Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
We all know that school officials are mandatory reporters and have to report suspected child molestation or neglect by parents. But, what about student-on-student sex crimes? What if school vice principals don’t report student sexual assaults to the police or county authorities? The school staff can be arrested and charged with a crime.
The Legal Duty to Report Student Sex Crimes
School officials are under legal obligation to report sexual abuse of minors to the police per California Penal Code section 11166(a)which states:
…a mandated reporter shall make a report to … [police or county probation or county welfare] whenever the mandated reporter, in the mandated reporter’s professional capacity or within the scope of the mandated reporter’s employment, has knowledge of or observes a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect.
This also encompasses reports of student-on-student sexual crimes, such as rape, sexual battery, improper sexual touching and otherwise.
Failure of School Officials to Report is a Crime
Under California Penal Code section 11166 (c) mandatory reporters (e.g. school staff) who don’t report suspected student abuse to police or other appropriate officials may be guilty of a misdemeanor:
A mandated reporter who fails to report an incident of known or reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect… is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months confinement in a county jail or by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by both that imprisonment and fine.
This is no joke. There is a reason there is a legal reporting mandate for school personnel- so sexual crimes to minors can be discovered and stopped.
School officials have a unique knowledge of student activities. Their failure to report sex crimes essentially lets the abuser get away with it, and tacitly supports the abuse. Lack of reporting also leaves the student victim unprotected and can land staff who failed to report in jail.
Covering Up the Failure to Report Makes the Crime Last Longer
Trying to hide the lack of reporting just makes the potential criminal charges extend out for the school employee per Penal Code section 11166(c).
If a mandated reporter intentionally conceals the mandated reporter’s failure to report an incident known by the mandated reporter to be abuse or severe neglect under this section, the failure to report is a continuing offense until an agency …discovers the offense.
And yes, school officials may try to hide their lack of reporting to try to protect their own skins. Don’t most people who do wrong try to cover their crime up?
California Assistant Principals Arrested for Failing to Report Student Rapes
In 2022, two Assistant Principals at Carter High School were arrested and taken to jail after they failed to report a student to the police, who had been reported as sexually assaulting 3 students. The sexual abuse (aka sexual battery) had purportedly taken place over a 5 month period, yet the police were apparently not told.
Meanwhile, the student roamed the halls, allegedly able to abuse additional female students. Had the student been reported the first time, maybe the student would have been in jail and some of the student victims never would have been victimized at all!
There are other examples of this, such as the 5 school staff arrested in Texas for covering up a sexual assault with a baseball bat perpetrated on a male student. What would make a school official NOT report such heinous acts to the police?
Sexual Battery is a Mandatory Expulsion Offense
In California, school officials also have to place students up for expulsion in sexual battery situations. A single inappropriate sexual touching may constitute sexual battery and should mean an immediate recommendation for expulsion.
It seems like the Vice Principals who were arrested for failure to report did not carry out their obligation to recommend expulsion.
Sexual assault allegations can end in expulsion for up to a year for an accused student.
If the School is Not Taking Action
If the school has not reported an alleged rapist or sexual predator to the police, the victim’s parents can report to the police themselves. Parents can also reach out to the Superintendent’s office for help.
Never should a predator be allowed to continue to roam the halls of a school assaulting female students! Failure of school officials to stop this, should be a crime.
Attorney for students Michelle Ball may become involved when schools don’t do the right thing, or defend a student in expulsion procedures. As an education lawyer in Sacramento, she can assist statewide in Stockton, Beverly Hills, Berkeley, Huntington Beach, Roseville, and many other locations.