Legislation aimed at requiring annual child abuse reporting training for school employees passed through a state education committee on Wednesday.

Sparked by two years of this newspaper's reports on school employees failing to properly report child abuse, Assembly Bill 1432 would change state law from "strongly encouraging" training to "requiring annual training," including yearly proof of such education.

In his introductory remarks at the Sacramento hearing, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Burbank, who introduced the legislation, praised the articles and editorials that helped create the bill.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the Bay Area News Group especially," he said. "Their coverage really helped the process."

Numerous groups spoke in favor of the bill at the hearing, including a child abuse prevention agency, the state superintendent's office, a school insurance company advocate and the California Teacher's Association.

Assembly Education Committee members focused on two issues with the bill: Would there be any punishment to a district or to employees if someone did not receive training within the first six months of the school year, and what would the training entail?

"We won't make it onerous," Gatto told committee members, "it needs to have teeth, though."

Gatto said while the bill does not specify what penalties would fall onto an individual or district if compliance was not met, both would open themselves to liability if they didn't follow a standard of care statute.


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The Department of Education would create the training standards and local districts would decide whether to allow teachers to train online, or through their own district or an outside agency," Gatto said.

The bill now moves to the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.