Otto Specht School Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy

THREEFOLD EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION AND SCHOOL, OTTO SPECHT SCHOOL

Otto Specht School prohibits any and all forms of discrimination and harassment, which includes behaviors commonly recognized as bullying, hazing, sexual harassment and sexual abuse/assault. Discrimination includes acts of discrimination or harassment based upon actual or perceived religion, race, color, national origin, gender, physical or mental abilities/disabilities, physical traits, academic achievement, grade level, gender identity socio-economic status, neighborhood/area of residence, sexual orientation, personal characteristics or beliefs, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local law.

Discrimination and harassment can take place in person or in writing and can be physical, verbal, demonstrative, or electronic. Regardless of its form, OSS prohibits it.

TO WHOM THIS POLICY APPLIES:

This policy applies to all OSS Faculty, administration, athletic personnel, and other staff, whether full-time or part-time, OSS volunteers, employees of contracted service providers, and independent contractors working at OSS

WHERE THE OSS NON-DISCRIMINATION AND ANTI-HARASSMENT POLICY APPLIES:

The OSS Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy applies to the physical school itself; to all school-sponsored and affiliated activities and events, whether in school or out of school, including, but not limited to, special events, field trips, overnight trips, sleepovers, sporting events and practices; to all forms of transportation used by OSS personnel and students to come and go to school and school-affiliated activities; and to all forms/use of technology.

Furthermore, because students' and employees' behavior, whether inside or outside of school, reflects on OSS and can have a significant impact on life at school, there are times when it is appropriate and important for OSS to respond to incidents that occur outside of school and beyond school hours. Therefore, OSS reserves the right to discipline those who engage in discrimination or harassment of OSS students and employees at any location and at any time if such discrimination or harassment causes a substantial disruption to the OSS community.

No matter where one is located, whether inside or outside of school or in cyber-space, any use of technology whether personally or school-owned must comply with this Policy, and any other policies set forth in the OSS Student and Faculty/Employee Handbooks.

DEFINITIONS AND EXAMPLES

“Bullying.” Definition: Any form of physical, verbal, demonstrative, or electronic harassment that one should reasonably expect would demean, threaten, or physically or emotionally hurt its victims. It can be of a sexual nature or otherwise. It can take place in person, over the phone, in cyberspace, or through an on-line communication, or any other means that communicates such harassment. It can be one-on-one or group-based. Both adults and children can be bullied or be the bully.

Examples (include, but are not limited to):

•      pushing, elbowing, poking, tripping, sitting on, kicking, or hitting;

•       threatening another with physical harm;

•      taunting others because of their physical traits including, but not limited to, age, voice, height, weight, athletic skill, or any other personalcharacteristic;

•       demeaning others intellectual ability, academic performance, or grade level;

•      taunting others about their social skills, e.g., making jokes at the expense of someone who is socially awkward;

•      taunting others either verbally or using gestures about their actual or perceived sexual orientation;

•      taunting others either verbally or using gestures about their actual or perceived gender identity;

•      taunting others about their actual or perceived race, color, or national origin using derogatory terms to refer to someone's race or ethnic background;

•      excluding someone from a group or activity purposely to hurt them, e.g., refusing to let someone sit at a particular table;

•       damaging, hiding, taking of property;

•       calling someone offensive or demeaning names;

•       making jokes involving offensive stereotypes;

•      posting on Facebook, or any other on-line social networking site, mean, offensive, demeaning, embarrassing, or threatening comments or images;

•      texting, whether individually or as a group, mean, offensive, demeaning, embarrassing, or threatening comments or images;

•      creating fake web pages or fake profiles or assuming another's identity in any social media context to create content likely to cause embarrassment or concern;

•       spreading mean and hurtful rumors verbally, in writing, or on-line, or creating offensive graffiti.

