be placed on the child abuse and neglect registry established pursuant to section 17a-101k, such institution, facility or school shall suspend such staff person. Such suspension shall be with pay and shall not result in diminution or termination of benefits to such staff person. Such suspension shall remain in effect until the incident of abuse or neglect has been satisfactorily resolved by the employer of the staff person or until an appeal, conducted in accordance with section 17a-101k, has resulted in a finding that such staff person is not responsible for the abuse or neglect or does not pose a risk to the health, safety or well-being of children. If such staff member has a professional license or certificate issued by the state or a permit or authorization issued by the State Board of Education or if such institution, school or facility has a license or approval issued by the state, the commissioner shall forthwith notify the state agency responsible for issuing such license, certificate, permit, approval or authorization to the staff member and provide records, whether or not created by the department, concerning such investigation.

(c) If a school employee, as defined in section 53a-65, or any person holding a certificate, permit or authorization issued by the State Board of Education under the provisions of sections 10-144o to 10-149, inclusive, is convicted of a crime involving an act of child abuse or neglect as described in section 46b-120 or a violation of subdivision (2) of subsection (b) of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act, or section 53-21, as amended by this act, 53a-71 or 53a-73a against any person, or a violation of section 53a-70, 53a-70a, 53a-72a or 53a-72b against a victim, as described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act, the state's attorney for the judicial district in which the conviction occurred shall in writing notify the superintendent of the school district or the supervisory agent of the nonpublic school in which the person is employed and the Commissioner of Education of such conviction.

(d) For the purposes of receiving and making reports, notifying and receiving notification, or investigating, pursuant to the provisions of sections 17a-101a to 17a-101h, inclusive, as amended by this act, and 17a-103, a superintendent of a school district or a supervisory agent of a nonpublic school may assign a designee to act on such superintendent's or agent's behalf.

(e) On or before February 1, [2012] 2016, each local and regional board of education shall adopt a written policy, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (d) of section 17a-101, regarding the reporting by school employees, as defined in section 53a-65, of suspected child abuse or neglect in accordance with sections 17a-101a to 17a-101d, inclusive, as amended by this act, and 17a-103 or a violation of section 53-70, 53a-70a, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b or 53a-73a against a victim, as described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101i, as amended by this act. Such policy shall be distributed annually to all school employees employed by the local or regional board of education. The local or regional board of education shall document that all such school employees have received such written policy and completed the training and refresher training programs required by subsection (c) of section 17a-101, as amended by this act.

(f) (1) [All school employees] Each school employee, as defined in section 53a-65, hired by a local or regional board of education on or after July 1, 2011, shall be required to complete the training program developed pursuant to subsection (c) of section 17a-101, as amended by this act. [All such school employees] Each such school employee shall complete the refresher training program, developed pursuant to subsection (c) of section 17a-101, as amended by this act, not later than three years after completion of the initial training program, and shall thereafter retake such refresher training course at least once every three years.

(2) On or before July 1, 2012, [all] each school [employees] employee, as defined in section 53a-65, hired by a local or regional board of education before July 1, 2011, shall complete the refresher training program developed pursuant to subsection (c) of section 17a-101, as amended by this act, and shall thereafter retake such refresher training course at least once every three years.

(3) The principal for each school under the jurisdiction of a local or regional board of education shall annually certify to the superintendent for the board of education that each school employee, as defined in section 53a-65, working at such school, is in compliance with the provisions of this subsection. The superintendent shall certify such compliance to the State Board of Education.

Sec. 7. Section 17a-101j of the general statutes is amended by adding subsection (d) as follows (Effective October 1, 2015):

(NEW) (d) For purposes of this section, "child" includes any victim described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act.

Sec. 8. Section 17a-101o of the general statutes is amended by adding subsection (c) as follows (Effective October 1, 2015):

(NEW) (c) For purposes of this section, "child" includes any victim described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act.

Sec. 9. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) Not later than January 1, 2016, each local and regional board of education shall establish a confidential rapid response team to coordinate with the Department of Children and Families to (1) ensure prompt reporting of suspected abuse or neglect, as described in section 46b-120, of the general statutes, or sexual assault pursuant to the provisions of section 53a-70, 53a-70a, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b or 53a-73a of the general statutes against a victim, as described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 17a-101a of the general statutes, as amended by this act, and (2) provide immediate access to information and individuals relevant to the department's investigation. The confidential rapid response team shall consist of a teacher and the superintendent employed by the board of education, a local police officer and any other person the board of education deems appropriate. The department, along with the multidisciplinary team established pursuant to section 17a-106a of the general statutes, shall take immediate action to investigate and address each report of child abuse or neglect reported in any school.

Sec. 10. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) No local or regional board of education shall hire any person whose employment contract was previously terminated by a board or who resigned from such employment, if such person has been convicted of a violation of section 17a-101a of the general statutes, as amended by this act, regardless of whether an allegation of abuse or neglect or sexual assault has been substantiated.

