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NSBA leads education groups urging Supreme Court to protect teachers required to report child abuse

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), joined by the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), and 15 other national organizations filed an amicus brief, “friend of the court” in the U.S. Supreme Court in Schott v. O’Reilly (formerly Wenk v. O’Reilly) urging the Court to protect teachers and other school officials from claims arising out of their mandatory obligation to report instances of suspected child abuse. The case concerns whether teachers or other school personnel - required by state law to serve as mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse - are entitled to qualified immunity.

The case asks the Court to hear and overturn a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee) that makes mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse vulnerable to federal claims brought by an alleged abuser. NSBA and its joint amici argue that mandatory reporting requirements exist to protect the safety of children by encouraging reports of suspected abuse. To deny a teacher’s qualified immunity when he or she makes such a statutorily mandated report, could chill the decision to report suspected abuse. The failure to report diminishes the opportunity that the suspected abuse will be uncovered and stopped, increasing potential harm to children.

“It is a societal obligation to establish policy that protects children from further abuse at the earliest point possible,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, NSBA. “Subjecting school personnel to federal claims of retaliation risk having a chilling effect on school officials’ good faith efforts to report suspected abuse.”

More information can be found in our full press release.

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