Utah law provides that law enforcement or DCFS are responsible for child abuse and neglect investigations, and school officials have a statutory duty to cooperate with duly authorized investigators. When an investigator comes to a school to investigate child abuse or neglect (as instructed by the Utah State Office of Education), please do the following:
- Make sure the investigator is legitimate (some child snatches have reportedly been undertaken in other states by phony investigators); ask to see identification and if necessary, and confirm the investigator’s identity with the employing agency. Make a photocopy/electronic copy of the investigator’s credentials. Keep this copy with the completed "Notice of Investigation" form (found in the "Resources" section of this manual.
- Formally turn the child over to the investigator, announcing in the child’s presence something similar to, “I am turning this child over to you in accordance with your request; you are responsible for taking any steps necessary to protect the rights of the child, the parents, and any other persons involved.” Some schools have the investigator sign a statement assuming those responsibilities.
- Refrain from contacting parents, do not ask to participate in the interview, or any other action unless directed by the investigator. If the investigator asks for the administrator to be present; do so, but say in the presence of the investigator and the child, “I am here solely as a support person to the child.” Do not prompt the child or answer for the child. (Do not let yourself become vulnerable to liability which would not otherwise exist.)
- If a parent calls about the interview, advise the parent that under the law the school may neither confirm nor deny that an interview has taken place, that all such investigations are the responsibility of the Division of Child and Family Services and law enforcement, and that those agencies should be contacted if there are any questions.
School personnel at all levels must treat any information that they receive related to a child abuse investigation with confidentiality, beginning with the initial contact by the assigned investigator. This is all confidential information regardless of the nature of the abuse or suspected identity of the abuser. This approach will leave the responsibility where the law places it, and will allow early intervention efforts to protect children (Utah Code R277-401-3).
On occasion, a district employee shall receive a subpoena for student records and/or testimony. In these rare circumstances the employee shall immediately notify their principal or Administrator with a copy of the subpoena or notification from the court. The principal or Administrator shall then shall contact their Administrator of Schools and/or Planning and Student Services for guidance on how to proceed (JSD Policy DP340).
When a record is subpoenaed, only provide what already exists. Documents are never “created”; opinions given; nor are sides taken in favor of one party over another.
If a CASA volunteer (Guardian ad Litem) visits your school, ask for proof of ID and have them fill out the same form as a DCFS worker.