Recent Amendments to the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (“ANCRA”) Provide Guidance on School Districts and District Employees’ Rights During a DCFS Investigation

Sep 18, 2017

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On August 18, 2017, Public Acts 100-0176 and 100-0191 were signed into law amending certain provisions of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (“ANCRA”) and providing some clarity on the rights of school districts and their employees during a pending DCFS investigation.

Public Act 100-0176 provides that while the Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”) may recommend the removal of a school district employee under investigation pending the outcome of an investigation, “all employment decisions regarding school personnel shall be the sole responsibility of the school district or employer.  The Department may not require a school district to remove a school employee from his or her employment position or limit the school employee’s duties pending the outcome of an investigation.” (Emphasis added).

Additionally, Public Act 100-0191 provides that a school employee who is under investigation for abuse or neglect shall be entitled to the following due process rights (and informed of those rights by DCFS):

(i)            the right to a copy of the investigation summary;

(ii)           the right to review the specific allegations which gave rise to the investigation; and

(iii)          the right to an administrator’s teleconference which shall be convened to provide the school employee with the opportunity to present documentary evidence or other information that supports his or her position and to provide information before a final finding is entered.

Public Act 100-0191 also removes language which obligates DCFS to inform a school employee under investigation of his or her right to confront the accuser if the accuser is 14 years of age or older.

These amendments provide some much needed guidance to district administration in these oftentimes difficult and complex investigations. 

The amendments are effective January 1, 2018.