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Hartford school system scrutinized for underreporting abuse

No parent wants to think that his or her child could be hurt at school. If a child is hurt, then a parent would expect the school to report the harassment or negative behavior to the proper authorities. That's allegedly not what happened in these cases.

After suspicions of abuse came to a head in Harford, the Office of the Child Advocate has stated that the school system was not reporting incidents fast enough or even at all in some cases. For instance, in one claim, a student reported a teacher calling him worthless. In another instance, a minister had reported his concerns over an administrator at the school. It later turned out that the administrator was arrested for sending sexual texts to a 13-year-old child.

The Harford school system is being scrutinized as these and other cases emerge. The mayor asked that the watchdog agency looks into how the school system is addressing these issues and complying with how it's supposed to report issues of neglect and abuse. It's not doing well, according to the agency.

In the state, teachers, mandated reporters and principals must report any suspected case of abuse or neglect within 12 hours. The Hartford school system's policies are over a decade old and did not match this requirement. Schools are required to update the reports of mandated reporter training each year, but the school system failed to do so.

Another serious problem was that the child advocate looking into this case discovered that the state Department of Children and Families sometimes failed to substantiate reports. That means that situations including mistreatment were harder for schools to address.

If you find yourself facing a difficult situation like this, you can pursue your legal options outside the school. Your child deserves to be safe, not to be caught in a system lacking proper procedures.

Source: Harford Courant, "Suspicions Of Abuse In Hartford Schools," Feb. 15, 2017

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