Child Abuse Registry Case Reversed

The GAE member and middle school teacher intervened with a student to prevent an altercation with another student. The student reported the teacher’s conduct to school authorities. The school district investigated the incident and the teacher was given a five (5) day suspension. The matter was referred to the Division of Family and Children Services (DFACS). Their investigation consisted of reviewing the personnel file, obtaining a statement from the student, school officials, and taking photographs of scratches on the student’s arm - thirty-four (34) days after the incident. Nonetheless, DFACS substantiated the teacher “neglected” the student by failing to provide adequate supervision by pushing the student, grabbing her arms and leaving scratches. DFACS notified the teacher that his name would be placed on the Central Child Abuse Registry based on an allegation of child “neglect.” At that point the GAE member contacted legal services. GAE’s network attorney immediately filed an appeal to contest the “neglect” allegations before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Evidence at the hearing included first-hand witness observations of three (3) other teachers who testified they never observed the teacher grab or scratch the student’s arm. The school’s principal testified she reviewed video of the hallway incident and did not see the teacher hit the student. The principal also testified the student has a history of behavioral issues and has been expelled from school for assaulting students, teachers, and staff members. The student did not testify. After hearing all the credible evidence presented at the hearing, the ALJ ordered the removal of the teacher’s name from the child abuse registry. To read a redacted version of the ALJ’s Order click here.