California teachers to attest to reporting abuse

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California teachers applying for or renewing their credentials will be required to acknowledge that they understand their responsibility to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement or county welfare officials, and not just school administrators, under a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday.

The legislation, AB2560, by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, was drafted in response to troubling cases involving child abuse in California schools.

According to Bonilla's office, teachers reported several cases of suspected abuse to a principal in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District last year. But the principal never contacted law enforcement authorities, and the abuse wasn't discovered until later.

"Student safety is an important priority in our schools," Bonilla said in a statement. "It is imperative that all school employees clearly understand that once abuse is suspected, the appropriate intervention occurs immediately."

AB2560 requires all teachers applying for or renewing their credentials to read and sign a statement saying they will report suspected child abuse to Child Protective Services or police, and not just to a principal or school administrator.

The bill also requires that a written report of the suspected child abuse be submitted within 36 hours of learning about the incident. It was supported by teachers unions, school administrators and law enforcement groups.

Bonilla said she hopes the bill will prevent delays that allowed for abuse to continue.

The bill will take effect in 2015.

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