State senator working to change state child protection law



PITTSBURGH - State Sen. Wayne Fontana is working to change a law that doesn't require schools to report abuse of any kind to an outside agency.

Under the current law, if a child becomes the victim of a physical or sexual assault on a bus or campus, an outside police agency may never be notified.

"To me it's very simple just to report and let the investigation occur," said Fontana.

Fontana said he has known about the loophole in the state's child protection law and has been trying hard to close that hole since 2005. He said since the Jerry Sandusky scandal and an ongoing investigation into misconduct of a Pittsburgh school police officer, the law should be changed.

Currently, Pennsylvania law requires school employees to report suspected child abuse to their supervisor, who may or may not decide to report it to law enforcement.

Fontana's Senate Bill 549 would require reporting to both so discretion of the school is removed.

"If the supervisor thinks that it was horseplay, for example, or there was nothing to it that really wasn't sexual abuse, they don't have to report it to anyone else. My bill takes that away," Fontana said.