“Hazing.” Definition: Any activity expected of someone joining a group (e.g., athletic team, co-curricular activity, student publication), grade, or the school itself or expected of someone to maintain any status in a group, grade, or the school that: (1) humiliates, (2) degrades, or (3) risks emotional and/or physical harm or embarrassment to the individual or the OSS community, regardless of the person's willingness to participate and regardless of its intended result or effect. OSS administration does not consider hazing activity to be harmless pranks or comical antics aimed at developing bonds of brotherhood or sisterhood among young men or women. Such behavior will not be tolerated.

Examples (include, but are not limited to):

•       requiring someone to: drink alcohol or use drugs;

•      consume any vile or hazardous substance, or allow such a substance to be smeared on the body;

•      endure any physical striking, beating, burning, branding, or to engage in self-mutilation or requiring one to commit such acts upon another;

•       endure acts of sexual abuse/assault;

•       be subjected to abusive and demeaning speech;

•       participate in acts of personal servitude;

•       proceed through any type of gauntlet;

•       suffer sleep deprivation;

•       restrict personal hygiene;

•       engage in indecent exposure;

•       participate in any illegal activity;

•      participate in physically dangerous activities such as exposing oneself to extreme weather conditions without appropriate protective clothing;

•       submit to being tied up, abducted, or blindfolded;

•      engage in any degrading or humiliating act, or any activity that violates any aspect of OSS codes of conduct.

Sexual harassment.” Definition: Any unwelcome or unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, physical, demonstrative, or electronic conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:

1.         Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or educational experience; or

2.         Submission or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for an employment, academic, or school-related decision;

3.         Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or participation in a school program or extra-curricular activity; or

4.         Such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, learning, studying, or school environment.

Any type of sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other verbal, physical, demonstrative, or electronic conduct or communication of a sexual nature made by any OSS employee, volunteer, employee of a contracted service provider, or other adult towards a student, whether welcomed by that student or not, is sexual harassment and a violation of this Policy.

Sexual harassment may occur in a single incident or be a series of incidents. It can occur between two adults, an adult and a student, two students, a group and an individual, or people of the same or different gender.

Examples (including, but not limited to):

•      intentional touching of a sexual or other private area of a person’s body, e.g., grabbing, patting, poking, or slapping the breasts, buttocks, or groin area;

•      supposed inadvertent contact with the sexual or private parts of the body, e.g., brushing up against someone’s leg with one's groin area and acting as if it was unintentional;

•       full-body hugs;

•      sexually-oriented verbal kidding, teasing, or joking made to or in front of someone who finds it offensive;

•       making suggestive comments about physical characteristics or appearances;

•      making offensive gender-based remarks, e.g., saying that a male is too feminine and that a female is too masculine;

•       commenting or asking questions about someone’s sexual experience or abilities;

•       spreading rumors of a sexual nature;

•       exposing another person to the display of sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters, e.g., showing another person pornography;

•       photographing, videotaping, or making any other visual or auditory recording of sexual activity or the sexual or intimate parts of a person's body without their knowledge and consent, and, in addition, if the person being photographed or recorded is a student, doing so even with their consent, as such images may constitute illegal child pornography;

•      sending via electronic means images of sexual activity or sexual or intimate parts of the body, i.e., "sexting”.

“Sexual abuse/assault.” Definition: Physical contact with a sexual or intimate part of the body without consent engaged in for the purpose of sexual gratification or to degrade or abuse. It includes various forms of sexual intercourse as well as lesser forms of sexual touching.

Sexual or intimate body parts include, but are not limited to: Breasts, buttocks, genitals, the groin area, the mouth and upper thighs.

Lack of Consent: Occurs when one is physically or verbally forced or intimidated into doing something sexual or submitting to a sexual act, or when one has explicitly indicated a lack of consent, or when the circumstances make it obvious that consent has not been given. Circumstances that make it obvious that consent has not been given include, but are not limited to: (1) being too intoxicated to say "no" or resist, (2) being asleep and therefore unable to consent, or (3) situations in which someone is deemed to be physically or mentally incapable of giving valid consent whether due to the use of intoxicants or any other reason. Children under 17 years of age cannot legally consent under New York State Law to having sex or sexual conduct with an adult.

