According to Alabama law, any person who knows or has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected, or who observes any child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse, is required to make both an oral and written report. An oral report should be made to the Department of Human Resources (or the Sheriff’s Office if DHR is not available), and a written report should be also be forwarded to the Department of Human Resources.
If a student discloses to a teacher that he/she has been abused or neglected in any way, that teacher has the responsibility to inform DHR of the information that has been disclosed to him/her. It is not permissible for the teacher (or any other faculty and staff member) to ask the counselor or social worker to make the report to DHR on their behalf.
Failure to make a required report is a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail or a $500 fine (or both). Additional civil liabilities may also be pursued.
The child abuse/neglect reporting process for students in the Baldwin County School System is listed below:
1. Report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect to the Department of Human Resources (DHR), as well as the principal. Although an oral report will initially be made, a written report should also be completed with a copy given to the school principal.
2. DO NOT attempt to determine whether abuse or neglect has occurred.
3. DO NOT contact the student’s family to determine the cause of suspected abuse or neglect.
4. All records concerning reports of suspected abuse or neglect shall remain confidential and subject to the privacy limitations as established by law and board policy.
5. DHR will conduct the investigation. Only report what is reported to you.
6. In an emergency situation, if DHR is unable to respond immediately, or by the end of the school day, call the Sheriff’s Department. (The office hours for DHR are Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.)
7. Obtain the following demographic information from the child:
• Student’s full name
• Date of birth
• Parents’ names
• Telephone number(s)
• Name(s) of sibling(s)
8. The specific person who suspects or has knowledge of the abuse or neglect will call DHR, Children’s Protective Intake Division. The two intake workers at DHR are Ms. LaKinda Taylor and Ms. Michelle Mosley. Ms. Taylor’s telephone number is 945-2469, and Ms. Mosley’s telephone number is 947-8365. (The Baldwin County Sheriff’s office number is 937-0202.)
9. As soon after the oral report is made, the person contacting DHR (or the Sheriff’s office) should provide a written report to either DHR or the Sheriff’s Office. In addition, the person should keep a copy of the completed form for his/her records, and also give a copy to the principal.
11. In the event that neither Ms. LaKinda Taylor nor Ms. Michelle Mosley is available, reports may be called in to Mr. David Copeland. Mr. Copeland’s telephone number is 947-8346, and his e-mail address is David.Copeland@dhr.alabama.gov.
12. Should a report need to be faxed, it will be routed directly to the Intake Department. The fax number for DHR is 945-2491.
13. The principal should always be notified of such allegations pertaining to abuse and/or neglect.
The Written Report of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect is the form that should be utilized when making a report to the Department of Human Resources.