One of the oldest questions asked of union members by one another is “Which side are you on?” Sometimes this is an important question for us to ask. When we struggle to preserve and improve our terms and conditions of employment or when we fight employment injustice, the sides can be as clear as day.
At other times, our roles as good citizens and professionals make our responsibilities more complex. Child abuse and neglect is a terrible fact of life. Malicious accusations that are designed to impugn someone’s character is another terrible fact of life. This Member Rights Q&A is designed to help our members understand their rights and responsibilities relative to the reporting of child abuse. More complete information has been provided to all Association Representatives and members may call the WTEA office at any time for clarifications.
Are we required to report any suspicion we may have that child abuse or neglect is taking place?
By law, any person having a reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected is required to immediately notify the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). The telephone number for DYFS is 1-800-792-8610. Failure to report such knowledge could result in criminal prosecution.
Can a report to DYFS be made anonymously?
You can make a report in one of three ways: 1-By openly giving your name and relationship to the child; 2-By asking that your name and relationship to the child be kept confidential, although there is no guarantee that your identity will not become known during the investigation; 3- By making your report anonymously from a secure telephone line. In thi event, keep a record of your call and the person to whom you spoke.
Do I have any legal exposure if I make a report of child abuse or neglect to DYFS?
A person who makes a good faith report to DYFS or who testifies in a child abuse hearing is immune from civil or criminal liability for their report or testimony.
What should I do if I am called into an administrator’s office without knowing the purpose of a meeting?
Ask if the meeting is investigatory and if it could lead to disciplinary action or a negative impact on your employment. If the answer is “yes” you have a right to representation. If the matter is related to DYFS, you have the right to seek the assistance of an attorney before making a statement. You invoke this right be citing your “Banca Rights”. If the matter is not related to DYFS, you have rights under “Weingarten”, which means that you have a right to Association representation at the meeting. We have addressed Weingarten issues in a previous Q&A. In the event that you discover that you are the subject of a DYFS investigation, you should immediately contact a member of the WTEA or NJEA staff. If you are called to a meeting and told that the meeting could not lead to disciplinary action but subsequently feel uncomfortable about the direction of the meeting, request that the meeting be terminated until you have appropriate representation.
This is the minimum information that every Association member needs to know. Presently, we will be sending you another Member Rights Q&A on related issues.
Member Rights Chairman
February 29, 2008
Created August 2013