HARRISBURG, May 7, 2014 – The state Senate today unanimously approved Sen. Wayne D. Fontana’s (D-Brookline) bill that would toughen child abuse reporting requirements in schools.

Senate Bill 31 now goes to the governor for enactment.

“This bill will help protect our children and clarify the reporting responsibilities of those who work in our schools,” Fontana said. “I’m heartened by today’s unanimous vote.”

First introduced in 2005, the Fontana bill does away with the separate reporting requirement for schools and mandates that suspected child abuse be reported directly to DPW’s Childline (1-800-932-0313) and the school’s administrator. The measure, which would take effect on December 31, would remove the different reporting requirement for school employees and put them on the same level as other mandated reporters.

The Brookline lawmaker said he introduced the bill after receiving a call from a distraught mother who said her son had been transported from school to an emergency room. The child had bleeding brush burns, choke marks around his neck and broken blood vessels in his face — all caused by a teacher. Fontana said that even though the mother, emergency room doctor and social worker all tried reporting the incident to Childline, they were told that the law prevented investigation because the injuries were not deemed serious enough.

Last year, the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Task Force on Child Protection included Fontana’s proposal in its package of recommended bills. The task force was created by the General Assembly to thoroughly review state laws and procedures governing child protection and the reporting of child abuse. It issued a report last year that called for numerous changes to Pennsylvania’s laws.

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