NEWS RELEASE: San Diego Unified Board Unanimously Approves Task Force Recommendations to Strengthen a Culture of Reporting to Protect Students

Posted: Thursday, January 30th 2020


SAN DIEGO – The Board of Education unanimously approved all 19 recommendations of the Multi-Agency Task Force to Recommend Comprehensive Strategies and Protocols for Inter-Agency Cooperation for the Protection of District Students. 

Superintendent Cindy Marten outlined substantive actions to strengthen a culture of reporting, including addressing concerns of district staff, parents and students. The board’s support of the actions will better protect students, engage parents and inform district staff of the responsibilities of mandated reporters. 

“Fostering a culture of reporting where students, staff and parents feel safe to report child abuse or sexual harassment begins with me, and I am committed to leading a district where everyone feels safe to report,” Superintendent Marten said.

 

The recommendations include:

  • San Diego Police Department (SDPD) committed to provide School Police with all case disposition, as available, and present quarterly training to School Police on legal updates and best practices. SDPD also agreed to accept reports from School Police via email.  
  • The District Attorney established the new Student Safety in School Systems Task Force and hotline to report child abuse.  The agency also advocated for implementation of Electronic Suspected Child Abuse Reporting System (ESCARS), a web-based system allows for agencies to “cross-report” and share information related to suspected child      abuse.   
  • The City Attorney will develop a public service announcement for students to understand what behavior may constitute a crime.    
  • The County Office of Education committed to disseminate the District Attorney’s Mandated Reporting information campaign to all county school districts.

 

The district convened the task force to close the gaps between the leading agencies charged with the protection of children.   

Chair of the Task Force and San Diego Unified District School Police Chief Michael Marquez said, “I want to thank the task force members, including our regional partners, for their time and commitment to the important issue of student safety.  Our students will benefit from the work of the task force.”

School Police took immediate action and added a child abuse reporting section on its Crime Stoppers smart phone app. Chief Marquez has established a monthly roundtable with SDPD and regional partners to receive updates on all cases referred by school police to the appropriate agency.

“Schools play an essential role in helping us prevent, identify and respond to child abuse and neglect.  Child Welfare Services looks forward to an ongoing partnership that will enhance the reporting of and response to child abuse and neglect,” said Kimberly Giardina, Director of Child Welfare Services.

Child Welfare Services (CWS) has committed to increase the number of children who receive high-quality forensic interviews following an allegation of abuse, from 100 to 1,000, in the coming years. CWS works principally with abuse that happens in the home and with students living in foster care settings.

“I’m confident the work of San Diego Unified’s Task Force will go a long way in building practices that are focused squarely on protecting and promoting the safety of children in our community,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “When it comes to the welfare of students it’s critical that we take every opportunity to collaborate with various key stakeholders.”

At the direction of the Board of Education, the task force was established on September 24, 2019 to identify potential areas for improvement regarding collaboration between the various agencies working to protect children from sexual harassment and abuse. For more information about the Multi-Agency Task Force, please visit https://www.sandiegounified.org/multi-agency-task-force-protection-students

To download and view B-roll from the event, click on the Google Drive link here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Y1JrTtuRUu5iTevEyX-mRUePG--x9Zax/view?usp=sharing

Enclosed with the B-roll are shots from inside the Eugene Brucker Education Center Auditorium at 4100 Normal Street, including: wide shots of the room, wide shots of the audience, close shots of audience members, shots of the board members, and shots of the meeting; 

Also included with the B-roll are the following interview clips:

Interview 1:

Name: Tracy Prior

Title: Chief of Family Protection, Office of the District Attorney

Interview 2:

Name: Michael Marquez

Title: Police Chief, San Diego Unified District School Police Chief

Interview 3:

Name: Kimberly Giardina

Title: Director, Child Welfare Services

 

CONTACT:  Maureen Magee, Communications Director, (619) 381-7930.

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