Lack of Transparency Challenges the Emery Unified “National Model”
The past year has brought to light at least three stories of disturbing child abuse cases in Bay Area schools. The Bay Area News Group is now reporting a common theme in these cases: failure by school staff to report their suspicions of abuse to authorities, as required by California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. Under the law, any school employee who becomes suspicious of abuse or neglect is required to alert police or child protective services.
Late last year the Bay Area News Group began a survey of 94 local school districts and found that the majority of districts were not regularly providing all their employees with training designed to assist staff in recognizing signs of sexual or other physical abuse, or providing clear reminders of the legal requirement to report to authorities even the suspicion of mistreatment.
How did Emery Unified School District fare in this survey? Emery Unified was one of 16 districts that failed to respond to the survey at all “despite repeated requests”, the News Group says.
In 2004 Emery Unified did adopt a Board Policy that requires the Superintendent to provide training regarding the reporting duties of mandated reporters. But is our current Superintendent in compliance with this Board Policy? We don’t know and the District isn’t saying.
Emery School Board Member John Affeldt recently rebuffed concerns that the District is overly focused on building the Center of Community Life which he says could become "a national model” but when the District cannot find time to respond to repeated requests concerning the welfare of our children, if it's even lack of time that's the problem here, one has to wonder whether those concerns might be well-founded after all.