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School board approves new policy regarding child abuse

Sanford Herald - 2/13/2020

Feb. 12--A new policy about reporting child abuse was approved Tuesday by the Lee County Board of Education.

The change was mandated as the result of a state Senate bill, adopted in October, that revises reporting and training requirements for school employees, contractors and volunteers.

School employees are now required to report any suspected cases of child abuse to local law enforcement in addition to school district administration and the Department of Social Services. Anyone who fails to do so is subject to disciplinary, civil litigation or criminal action, according to the statute. Failure to report is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Lee County schools employees will be required to receive yearly training on how to spot signs of child sex abuse and sex trafficking.

The new information will be integrated into the district's existing training program starting in 2020-21, according to Johnnye Waller, assistant superintendent for Auxiliary Services and Director of Student Services.

The training will include information about child abuse prevention, the grooming process of sexual predators, warning signs of sexual abuse and sex trafficking, and how to intervene in cases of sexual abuse or sex trafficking, according to the policy.

The revised policy will be put to a second vote at a future board meeting before undergoing final approval.

Also Tuesday, the board approved two new high school courses to be offered in 2020-21 -- Forensic Science and Introduction to Sports and Athletic Fields Management.

The sports and athletic fields class will teach students about maintaining and preparing school athletic fields and using maintenance equipment.

Forensic Science is an honors class. Students will learn how to collect and analyze physical evidence including fingerprints, hairs, fibers and cartridge cases, according to the course description. Students will also study the history and legal aspects of forensic science.

Reach Reporter Jasmine Gallup at 919-718-1217.

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