The Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District is discussing plans to go above state-mandated staff training for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect this week.
The discussion comes on the heels of the arrest and conviction of former school custodian Andre Edwards earlier this year for sexual misconduct with a student in 2010. He is currently serving a nine-month jail term as part of a plea deal. He was also alleged to have engaged in similar activity with a student in 2001, however, that case was not prosecuted.
At the Board of Trustees’ Thursday night meeting, the board will discuss extending the state Legislature’s mandated one-time training requirement to be bi-yearly, beginning this year. All district staff members are mandated reporters for suspected child abuse or neglect and each must sign a statement prior to employment confirming that he/she has knowledge of his/her mandated reporter duties.
“The last couple of years have been difficult,” said Board President Robert Tashjian. “As a parent and board member, it’s horrifying. One of the basic requirements of the district is to keep students safe. It’s imperative that all staff, not just teachers, have training.”
The district is proposing to set a higher standard than that required by law for mandated reporter training for suspected child abuse or neglect, according to a staff report, with direction from Superintendent Michael Milliken.
Milliken said he is looking for guidance on these practices from the board and is open to the board formalizing these plans.
“It’s a matter of an ongoing effort to ensure student safety,” Milliken said. “Regular reminders are a better way to institutionalize awareness.”
The district is proposing to retrain all staff this fall and to institutionalize retraining so staff is periodically reminded of their responsibilities as mandated reporters and reminded of the warning signs for child abuse and neglect. Currently, its plans for this fall are to provide a one- to two-hour training for all employees, with a one-hour retraining conducted every other year.
“We believe that with the initial retraining this fall, there will likely be many questions from staff, so we believe a longer training meeting may be appropriate,” the report stated.
The rationale for future retrainings being approximately one hour is that length of time is consistent with the length of training provided by San Mateo County Counsel, the report stated.
Staff members who miss the in-person training would be expected to make up the session with an online training.
The meeting is 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 in the district office, 2960 Hallmark Drive in Belmont.