Examples of sexual assault or abuse include, but are not limited to:

•      touching, grabbing, pinching, rubbing, or fondling another person's buttocks, breasts, or genital area, whether over or under clothing, without consent as defined herein and engaged in for the purpose of sexual gratification or to degrade or abuse;

•      rubbing one's genital area up against another person, whether over or under clothing, without consent as defined herein and engaged in for the purpose of sexual gratification or to degrade or abuse;

•      touching another person with one's genitals without consent as defined herein and engaged in for the purpose of sexual gratification or to degrade or abuse;

•       engaging in sexual behavior with someone too intoxicated to give informed consent;

•      physically or verbally intimidating someone to engage in a sex act or sexual contact, whether done so expressly or implicitly.

RESPONSE TO VIOLATIONS OF THE NON-DISCRIMINATION AND ANTI-HARASSMENT POLICY:

Desired Immediate Response

This section details the immediate response OSS encourages when an incident of discrimination or harassment is occurring. The section below, “Reporting Protocol,” details how and when such an incident should be reported after the incident has occurred.

Victims: OSS strongly encourages anyone who feels that he or she is a victim of discrimination or harassment, whether a student or an adult, to tell the offender to cease his or her offensive behavior and thereby make it clear that the behavior is offensive and unwelcome. Confronting someone in this manner has been shown to be an effective way to end such actions. However, OSS understands that not all victims will feel comfortable confronting their offender in this manner and, therefore, wishes to be perfectly clear that there is no requirement that a victim do so in order for OSS to address a reported violation. Reported violations of this Policy will be handled by the School in the same manner regardless of whether the person victimized confronted his or her harasser directly.

Witnesses: Prevention of harassment is the responsibility of the entire OSS community. OSS expects its students, employees, volunteers and other adults to demonstrate a sense of responsibility and respect for all members of the OSS community. Therefore, upon witnessing harassment, students are encouraged to intervene by telling the harasser to stop his or her offensive behavior and by thereafter reporting the violation. All OSS employees and volunteers are required by this Policy to intervene in this manner and then report the violation. It is important to note that failure of any such adult to intervene on behalf of a victim upon observing the harassment often emboldens the harasser to increase his or her harassing conduct, while making the victim of harassment feel more powerless. For this reason, all OSS employees and volunteers are required to intervene and tell the harasser to stop his or her offensive behavior upon witnessing an act of harassment.

REPORTING PROTOCOL

OSS believes any violation of this Policy is a serious matter requiring immediate attention and a thorough investigation as it is a threat to the safety and well-being of a member of our OSS community, as well as being antagonistic to our core values. Students, their parents and guardians are strongly encouraged to report such violations. OSS employees, volunteers, employees of contracted service providers, and independent contractors working at OSS are required to do so. This should be done no matter who the suspected harasser is.

Students, Parents/Guardians, & Other Concerned Non-GOSS Employees & Volunteers Reporting Protocol

Students, parents/guardians, and any other concerned individuals not working for OSS who are aware of a violation or suspected violation of this Policy should tell anymember of the OSS faculty or staff with whom they are comfortable speaking about the suspected violation. OSS encourages reporting incidents of harassment as soon as possible; however, there is no time limit on when such a report may be made. The faculty or staff member who is informed about an alleged violation is obligated to report the suspected violation to the appropriate OSS administrator, as designated in this Policy (see below), for investigation.

