Reporting Child Abuse, Neglect or Educational Neglect
Each year there are a significant number of reports of child abuse in Bernalillo County. Regardless of whether or not school personnel make the report of abuse, case workers and/or law enforcement officers may conduct investigations at the school which provides a convenient site where the child can be comfortable and protected.
Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect
Any and all Albuquerque Public Schools employees knowing or reasonably suspecting that a child has suffered injury or injuries (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological) as a result of abuse or neglect shall immediately report the matter to New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) at (505) 841-6100, 800-797-3260, or cyfd.org
Albuquerque Public Schools Police Involvement
Albuquerque Public Schools Police do not investigate all reported child abuse cases, only those which actually occur on a school campus. However, district staff shall notify Albuquerque Public Schools Police when reporting instances of child abuse or neglect even if Albuquerque Public Schools Police may not be the investigative body. Albuquerque Public Schools Police may assist district personnel in the reporting process.
Questioning Child Abuse Victims
In compliance with guidance from the District Attorney’s office, district personnel shall not assume the responsibility or duty to determine the validity of an allegation. New Mexico state law and regulation places responsibility for the investigation of child abuse on the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and the local law enforcement agency. Representatives of these agencies shall be experienced and trained in child abuse interview techniques. To avoid legal problems and also to minimize further trauma to the child, especially in sex abuse cases, district staff shall not question the child in depth regarding the abuse. Using the guidelines below, district staff shall elicit just enough information to satisfy a reasonable suspicion that abuse did occur. District staff shall avoid asking leading questions. Questioning guidelines are as follows:
a) Where was the child touched? b) Who touched the child? c) When did this happen? d) Where did this happen?
a) Who did this? b) How did it happen? c) When did it happen? d) Where did it happen?
NOTE: District staff shall not probe the child for details or information as that is the job of law enforcement and Children, Youth and Families social workers. A well-intentioned interrogation may severely damage any legal case.
If the child is very open, detailed, and talkative about the incident, district staff shall absorb as much as possible. More information is always welcome - questioning and probing is not.
Child Abuse/Neglect Investigators
The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and law enforcement agencies assign investigators to child abuse/neglect cases. These investigators may need to interview the alleged victim at school, even if the school was not involved in making the report.
It is permissible to allow these investigators access to the child under the following conditions:
- the administrative office shall check the identification card of any investigator to confirm employment of the investigator
- All legitimate investigators carry identification with photographs
- the administrative office shall call and notify Albuquerque Public Schools Police of the presence of investigators at their school.
In compliance with state law, school authorities shall cooperate and not interfere with any child abuse investigation. These investigators may also access school records for purposes of their investigation.
Albuquerque Public Schools personnel not involved in hearing the child's disclosure shall not sit in on the investigator's interview unless specifically requested by the investigator to do so. Should an investigator request staff to sit in, be aware that one has the right to refuse and that one’s presence during the interview may subject one to subpoena as a witness during a criminal trial.
Notifying Parents and Release of Children
Release of Children
No student shall be removed from campus for purposes of a child abuse investigation unless the child has been taken into "protective custody" by a law enforcement officer. Children, Youth and Families Department investigators do not have the authority to remove a student from school unless a custody action has been effected by a law enforcement officer first.
It shall be the practice of Albuquerque Public Schools to make a good faith effort to notify the parent/legal guardian of any interrogation by Children, Youth and Families Department and/or law enforcement of their student as long as that contact does not violate a confidentiality agreement or jeopardize the safety or protection of the student. In the event a student is taken into custody, Albuquerque Public Schools Police shall immediately make a good faith effort to notify the parent/legal guardian unless directed not to do so by the law enforcement officer. Parents also shall be advised to call Children, Youth and Family Department for any further information regarding their child.
All information regarding known or suspected child abuse/neglect cases shall be treated with the utmost confidentiality. It shall not be discussed, even within the school, except on a need-to-know basis.
Penalties and Immunity
In compliance with state statute and regulation, the following provisions shall apply:
Any person convicted of failing, neglecting, or refusing to report, as required by law, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and may be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year.
Anyone reporting an instance of alleged child abuse or neglect or participating in a judicial proceeding brought as a result of a report is presumed to be acting in good faith and shall be immune from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed by law unless the person acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose.
Educational neglect shall be interpreted to be chronic absences, excessive tardiness, or failure to be enrolled in an appropriate school setting where, in the judgment of the principal and/or designee the student's fundamental right to an appropriate education is being denied or impeded.
Reporting Educational Neglect
The child shall be referred to Children, Youth and Family Department when, in the judgment of school personnel, a child is educationally neglected by parent(s) or guardian(s).
The Children, Youth and Family Department may conduct the inquiry. A decision shall be made concerning returning the child to school, or referring the situation to the Department of Human Services Legal Division for filing a petition of Educational Neglect.
If the child is returned to school, school personnel shall have responsibility for monitoring attendance. If attendance does not improve, the Children, Youth and Family Department shall be advised.
If parent(s) or guardian(s) are referred to the Department of Human Services Legal Division, the Children, Youth and Family Department shall advise the appropriate school personnel of the disposition.
Administrative Position: Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources/Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Support
Department Director: Director of Health and Wellness
Legal Cross Ref.:
- §22-5-14 NMSA 1978
- §32A-4-3 NMSA 1978
Board Policy Cross Ref.:
Procedural Directive Cross Ref.:
NSBA/NEPN Classification: JLF
Revised: May 1995
Revised: April 1996
Revised: May 1997
Revised: May 2000
Revised: June 2005
Reviewed: August 26, 2011
Revised: October 21, 2011