Parents never want to learn their child may be a victim of maltreatment or abuse at school, but if that is the case, they deserve to know quickly. A new law ensures that will happen.
Signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty April 26, the law requires the education commissioner to notify parents or legal guardians of a child who may have been a victim of maltreatment or abuse at a school facility within 10 days of having received the report orally or in writing.
The issue came to light because of a Spring Lake Park case in which 6-year-old Kyle Herman, who has Down syndrome, was physically and emotionally abused by his kindergarten teacher over several months in 2006. Because the teacher had requested an arbitration hearing, details of the case were not made public by the Education Department, even to the boy’s parents, until May 2008, after that hearing was completed.
The commissioner also must notify parents or legal guardians of a child alleged to be a victim of maltreatment in writing within 10 days of the completion of the department’s investigation into an abuse or maltreatment allegation, and may notify parents or guardians of other students who witnessed alleged maltreatment.
The new law, sponsored by Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul) and Senate Minority Leader David Senjem (R-Rochester), takes effect Aug. 1, 2010.
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