If, for any reason, a student, parent/guardian, or other concerned individual who does not work at OSS is uncomfortable reporting the violation to a OSS faculty or staff member or a member of the OSS Administration, he or she may instead report directly to one of the following outside individuals:

■           Designated Non-Vested Otto Specht School Board Member at  reportharassment@ottospecht.org

■           Lisa Friel of T&M Protection Resources at 212-417-9160 or via email atlfriel@tmprotection.com *

Should any OSS student, his or her parent/guardian, or other concerned non-OSS employee wish to report a violation of the OSS Policy anonymously, he or she may do so. Regardless of how a violation is reported, it will be addressed and investigated to the extent possible given the limitations inherent in investigating anonymous reports. Such an anonymous reporter may decide to reveal his or her identity at any later time which will greatly increase OSS’ ability to deal effectively with the reported violation.

OSS Employee, Volunteer, Employee of Contracted Service Providers, and Independent Contractors Working at OSS Reporting Protocol

Promptly, upon learning of a possible violation of the Policy, whether as a victim, witness, or recipient of such information from someone else, OSS employees, volunteers, employees of contracted service providers and independent contractors working at OSS must report the possible violation to one of the following people: 1) School Director 2) Assistant Director 3) Administration Staff. Ifanyone other than the Director is notified, that person must promptly inform the Director of the report. And when the Director is notified about a possible violation of the Policy, she must inform the Assistant Director or Administrative staff members so that both are always made aware of all possible violations. The Administrative Team must then inform the core faculty members (full time faculty members for more than one year or part-time faculty members for over 2 years).

If the report involves either the Director or the Assistant Director, the report should be made directly to the Core Faculty. If for any reason, an OSS employee or volunteer is uncomfortable reporting the violation to one of the above individuals, he or she may instead report directly to the Designated Non-Vested OSS Board Member at reportharassment@ottospecht.org or Lisa Friel of T&M Protection Resources at 212- 417-9160or via email at lfriel@tmprotection.com

Retaliation against anyone who in good faith reports a violation or suspected violation of this Policy, or who participates in the investigation of a complaint, is strictly prohibited. See Retaliation section of this Policy.

When Report Must be Made by OSS Employees, Volunteers, Employees of Contracted Service Providers and Independent Contractors

All OSS employees, volunteers, employees of contracted service providers, and independent contractors working at OSS who have reason to suspect that a violation has or may have occurred are under an obligation to promptly report this information or suspicion to the indicated persons set forth above in this Policy. A “reason to suspect” may be predicated upon being told directly or indirectly that a violation has occurred, overhearing talk that a violation has occurred, or observing behavior which gives rise to a suspicion that a violation has occurred. The obligation to report is mandatory regardless of whether the alleged violation involves another OSS employee, volunteer, an employee of a contracted service provider, or a student, as the victim or the offender. When in doubt of whether you have sufficient reason to suspect a violation has or may have occurred, always err on the side of caution by reporting what you know or suspect.

Special Reporting Requirements for Reports of Sexual Abuse/Assault

In cases ofsexual abuse/assault, due to the heightened seriousness of such allegations, reports must bemade by OSS employees, volunteers, employees of contracted service providers, and independent contractors working at OSS immediately upon coming into the possession of the information that such an act has or may have occurred and that such an act has or may have occurred and the person so notified, must immediately ensure that the other designated individuals are made aware of the report. In addition, both the Administrative Team and the OSS Board should be told about the report as soon as practicable. If the OSS Director or Administrator is the subject of the report, the matter should be brought directly to the attention of the an OSS Core Faculty member. In addition, the Executive Director of Threefold will be notified of suchreport.

Mandatory Reporting to State Authorities

There are circumstances in which a OSS employee may be required to report to State authorities their reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused or maltreatedSee, sections regarding Mandatory Reporting to the New York State Hotline and Mandatory Reporting to the New Jersey State Hotline.

Protection of Reporter’s Identity

The reporter's identity and the information he or she reports will only be shared with those necessary in OSS’ judgment and discretion to appropriately address the situation. Retaliation of any kind against a person or persons who have made such a report will not be tolerated and will subject anyone who engages in it to disciplinary action which may include expulsion or termination. (See, “Retaliation Prohibited” below.)

