What is Abuse or Assault of a Student in Arizona? | Arizona Teacher Child Abuse
What is considered either abuse or assault of a student in Arizona?
First, we’ll start with abuse. Arizona statutes define abuse as anything that can affect a child’s safety, health, or well-being. Abuse is a broad term. It can mean verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Anything that’s going to affect, as I said, their health, safety, or well-being.
Arizona State Board Procedures
And so, school districts, if they find any credible allegations, will investigate. They will likely speak to the victim involved, students, parents, or other staff. Furthermore, they may hand out discipline at the school level, which can be administrative leave—paid or unpaid.
They can ask you to resign, or they can terminate your contract. Schools are mandated reporters if there are credible allegations of abuse involving a student victim. So they will report you to the State Board of Education. Then there will be an investigation into your license.
They’ll also notify local authorities. So the police department will investigate, and child protective services will conduct an additional investigation. Any allegations of abuse are severe, and it’s a broad term.
What Counts as Assault and Abuse?
Assault is any physical harm or causing bodily harm to a student. And this is defined in the Arizona state statutes as well. So, it’s causing damage or causing an apprehension of immediate harm to the student. You don’t have to cause the injury physically, but if the student believes that it’s immediate, in that situation, that also could be considered assault.
Now, the assault would also potentially be looped in with a student’s abuse. Again, we’re talking about health, safety, and well-being. Likewise, schools are mandated reporters. If there are any credible allegations of assault, the school will report you to the State Board of Education. And local authorities, police, and child protective services would likely investigate. These are all very serious.
Find a Lawyer Who Can Represent You
If accused of any of this, I recommend consulting, if not having an attorney represent you. If it goes to the State Board of Education, there’s an investigation against your license. There are guidelines for the type of discipline that they would hand down.
It’s likely that if you come to a negotiated settlement or it’s contested, you have a hearing before the Professional Practices Advisory Committee. They have a finding of facts and conclusions of law where they find that there was abuse or assault of a student. It’s dire.
They would either suspend you for some time or revoke your teaching license.
Other topics of interest:
- Can an Arizona Teacher Get In Trouble for Lying on an Application?
- Arizona Teacher Sexual Relationship with a Student Issues
Arizona Teacher Sexual Relationship with a Student
What are the issues if there’s ever an allegation of a teacher having a relationship of sexual nature with a student?
So, the school would likely start there. If the school found a credible allegation of a sexual relationship, they’d possibly immediately put the educator on administrative leave. If not, ask for the resignation or terminate them immediately. And when I say sexual relationship, I also include sexual abuse. So, these are very serious.
Sexual Relationship or Sexual Abuse with a Minor
The school is a mandated reporter, so they likely immediately report this to local authorities or police. Also, police will be investigating this because it is a crime. The department of child services may investigate as well.
Furthermore, they’ll report you to the State Board of Education. They’ll conduct their investigation if they think there’s a finding of any relationship of sexual nature or abuse with a minor. It can mean communications, physical, social media, etc. It is more of a broad term.
You want to be very careful to understand that. It is taken very seriously, of course, by all those administrative agencies. There would likely be a hearing at the state board level unless you decided or agreed to revoke your license.
If not, they would conduct an administrative hearing with the Professional Practices Advisory Committee.
Teacher License Revocation
They would make a finding of fact and conclusions of law if they did think there was a finding that there’s a relationship of sexual nature or abuse.
According to the State Board of Education guidelines, they would revoke the educator’s license if there was any relationship or abuse. It’s serious because the offense is severe. And so, that’s where it would usually go.
The Professional Practices Advisory Committee would then take their findings to the State Board of Education. And they would likely either affirm, deny, or amend their conclusions. Again, you may attend an administrative hearing at the state level if you disagree with the discipline.
Victim, Parents, and Staff Interview
At the school level, people would likely ask you to resign or terminate you. The investigation starts at the school level and would involve an interview with the victim or all the students involved. Maybe the alleged victim’s parents, family, and staff. They would go through communications that you allegedly had with the victim. And they might even look at video or audio evidence.
What Can Happen When an Arizona Teacher Verbally Abuses a Student?
What happens when a teacher is under accusation of verbally abusing a student?
First, I’ll talk about it at the school level and then at the State Board of Education level. What might happen against your teacher license?
Suppose the school reasonably suspects that there is verbal abuse against a student. In that case, they’ll likely investigate, and you’ll get disciplinary action at the school level.
