Meier v. Salem-Keizer School Dist.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Family Law
  • Date Filed: 03-22-2017
  • Case #: A155836
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Shorr, J. Dissenting
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 419B.010(1), the “reasonable cause” standard that triggers a mandatory reporter’s obligation to report child abuse is equivalent to a “reasonable suspicion,” based on inferences that can be drawn from the circumstances.

Salem-Keizer School District appealed an order from the Fair Dismissal Appeals Board (FDAB). The District fired Counselor after Counselor, a mandatory reporter, failed to report that a student had disclosed an instance of sexual abuse. FDAB reversed the dismissal, concluding as a matter of law that Counselor did not have reasonable cause to conclude that the student had described sexual contact. The District argued that FDAB erred in concluding that the student’s statements did not amount to reportable sexual abuse as a matter of law. The Court held that under the mandatory reporting statute, “reasonable cause” to believe that child abuse occurred is correctly interpreted as “reasonable suspicion,” a standard that depends on inferences drawn from the circumstances.  The Court held that FDAB did not err in concluding that, given the surrounding circumstances and Counselor’s training and experience, Counselor did not have reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse. Affirmed.

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