Amnesty Provision

OSS has a strict policy about the use of alcohol and other drugs by its students. OSSwill not tolerate alcohol or drug use among its students. It is absolutely forbidden at any time, on any part of the OSS campus, and at any school-related function, including the bus ride to and from school. Under normal circumstances, if a student possesses or uses drugs or alcohol, his or her parents/guardians are notified and the student may be expelled.

However, because the health and safety of OSS students is the School's paramount concern, to minimize any hesitation a student may have to report a violation of the OSS Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy, while not overlooking a violation of its drug and alcohol policy, the School will place great weight on the positive impact of reporting an incident in deciding if any action is appropriate for the reporter's breach of this policy.

RETALIATION PROHIBITED

Retaliation against anyone who in good faith reports a violation or suspected violation of this Policy, or who participates in the investigation of a complaint, is strictly prohibited.

Any person who engages in such retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, expulsion, if a student, or termination, if a OSS employee, volunteer, an employee of a contracted service provider, or an independent contractor. Prohibited "retaliation" includes, but is not limited to: threats, intimidation, harassment, any other adverse action threatened, expressly or impliedly, or taken against anyone who reports a violation or suspected violation of this Policy or who participates in an investigation of a complaint. Any OSS student, their parent or guardian, or other non-OSS employee who either observes or becomes aware of such retaliatory behavior is strongly encouraged to report it to School authorities. All OSS employees, volunteers, employees of contracted service providers, and independent contractors working at OSS are required to do so.

INTENTIONAL FALSE REPORTS PROHIBITED

OSS considers any allegation of harassment to be a serious matter. Therefore, if it is determined at the conclusion of an investigation that a reported violation was intentionally falsely made or that false information was knowingly provided regarding the complaint, OSS will take appropriate disciplinary or other action against such individual.

INVESTIGATION OF REPORTED INCIDENTS

After a report is made, OSS will direct that an investigation be conducted by appropriate individuals who will be selected based upon the nature of the report and the individuals involved. This investigation may be conducted by OSS personnel, or by counsel and/or by an outside investigator, depending on the facts and circumstances of the report. OSS recognizes that reporting a violation of the Policy will often involve discussing matters of a sensitive nature. Therefore, OSS and any outside investigator it retains will bear this in mind and use the utmost discretion when conducting the investigation in order to minimize the chances that information about the matter will become known by unnecessary individuals.

As part of any investigation conducted pursuant to this Policy, the reporter, the alleged victim (should that be someone other than the reporter), and the alleged offender will be interviewed separately about the reported facts. They will be advised of the prohibition against retaliation for making such a report and/or cooperating with an investigation.

Furthermore, others who may have relevant knowledge may also be questioned, and they too will be reminded of OSS’ anti-retaliation policy and the need for discretion. Given the fact that these investigations help to preserve the safety of our community, OSS expects all members of the community to cooperate in an investigation if requested to do so. All OSS employees, volunteers, employees of contracted service providers, and independent contractors working at OSS are under a duty to cooperate. OSS will try to be as discrete as possible during the investigation and confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible given the facts and circumstances of the complaint and the need to do a fair and thorough investigation.

Nothing in this Policy is intended to limit the options of any person who believes that he or she has been subject to unlawful harassment or discrimination. Such a person may at any time in addition to participating in the OSS Policy procedures pursue his or her rights with an outside agency, governmental entity, or legal counsel.

At the conclusion of the investigation, and after the decision regarding what, if any, disciplinary or remedial action is to be taken has been made, the alleged victim and alleged offender will be informed about the disposition of the matter. If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome, remedy may be sought by contacting the OSS Administrator. Communication of any information regarding the matter to other members of the OSS community, whether that be faculty, staff, the student body, or parents/guardians, will be decided on a case-by-case basis with all due consideration being given to issues of privacy, confidentiality, and the emotional and physical well-being of all those involved.

