I-Team: CCSD Changes Procedures to Protect Abused Children - 8 News NOW

I-Team: CCSD Changes Procedures to Protect Children

Posted: Updated:
Roderick "RJ" Arrington Roderick "RJ" Arrington

LAS VEGAS -- Twice during the previous school year students, who told Clark County School District employees they were being abused, went home without help and later died.

To prevent another tragedy, the district has spent nearly a year examining how it responds to child abuse. The result is new policies and procedures that may save a life.

The Clark County School District's current child abuse reporting policy is a single page. When compared with the policy from the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is 30 pages, it looks thin.

CCSD has been reviewing various policies as it overhauls its reporting procedures with the hope the changes will better protect kids.

Roderick Arrington's voice fell silent late last year allegedly at the hands of his mother and stepfather. According to reports obtained by the I-Team, the second grader told school personnel, he endured regular beatings with a broom handle, a television cord and a belt. He also lifted his shirt to reveal  "extensive scarring" on his back.

School officials contacted Child Protective Services but allowed RJ to go home before investigators responded. Police believe his parents shook and beat him into a coma that night. Two days later, he was dead.

"Something like the RJ Arrington case is just a tragedy. It's terrible," said Kirsten Searer, chief of staff and external relations for the Clark County School District.

"We want to make sure we provide the best training to our employees so that they are empowered and informed when they encounter these sort of situations because unfortunately they see abuse everyday," Searer said.

RJ's death, and before him the death of 12-year-old Austin Mercado from medical neglect, prompted the district to review and revamp its child abuse reporting policies. Going forward, all employees, not just licensed professionals will be required to report child abuse and neglect immediately.

The district also plans an internal hotline for those with questions. Later this year, all 38,000 CCSD employees we be re-trained with a mandatory video, produced in cooperation with the district's counselors, nurses, school police and Clark County's Department of Family Services.

"I think one of the worst positions you can be put in is if a kid tells you something awful and you want to help that student and you don't know what to do or you can't get anyone to listen to you. So we want to make sure that it's all spelled out clearly for them and that we have plenty of methods for them to contact outside people for help," Searer said.

Among those contacts will be school police officers. While school police don't have jurisdiction to investigate abuse at home, they can and now do respond whenever a school reports physical or sexual abuse to Child Protective Services.

"This is minimal when it comes down to the safety and security of a child," said Sgt. Mitch Mackiszak, CCSD Police Department.

"Our idea with having an officer standby is, should someone not be able to respond due to other emergencies, we can take a look at that child, access the situation and make sure this child will be safe going home that day," he said.

"I can't imagine what work we have that's more important than protecting our kids," Searer said.

The Department of Family Services believes the partnership with the school district will not only benefit both entities, but will improve the outcomes for kids.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.