If you have any questions about reporting abuse or neglect at school, contact one of our attorneys at (203) 221-3100.

Reporting Suspected Abuse at School

Once a mandated reporter has a reasonable suspicion or belief that abuse has occurred, they should report it to DCF without further investigation. However, a new law effective July 1, 2024 allows teachers to conduct a preliminary inquiry before reporting suspected abuse or neglect to DCF.

The reporting standard for suspected abuse or neglect remains unchanged, as outlined below:

(a) (1) Any mandated reporter, as defined in section 17a-101, who, in the regular course of their employment or profession, has reasonable grounds to suspect or believe that any child under the age of eighteen years (A) has been subjected to abuse or neglect, as defined in section 46b-120, (B) has suffered nonaccidental physical injury, or injury inconsistent with the history provided, or (C) is facing imminent risk of serious harm, [must report such suspicion or belief to DCF].

Connecticut General Statute § 17a-101a(a) specifies that mandated reporters must report information concerning potential victimization of students by school employees, regardless of whether the alleged victims are under eighteen years of age.

Reasonable Suspicion of Abuse

Determining whether there is reasonable cause to suspect or believe that abuse or neglect has occurred has been a significant challenge. In 2015, the General Assembly provided additional guidance by amending the statute to include the following:

To clarify, for the purposes of this section and section 17a-101b, a mandated reporter’s suspicion or belief may be informed by various factors, such as observations, allegations, facts, statements from a child, or information from a victim as described in subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of this section, or from a third party. This suspicion or belief does not necessitate certainty or probable cause.

With Public Act 24-41, the General Assembly has further refined the responsibilities of mandated reporters by adding the following provision:

This section does not prevent a mandated reporter from conducting a preliminary inquiry to ascertain whether there is reasonable cause for them to make a report under subsection (a) of this section.

Through this addition, the General Assembly has clarified that, effective July 1, 2024, mandated reporters are not obliged to report abuse allegations without first determining whether there is reasonable cause to suspect or believe that abuse has indeed occurred.

Other Key Reporting Changes

Public Act 24-41 introduces several significant changes to the reporting statutes, including an amendment to the immunity provision. Mandated reporters who make reports in good faith have historically enjoyed immunity from liability (for instance, if the report is unsubstantiated and the subject of the report seeks to bring a claim against the reporter), as outlined in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-101e(b). Public Act 24-41 reinstates an additional safeguard that was removed from the law in 2018, effective once again on July 1, 2024. This immunity provision will also ensure protection for mandated reporters who act in good faith under the circumstances presented and choose not to file a report.

For example, in a situation where a teacher conducts a preliminary inquiry with a student who convincingly denies an allegation against a physical education teacher, but then the student renews the accusation later on, a mandated reporter who hears the renewed accusation must file a report at that time. However, the teacher who in good faith did not file a report after her initial inquiry with the student would not face repercussions for failing to report.

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or JMaya@Mayalaw.com to schedule a free initial consultation today.