Disciplinary decisions will be based on the facts and circumstances of each case and will take into account the offender's prior conduct and the wishes of the victim, although the latter will not be the controlling factor as OSS must act in the interest of protecting the entire School community as well as the victim. In addition to being disciplined for engaging in an act of prohibited harassment or retaliation, OSS employees may also be disciplined for not following all aspects of this Policy, including but not limited to, the reporting protocols.

Possible disciplinary outcomes for students include, but are not limited to: a verbal warning, parental notification, loss of privileges, counseling, sensitivity training, probation, suspension, expulsion, dismissal, and/or notification to local or state authorities. OSS has the sole discretion as to appropriate discipline and can expel/dismiss, in appropriate situations, when no prior discipline has been taken. For certain offenses, expulsion/dismissal may be the first and only disciplinary step taken. Any disciplinary step or steps may be skipped at the sole discretion and judgment of OSS after investigation and analysis of the total situation. Although expulsion/dismissals generally include prior notice to the affected student, OSS reserves the right to bypass anynotice.

Possible disciplinary outcomes for employees include, but are not limited to: verbal coaching, verbal warnings, written warnings, sensitivity counseling, probation, suspension with or without pay, termination and other appropriate discipline. OSS has the sole discretion as to appropriate discipline and can terminate employees, in appropriate situations, when no prior discipline has been taken. For certain offenses, termination/dismissal may be the first and only disciplinary step taken. Any disciplinary step or steps may be skipped at the sole discretion and judgment of OSS after investigation and analysis of the total situation. Although involuntary terminations/dismissals generally include prior notice to the affected employee, OSS reserves the right to bypass any notice.

In addition to disciplinary action with regard to the accused, OSS will consider what, if any, remedial actions should be taken with regard to the School as a whole to prevent similar offenses from occurring in the future.

OSS will keep records of all such investigations and such records will include, but not be limited to, information about the allegation as gathered from the reporter, the alleged victim, the person accused, and others interviewed. In addition, the decision reached regarding appropriate disciplinary action and any other relevant follow-up action engaged in by the School will be documented. These records will be maintained in accordance with OSS Document Retention PolicyDocumentation of harassment investigations is necessary to provide an accurate record regarding the reported violation and how it was handled, one that does not have to rely on the recollections of people whose memories may become inaccurate over the passage of time.

MANDATORY REPORTING TO THE NEW YORK STATE HOTLINE

Under Section 413 of the New York State Social Services Law, all school officials, including, but not limited to, administrators, faculty, guidance counselors, and health care professionals employed by OSS are “mandated reporters” and have an affirmative duty to report when they have “reasonable cause to suspect” that a child has been abused or maltreated by a parent or legal guardian or someone else legally responsible for their care and such information has come to the school official’s attention in the course of his or her official or professional capacity.**

“Mandated reporters,” as defined above, must call the New York State Central Registry (“SCR”) at 1- 800-635-1522 upon having such “reasonable cause.” This is the personal duty of the person who has such reasonable cause and is not satisfied by telling a supervisor at the School. Consulting with a supervisor at the School before making such a call, however, is allowable, and indeed advisable, but the consent or approval of such supervisor is never a requirement for making a call to the SCR.

This reporting duty applies to knowledge obtained during the course of any out-of-school activity, as well as when on school premises, and indeed to any knowledge of abuse or maltreatment of a child “coming before them in their official or professional capacity” at any time or place. Thus, even if a GMWS employee learns of reportable abuse or maltreatment while on a retreat or a trip, or anywhere else out side of the School, a report must be made to the SCR.

OSS employees are reminded that the OSS administrators are always available to discuss such situations, offer advice and support, and be present should a call to the SCR need to be made. Oral reports to the SCR Hotline must be followed up within 48 hours with a written report using form LDS-2221-A which can be obtained from the New York State Office of Children’s Services (OCFS) website at www.ocfs.state.ny.us.

