The mandatory reporting law applies to teachers and a host of other professionals and volunteer workers, such as doctors, guidance counselors, child welfare agency personnel, law enforcement officers and therapists.
The 16-year-old had been a student of May’s at River Ridge, but the teenager transferred to Roswell High at the end of the fall 2010 semester. The student began a sexual relationship with Robert Leslie Morrow, a River Ridge wrestling coach and paraprofessional, during the Christmas break.
In January 2011, the student, who had returned to River Ridge to watch a basketball game, told May she once had a sexual relationship with Morrow, the ruling said. At that time, the ruling said, May was having an affair with Morrow.
Seven months later, the student told police about her relationship with Morrow. Authorities then arrested both Morrow and May — he for sexual assault and she for failing to report child abuse.
Morrow was convicted earlier this year on a felony sexual assault charge and sentenced to 240 days in detention and 10 years on probation.
May’s lawyers challenged the accusations in pretrial motions. But a trial judge rejected them, reasoning that a schoolteacher is required to report the abuse of any child, even one with whom the teacher has no relationship.
The state Supreme Court on Monday overturned that decision, saying the obligation to report is limited to teachers who “attend” their students.
Exactly what that means — and how it can or cannot be applied — will have to be determined by the court in a future challenge.
Whether a schoolteacher “attends” a child pursuant to his or her duties may present a question of fact in some cases, Blackwell noted.
“(F)or instance, when the child is not assigned to the class of the teacher, but the child is enrolled as a student at the same school,” Blackwell wrote. “This, however, is no such case.”