Child abuse is a very serious issue and sometimes the abuse happens at home. The school has become a safe place for students to talk with authorities.
So, do you have to let students be interviewed at school? In California, the short answer is “yes.” There are a few provisions that you should be aware of. First, students are allowed to have a school site staff member present during the interview. Second, the school site can choose a time that does not require the school site to incur expenses. This is governed by California Penal Code 11174.3 10-28 OPAD 10-28 OPAD Attachment
Penal Code 11174.3. (a) Whenever a representative of a government agency investigating suspected child abuse or neglect or the State Department of Social Services deems it necessary, a suspected victim of child abuse or neglect may be interviewed during school hours, on school premises, concerning a report of suspected child abuse or neglect that occurred within the child’s home or out-of-home care facility. The child shall be afforded the option of being interviewed in private or selecting any adult who is a member of the staff of the school, including any certificated or classified employee or volunteer aide, to be present at the interview. A representative of the agency investigating suspected child abuse or neglect or the State Department of Social Services shall inform the child of that right prior to the interview.
The purpose of the staff person’s presence at the interview is to
lend support to the child and enable him or her to be as comfortable as possible. However, the member of the staff so elected shall not participate in the interview. The member of the staff so present shall not discuss the facts or circumstances of the case with the child. The member of the staff so present, including, but not limited to, a volunteer aide, is subject to the confidentiality requirements of this article, a violation of which is punishable as specified in Section 11167.5. A representative of the school shall inform a member of the staff so selected by a child of the requirements of this section prior to the interview. A staff member selected by a child may decline the request to be present at the interview. If the staff person selected agrees to be present, the interview shall be held at a time during school hours when it does not involve an expense to the school. Failure to comply with the requirements of this section does not affect the admissibility of evidence in a criminal or civil proceeding.
(b) The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall notify each
school district and each agency specified in Section 11165.9 to
receive mandated reports, and the State Department of Social Services shall notify each of its employees who participate in the investigation of reports of child abuse or neglect, of the
requirements of this section.