What might this look like? You may be put on administrative leave and may or may not receive payment. You may undergo termination or request to resign.
The school district would also likely conduct its investigation. They would probably talk to the student, potentially the parent or parents, if there’s any communication between a teacher and the student. It might mean anything written or if there’s any video or audio evidence. They would also review that.
Suppose they reasonably suspect that verbal abuse did happen against this student. Then the following gets the mandate to report:
- School districts
- Public schools
- Private schools
- Charter schools
So they would note this. They’ll report this to the local authorities if they reasonably suspect a teacher. It means that the local police will open an investigation. They’ll also notify you of the State Board of Education.
Rights of Teachers for an Investigation
There may be an investigation for immoral or unprofessional conduct. We’ll get into that, but the state board may hand down discipline against your license and notify child protective services.
Verbal abuse, or any abuse, has a definition in Arizona statutes. It’s anything that can affect students’ safety, health, or well-being. So, if you verbally affected the student’s well-being somehow. Then, the school would likely find that there was potentially some verbal abuse and implement disciplinary actions previously stated.
At the state level, again, this is immoral or unprofessional conduct. They would conduct their investigation. You can negotiate a settlement, so you can agree on if there’s any discipline.
There are only four types of discipline at the state board level. You will get a letter of:
- Suspension with conditions
- Revocation of the educator’s license
- They also take into consideration any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
So, they’ll look at the whole situation and its facts; a grant of hearing with the Professional Practices Advisory Committee if you can’t agree. This hearing is much like an administrative hearing.
You can put on the following:
- Examine witnesses
- Represented by an attorney.
They’ll make a finding of fact and conclusions of law. Then, decide on what discipline they think applies to your situation.
After their finding, they’ll hand that to the State Board of Education. The board will either affirm, amend, or deny their recommendations. Then you’ll receive your discipline.
There are guidelines for discipline by the State Board of Education. Verbal abuse, though, is a gray area. It’s not precisely specified. Abuse of a student is, but they don’t define if that’s physical, verbal, or emotional. Sexual abuse is, and it is defined.
But verbal abuse is a little bit trickier. So, you want to be careful.
Arizona Teacher Abuse Investigation
What happens when a teacher is under investigation for an allegation of abuse?
So, to go over the general process when a teacher is under investigation in the public school setting, charter school, and sometimes in the private school setting here in Arizona, I’m mainly speaking grades K-12.
They will notify you that you are under investigation by your school district or by your school. They’ll also let you know what the actual complaint is or what the allegation is. Subsequently, they will put you on administrative leave. It can be paid or unpaid, so you will not be able to return to school.
When put on administrative leave, they’ll send you a language saying you cannot contact anyone at the school district. It includes students, parents, and staff unless it’s someone in HR or legal. If you need anything, you can reach out to those contacts. But other than that, it’s no contact. And you may not come back and fulfill your position until the investigation is over.
Abuse Towards Students
Today, I’m specifically talking about an abuse allegation, specifically abuse towards students. Now, this could be physical or emotional abuse. The list goes on from there. It also depends on what type of abuse is alleged.
However, school districts are mandated reporters. If they find any validity to the allegation, they are mandated reporters and will report you to the local authorities. So, that’s the police. The police will also open an investigation and notify child protective services here in Arizona. It is scary and sets forth a chain of severe issues for your career and even criminally.
That said, you want to make sure that you are protected. Suppose an educator is under investigation for abuse. In that case, I always recommend advising an attorney. Having them represent you ensures you are aware of the process and advocating. They’re advocating for you for the best outcome possible.
What Does the Investigation Look Like?
When the school investigates abuse, they will likely talk to any students involved, parents, and staff. They may look at emails to see if there’s any communication involved. Honestly, it just varies depending on the situation. Cameras, if there are any like physical abuse allegations. The school will decide if they think that there is enough there. Again, if there is, they will report you to the State Board of Education.
There will be an investigation against your license and a criminal investigation. The school will inform you about the local authorities and child protective services.
Again, this can be overwhelming. I always recommend advising an attorney and having them represent you throughout this process. If they find these allegations unfounded, you’ll likely come back off administrative leave and then go on accordingly. They may make some recommendations on your parameters whenever you come back if it involves a student. And then, if they find that it is validated, they will likely terminate your contract or let you resign immediately.
There are lots of different outcomes. The biggest takeaway is that school safety is as severe as it should be. But you want to ensure that you’re protecting yourself. And know that they are reporting this to other boards and agencies within the state.
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