Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 570

    January Session, 2017

Substitute Senate Bill No. 1017

Senate, April 12, 2017

The Committee on Education reported through SEN. SLOSSBERG of the 14th Dist. and SEN. BOUCHER of the 26th Dist., Chairpersons of the Committee on the part of the Senate, that the substitute bill ought to pass.

AN ACT CONCERNING UNSUBSTANTIATED ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT BY SCHOOL EMPLOYEES.

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

Section 1. Section 17a-101i of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2017):

(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, of a school employee has been completed, the Commissioner of Children and Families shall notify the school employee, the employing superintendent, the employing school or school district 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 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 (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, 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. 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] commissioner, 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) (1) If, upon completion of an investigation of a report that a child has been abused or neglected by a school employee, the Commissioner of Children and Families finds that such abuse or neglect is unsubstantiated, the commissioner shall notify the school employee, the employing superintendent, the employing school or school district and the Commissioner of Education of his or her findings. Upon receipt of such notification, the Department of Education, the employing superintendent and the employing school or school district shall remove any references to the report and investigation from the school employee's personnel records and any other records relating to such school employee.

(2) A finding by the Commissioner of Children and Families that a report of abuse or neglect is unsubstantiated shall not prohibit the Department of Education or a local or regional board of education from (A) conducting, for purposes relating to professional certification or employment, an investigation of the conduct of a school employee who is a subject of such unsubstantiated report of abuse or neglect, or (B) upon completion of such investigation, taking action with respect to such school employee's employment, professional certification, authorization or permit, including, but not limited to, actions with respect to discipline, salary, promotion, transfer, demotion, retention or continuance of employment, termination of employment or any right or privilege relating to employment, provided such unsubstantiated report of abuse or neglect shall not be the sole basis for an action related to a school employee's employment, professional certification, authorization or permit.

[(c)] (d) 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 or section 53-21, 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, 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)] (e) 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, 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)] (f) On or before February 1, 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, 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 this section. [17a-101i.] 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)] (g) (1) 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. 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, each school 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. 2. Subsection (c) of section 17a-101 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2017):

(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)] (g) of section 17a-101i, as amended by this act, to each school employee, as defined in section 53a-65, within available appropriations.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2017

17a-101i

Sec. 2

July 1, 2017

17a-101(c)

ED

Joint Favorable Subst.

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill, which requires the Department of Children and Families to notify certain school employees of the results of abuse/neglect investigations, does not result in a fiscal impact to the state or municipalities.

The Out Years

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1017

AN ACT CONCERNING UNSUBSTANTIATED ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT BY SCHOOL EMPLOYEES.

SUMMARY

By law, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner must investigate any report that a child has been abused or neglected by a school employee. The bill requires the commissioner to notify the employee, as well as the employing school or school district, of the investigation's results, in addition to the employing superintendent and Education Commissioner, as required under current law.

If the investigation finds the alleged abuse or neglect to be unsubstantiated, the bill requires the State Department of Education (SDE), employing superintendent, and employing school or school district to remove any references to DCF's report and investigation from the employee's personnel records and any other records relating to the employee. Even with an unsubstantiated finding, however, the bill allows SDE or a local or regional board of education to undertake the following actions:

The bill prohibits SDE or a board of certification from taking any such action on the employee's employment, professional certification, authorization, or permit if it is solely based upon the unsubstantiated abuse or neglect report.

The bill also makes several technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

BACKGROUND

Related Bill

Substitute Senate Bill 893, reported favorably by the Children's Committee, requires DCF to take certain steps specific to investigations of alleged child abuse or neglect by a school employee or a staff member of a private school or private child care facility or institution.

Under that bill, if the employee or staff member DCF investigated has a state-issued license or certificate or State Board of Education-issued permit or authorization or his or her employing school, institution, or facility has a state-issued license or approval, the commissioner must notify the agency responsible for that credential of the investigation results.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

31

Nay

0

(03/24/2017)

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