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CEA Supporting Legislation to Remove Stigma of Unsubstantiated Allegations

CEA attorney Chris Hankins told the legislature's Committee on Children that

CEA attorney Chris Hankins told the legislature’s Committee on Children that innocent educators need to be protected from long-lasting, negative stigma.

CEA is speaking out on behalf of innocent educators who, although cleared of wrongdoing, continue to bear the stigma of being labeled “alleged perpetrators” by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). CEA attorney Chris Hankins yesterday spoke on behalf of these educators before the Connecticut Legislature’s Committee on Children, saying that keeping records on these individuals as is statutorily required, serves no purpose other than to devastate upstanding, dedicated teachers.

Hankins said that the vast majority of DCF allegations against teachers come back unsubstantiated. Yet, even when evidence clearly indicates that a teacher could not have been involved as alleged, the DCF is required to keep records of the allegations against the teacher on file for five years.

That is why CEA is supporting Raised Bill 926, An Act Concerning Unsubstantiated Allegations of Abuse or Neglect by School Employees. The bill would require that, when a DCF investigation finds that an allegation against an educator is unsubstantiated, records about the allegation be expunged no more than five days after the completion of the investigation.

The safety and well-being of their students is of utmost importance to educators, and Hankins said that DCF does a great job finding and holding accountable individuals who pose a risk to children. Unfortunately, innocent educators are sometimes caught up in investigations.

Hankins, along with CEA’s other two legal counsels Melanie Kolek and Adrienne Delucca, represents CEA members involved in DCF investigations. Hankins said that, “In 2014 alone, there were two separate instances where a total of 11 teachers were labeled as ‘alleged perpetrators’ for fabricated incidents on the playground during recess when it was demonstrated that the child was not on the playground on the day in question or else the teachers were not assigned to recess duty.”

The “unsubstantiated list” kept by DCF of educators who have been cleared of all wrongdoing has no utility, as DCF claims, according to Hankins. “In reality, in the over eight hundred DCF investigations that have been handled by the CEA Legal Department over the past thirteen years, not one teacher who has been place on this ‘unsubstantiated list’ has ever been subsequently substantiated,” he said.

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