Sec. 11. Subsection (a) of section 53-21 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

(a) Any person who (1) wilfully or unlawfully causes or permits any child under the age of sixteen years to be placed in such a situation that the life or limb of such child is endangered, the health of such child is likely to be injured or the morals of such child are likely to be impaired, or does any act likely to impair the health or morals of any such child, or (2) has contact with the intimate parts, as defined in section 53a-65, of a child under the age of sixteen years or subjects a child under sixteen years of age to contact with the intimate parts of such person, in a sexual and indecent manner likely to impair the health or morals of such child, or (3) permanently transfers the legal or physical custody of a child under the age of sixteen years to another person for money or other valuable consideration or acquires or receives the legal or physical custody of a child under the age of sixteen years from another person upon payment of money or other valuable consideration to such other person or a third person, except in connection with an adoption proceeding that complies with the provisions of chapter 803, [or (4) intentionally and unreasonably interferes with or prevents the making of a report of suspected child abuse or neglect required under section 17a-101a, shall be guilty of (A) a class D felony for a violation of subdivision (4) of this subsection, (B)] shall be guilty of (A) a class C felony for a violation of subdivision (1) or (3) of this subsection, and [(C)] (B) a class B felony for a violation of subdivision (2) of this subsection, except that, if the violation is of subdivision (2) of this subsection and the victim of the offense is under thirteen years of age, such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of which five years of the sentence imposed may not be suspended or reduced by the court.

Sec. 12. Subsection (i) of section 10-145b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(i) (1) The State Board of Education may revoke any certificate, authorization or permit issued pursuant to sections 10-144o to 10-149, inclusive, for any of the following reasons: (A) The holder of the certificate, authorization or permit obtained such certificate, authorization or permit through fraud or misrepresentation of a material fact; (B) the holder has persistently neglected to perform the duties for which the certificate, authorization or permit was granted; (C) the holder is professionally unfit to perform the duties for which the certificate, authorization or permit was granted; (D) the holder is convicted in a court of law of a crime involving moral turpitude or of any other crime of such nature that in the opinion of the board continued holding of a certificate, authorization or permit by the person would impair the standing of certificates, authorizations or permits issued by the board; or (E) other due and sufficient cause. The State Board of Education shall revoke any certificate, authorization or permit issued pursuant to said sections if the holder is found to have intentionally disclosed specific questions or answers to students or otherwise improperly breached the security of any administration of a mastery examination, pursuant to section 10-14n. In any revocation proceeding pursuant to this section, the State Board of Education shall have the burden of establishing the reason for such revocation by a preponderance of the evidence. Revocation shall be in accordance with procedures established by the State Board of Education pursuant to chapter 54.

(2) When the Commissioner of Education is notified, pursuant to section 10-149a or 17a-101i, as amended by this act, that a person holding a certificate, authorization or permit issued by the State Board of Education under the provisions of sections 10-144o to 10-149, inclusive, has been convicted of (A) a capital felony, under the provisions of section 53a-54b in effect prior to April 25, 2012, (B) arson murder, pursuant to section 53a-54d, (C) a class A felony, (D) a class B felony, except a violation of section 53a-122, 53a-252 or 53a-291, (E) a crime involving an act of child abuse or neglect as described in section 46b-120, or (F) a violation of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act, 53-21, as amended by this act, 53-37a, 53a-60b, 53a-60c, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b, 53a-73a, 53a-88, 53a-90a, 53a-99, 53a-103a, 53a-181c, 53a-191, 53a-196, 53a-196c, 53a-216, 53a-217b or 21a-278 or subsection (a) of section 21a-277, any certificate, permit or authorization issued by the State Board of Education and held by such person shall be deemed revoked and the commissioner shall notify such person of such revocation, provided such person may request reconsideration pursuant to regulations adopted by the State Board of Education, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54. As part of such reconsideration process, the board shall make the initial determination as to whether to uphold or overturn the revocation. The commissioner shall make the final determination as to whether to uphold or overturn the revocation.

(3) The State Board of Education may deny an application for a certificate, authorization or permit for any of the following reasons: (A) The applicant seeks to obtain a certificate, authorization or permit through fraud or misrepresentation of a material fact; (B) the applicant has been convicted in a court of law of a crime involving moral turpitude or of any other crime of such nature that in the opinion of the board issuance of a certificate, authorization or permit would impair the standing of certificates, authorizations or permits issued by the board; or (C) other due and sufficient cause. Any applicant denied a certificate, authorization or permit shall be notified in writing of the reasons for denial. Any applicant denied a certificate, authorization or permit may request a review of such denial by the State Board of Education.

(4) A person whose certificate, permit or authorization has been revoked may not be employed in a public school during the period of revocation.

(5) Any local or regional board of education or private special education facility approved by the commissioner shall report to the commissioner when an employee, who holds a certificate, permit or authorization, is dismissed pursuant to subdivision (3) of subsection (d) of section 10-151.

Sec. 13. Section 10-145i of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 10-144o to 10-146b, inclusive, and 10-149, the State Board of Education shall not issue or reissue any certificate, authorization or permit pursuant to said sections if (1) the applicant for such certificate, authorization or permit has been convicted of any of the following: (A) A capital felony, as defined under the provisions of section 53a-54b in effect prior to April 25, 2012; (B) arson murder, as defined in section 53a-54d; (C) any class A felony; (D) any class B felony except a violation of section 53a-122, 53a-252 or 53a-291; (E) a crime involving an act of child abuse or neglect as described in section 46b-120; or (F) a violation of section 17a-101a, as amended by this act, 53-21, as amended by this act, 53-37a, 53a-60b, 53a-60c, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b, 53a-73a, 53a-88, 53a-90a, 53a-99, 53a-103a, 53a-181c, 53a-191, 53a-196, 53a-196c, 53a-216, 53a-217b or 21a-278 or a violation of subsection (a) of section 21a-277, and (2) the applicant completed serving the sentence for such conviction within the five years immediately preceding the date of the application.

Approved July 2, 2015