What Happens When an Education Employee Is Accused of Abuse or Neglect?

An educator’s primer on the process

The number of allegations of abuse or neglect made against public school employees is continuing to skyrocket. A great many of the allegations are ruled out — meaning no abuse or neglect occurred — but the investigation process is incredibly stressful for employees because of the negative impact on reputation and possible job consequences.

There are multiple agencies involved in the investigation of an allegation. The police and Child Protective Services (CPS) conduct their investigation first, followed by the school system’s own investigation. At an interview with police and/or CPS, the employee has the right to demand that their MSEA–provided attorney be present.

After the investigation, the police may or may not file criminal charges (typically assault). The findings of CPS will consist of: a ruled out finding; an indicated finding, which means there is evidence of abuse or neglect; or an unsubstantiated finding, which means that there is insufficient evidence that abuse/neglect existed, but there is a belief that something occurred and the employee is likely responsible. Formal appeals are possible in the case of an unsubstantiated or indicated finding. An indicated finding will, of course, have serious consequences, including possible termination.

As a member, you’ll have legal representation at all levels of the investigation — the police, CPS, and the school system.

What happens when an educator is accused of abuse or neglect?

• The employee is notified by administration that an allegation has been made although no details are ever provided.

• The employee is then ushered out of the school building and placed on administrative leave with pay.

• The employee is presumed guilty — this is the only profession where guilt is presumed before an investigation — and must prove their innocence, which is why the very next phone call should be to your UniServ director who will likely put you in contact with the MSEA–provided attorney.