Suspected Child Abuse Not Immediately Reported By School

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The Benton County School of the Arts, a charter school in Rogers, did not report suspected child abuse this week as required by state law, according to Superintendent Paul Hines. 

Hines would not go on camera but told 5NEWS the school should have immediately reported what happened.

Teachers at schools are mandatory reporters by law. That means they must immediately call the child abuse hotline if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to child maltreatment or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment.

Keith Foster, with the Rogers Police Department, explains "counselors, teachers, physicians, dentists, nurses, attorneys, prosecuting attorneys or basically any government official that's working in an official capacity," are all mandated reporters by law.

"The law says that these people shall immediately contact the Child Abuse Hotline," said Foster. "Anytime the law says shall that means you have to do it. It's not really an option."

A 12-year-old middle school boy told authorities at the school Monday that teacher Pamela Nelson hit him in the back. The school alerted its lawyer but not the state police hotline until the day after the alleged incident happened. 

Hines said he and other administrators were busy addressing the issue and unintentionally neglected to alert the hotline. They did alert the hotline the next day, on Tuesday. 

The school board fired Pamela Nelson on Tuesday. Police arrested her the same day. She was released on bond Wednesday. 

For more information about state laws regarding suspected child abuse, CLICK HERE.