(updated 4/20/2016) If there was a subject area I wish I remembered better from training this would be it. More than any other topics they included in our 2-day training, I asked more questions regarding how to protect a child in danger and bullying than anything else. And yet, I missed the #1 rule –
DON’T CALL CPS!!!
Early in my substitute teaching career (2 months ago), I met a student who spoke about personal concerns which needed to be reported. Remembering how much time I spent asking about what to do at training, I did NOT do what I should have. I did not report the student’s concerns to the school’s principal. Instead I called CPS – Child Protective Services. Eventually the School “may” have called CPS themselves but this should have been their decision to make, not mine. When I did make the report to CPS, the intake asked me if I already reported this to the School. The reason for this is no one knows the student’s situation better than the school. As a substitute teacher I have little to no knowledge of what is going on in a kids life and to suggest I know enough to contact CPS, is (in hindsight) ridiculous! As I failed to do so, I called my direct supervisor at the BOE Office and told them what I did in to make them aware. This resulted with an inquiry the following day. I was exonerated of any wrongdoing but I learned to make sure to follow protocol the next time.
Who do you report to?
“Principal” can also be defined as anyone in authority at the school including the guidance counselor or someone in the school leadership. If that person wants you to escalate the report they will tell you who to speak with.
What to report?
The CONCERN does not necessarily have to be FROM THE STUDENT. There was a time when I noticed the behavior of a student which led me to believe she was being bullied by other kids in her class (5th grade). I brought this to the attention of her teacher who said she would follow it up.
Also, this concern does not have to be school related. On one occasion a student was talking to other kids that she was pregnant. This is not something I wanted to take responsibility for knowing, without alerting the school leadership. I figured they were already aware of this situation but I was not prepared to make that assumption. As it turned out I was referred by a Vice Principal to the Guidance Office. And yes, the school was already aware of this situation.
Possible reasons to report –
Student says something that has happened, or they think will happen, at school which needs to be reported.
A Teacher says something (did something) that made a student feel uncomfortable but they for some reason have not already reported this.
A fellow teacher did something that I felt was “out of place”.
Student is being bullied by another student(s)
Student is scared of going home at night.
Something simply looks “out of place” and makes me want to report it to someone.