For all the pleas for local control from educators, when it comes to reporting of suspected child abuse they have not learned their lesson and cannot be trusted to behave like responsible adults.
They simply refuse to hear the message that all school employees, from janitors to superintendents, are individually responsible for immediately notifying law enforcement authorities. It's not optional.
In Brentwood, at least 11 workers failed to report a teacher who pulled a 5-year-old student from his chair and kicked him as he lay on the ground.
A San Jose principal, rather than notify authorities of a sexual-abuse incident involving a teacher, tried to launch her own investigation, which she botched. She was convicted last year of a misdemeanor for failing to alert authorities.
The Moraga district faces multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed by four former students who say administrators failed to pass on complaints about teachers who sexually abused them.
In Redwood City, five aides allegedly did not alert authorities in a case of a teacher thought to have abused two 5-year-old special needs students.
It's little wonder these cases keep happening. As reporters Matthias Gafni and Theresa Harrington revealed this week, fewer than half the districts in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties offer workers annual training that experts encourage and the law suggests.
Other findings: Of 94 districts surveyed, 34 failed to train all employees, often neglecting aides, maintenance workers and clerical staff members also covered by the law. Forty-five districts do not have board-adopted policies on child-abuse reporting and training. And 16 districts couldn't be bothered to respond to the survey, a demonstration of their lack of appreciation for the seriousness of the issue.
Mt. Diablo school district officials say they provide training for all personnel, but a union representative says otherwise. In the Dublin, Fremont, San Lorenzo and Luther Burbank school districts, the policies or training conflict with state law. They actually call for notification of school officials before authorities. Wrong!
Enough is enough. It's time for the state Legislature to eliminate any supposed ambiguity about the need for every school worker who knows about a possible abuse to report it directly to authorities.
It's time to designate local police as the responsible agency to which abuse should be reported, eliminating the confusion that some cases should be reported to child protective services agencies and some to police. We hear about cases dropping between the cracks.
It's time for the Legislature to mandate that all workers attend state-standardized training, either in person or online, on an annual basis. It must be a requirement for employment, with meaningful penalties for those who fail to comply.
Enough bureaucratic ineptitude. It's time to crack down. No more excuses.