Mandated Reporting and Professional Boundaries: Important Training for Faculty and Staff

by Shipman & Goodwin LLP

Now more than ever it is critical for independent schools to ensure that all faculty and staff are appropriately trained regarding their legal obligation to report suspicions of abuse and neglect of any student to appropriate authorities. As you start to think about professional development and training opportunities for next year, consider dedicating time to review with your faculty and staff the specifics requirements of Connecticut’s mandated reporting law and your school’s policy and expectations in this area. Beyond mandated reporting obligations, it is equally important to engage faculty and staff in constructive dialogue about your overall school culture and the impact that even small boundary violations can have on eroding trust and fostering environments that could compromise the health and safety of students.

Mandated Reporters in Connecticut

Connecticut law provides that all school employees, including those at independent schools, are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. The term “school employee” is exceptionally broad, including not only teachers and administrators, but also anyone who “in the performance of his or her duties, has regular contact with students and who provides services to students on or behalf of students enrolled in … a private elementary, middle, or high school pursuant to a contract.”  Conn. Gen. Stat. §53a-65(13). For practical purposes, anyone working at an independent school should be fully aware of their legal obligations as well as the best practices for reporting.

Reporting: What and When?

It is of utmost importance that independent school employees understand and appreciate what triggers their obligation to report, the mechanics of reporting, and how to coordinate with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and/or law enforcement in the conduct of any resulting investigations. In Connecticut, mandated reporters must report (or cause a report to be made) when, in the ordinary course of employment, they have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child under the age of eighteen has been abused, neglected, or is placed in imminent risk of serious harm.  Such suspected abuse, neglect, or harm could arise in the context of student and adult interactions as well as in the context of peer interactions.  The level of suspicion necessary to trigger the requirement of reporting is a low threshold by design; it does not require certainty or probable cause.  Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-101a.  The reporting requirements are strict, both with regard to the timeline for reporting and with regard to the information to be reported.  Any reports must be made orally to DCF or to law enforcement within 12 hours of suspecting abuse or neglect, and a written report to DCF must be submitted within 48 hours of the oral report.  Additional requirements also mandate notification of the head of school. As specific as the law is, however, questions frequently arise on such issues as disclosing information to parents, handling misconduct that happens off campus, and sexual activity involving other minors. Training of employees as to both the procedural and substantive requirements of the mandated reporting laws helps to provide each member of your school community with the necessary tools to effectively handle these serious matters in a professional and legally compliant manner.

The Importance of Faculty and Staff Trainings

Currently, Connecticut law explicitly requires public school employees to complete initial and periodic refresher trainings on the topic of mandatory reporting.  The legal requirement for initial and periodic refresher trainings for public school employees was added to the statutory scheme in 2011 and while it does not expressly extend to employees at non-public schools, these training requirements represent best practice. For this reason, we strongly recommend that independent schools follow the training required of their public school counterparts and educate all new faculty and staff in this area and provide periodic refresher trainings for returning employees.  Revisiting the topic of mandated reporting also provides employees who are familiar with the basics further opportunity for more in-depth discussion about particular factual scenarios involving more subtle boundary issues such as confidentiality, being alone with students, and use of social media.  In short, training is generally helpful and never harmful.

Other Benefits and Best Practices

Beyond promoting the health, safety, and wellbeing of students, mandated reporter training may be required for ongoing accreditation and/or by your insurer even if not explicitly required by law.   In addition to training, now is also a good time to review current practices and policies and ensure they remain current with state law and reflect evolving standards in this area.  In Connecticut, DCF offers several resources, many of which are available online, including a model reporting policy as well as in-person and online training and refresher modules

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Shipman & Goodwin LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Shipman & Goodwin LLP

Shipman & Goodwin LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.