Penalties for failure to report: Failure to report a suspected case of child abuse or maltreatment perpetrated upon a child by a parent, legal guardian, or someone else legally responsible for the child’s care, as defined in the New York State Family Court Act above, is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of $1000. In addition, it is a violation of OSS policy and is therefore an offense for which an employee may be terminated.

Immunity from liability for Mandated Reporters: Under New York State Social Services Law, any school employee who in good faith makes a report to the State hotline has immunity from liability, civil or criminal, which might otherwise result by reason of such action.

REMINDER: REQUIRED REPORTING TO OSS ADMINISTRATION

In addition to the requirements of New York State law, as set out above, pursuant to the OSS Policy, all OSS employees, volunteers, employees of contracted service providers, and independent contractors working at OSS, as well as other adults have a duty to immediately report their suspicions of child abuse or maltreatment committed by anyone, not just a parent, guardian, or other person legally responsible for the child’s care, to one of the appropriate OSS administrators set forth in the Reporting section of this Policy.

This internal report must be made regardless of whether a call has already been made to the State Hotline listed above.

MANDATORY REPORTING TO THE NEW JERSEY STATE HOTLINE

Under Section 9:6-1 of Title 9 Children—Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts of the New Jersey State Statute, any person having reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the age of 18 has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse by any parent, guardian, or person having custody or control of that child, which includes school employees, must immediately report this information to the State Central Registry (SCR) at 1-877-652- 2873. The local New Jersey prosecutor’s office should also be notified. Thus New Jersey’s mandatory reporting law is broader than New York’s in that it requires anyone who comes into possession of such information to make a report, not just designated “mandatory reporters,” and it covers suspected abuse perpetrated by any school employee. A concerned caller does not need proof to report an allegation of child abuse, only a reasonable suspicion that it has occurred. OSS employees are reminded that the OSS administrators are always available to discuss such situations, offer advice and support, and be present should a call to the SCR need to be made.

Penalties for failure to report: Any person violating the provisions of Title 9, including the failure to report an act of child abuse having reasonable cause to believe that an act of child abuse has been committed is considered a “disorderly person” and faces criminal penalties. In addition, it is a violation of OSS policy and is therefore an offense for which an employee may be terminated.

Immunity from liability for Mandated Reporters: Anyone acting pursuant to this act in the making of a report under this act shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. Any such person shall have the same immunity with respect to testimony given in any judicial proceeding resulting from such report.

REMINDER: REQUIRED REPORTING TO OSS ADMINISTRATION

In addition to the requirements of New Jersey State law, as set out above, pursuant to the OSS Policy, all OSS employees, volunteers, employees of contracted service providers, and independent contractors working at OSS, as well as other adults, have a duty to immediately report their suspicions of child abuse or maltreatment committed by anyone, not just a parent, guardian, or other person legally responsible for the child’s care, to one of the appropriate OSS administrators set forth in the Reporting section of this Policy.

This internal report must be made regardless of whether a call has already been made to the State Hotline listed above.

REPORTING TO STATE OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT

While recognizing that it is under no legal duty to do so, if OSS has reasonable cause to suspect that an OSS employee, volunteer, employee of a contracted service provider, or any other adult at OSS has committed a physical or sexual assault, as defined by the New York State Penal Law, against an OSS student, OSS will report this information to State or Local law enforcement authorities.

 

 

 

 

* Lisa Friel is the Vice President of the Sexual Misconduct Consulting & Investigations Division at T&M Protection Resources, a consulting firm that GMWS has retained to serve as an outside reporting alternative. She has extensive experience handling sexual misconduct issues in both the private and public sectors.

**This is the same standard used in New York State’s mandatory reporting of child abuse statute which presently only requires reporting of abuse committed upon a child by a parent, guardian, or other person legally responsible for the child’s care, not school employees unrelated to the student.