Auditor general: 1 in 5 school districts need child abuse policies

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Before 2014, school personnel was required to report abuse or neglect concerns only to a supervisor. 

Now, the public school code requires them to first call Childline, the state’s child abuse hotline, to report any concerns.

“So, it’s a big shift to say the first place you go is outside the institution, then you tell inside,” said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children’s Justice.

Since 2014, about 79 percent of school districts have updated their policies to reflect this change, leaving 21 percent who had not. 

“That is 106 districts, more than a fifth of the state’s total, and where more than 244,000 children attend school,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said.

Those districts include Harrisburg, Lampeter-Strasburg, and West Perry. 

While the auditor general points out that there is no evidence of any children being harmed, the lack of updated policies still needs to be addressed. 

“It is as if they have not learned a single thing from the Jerry Sandusky debacle,” DePasquale said. 

One district had no policy whatsoever: Susquenita School District in Perry County. It is working with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association to adopt a policy. 

“That is, at least, some semblance of good news, but still kind of amazing that it took this long,” DePasquale said.

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