By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney Suppose five-year-old Lucas tells his Kindergarten teacher that his dad hits him and that is why he has a faint bruise on his leg. As a mandatory reporter under A.R.S. § 13-3620, Lucas’ teacher calls the DCS hotline and reports her “reasonable belief” that Lucas may be abused or […]
By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney Imagine you have a friend, Chloe, a lawyer who was prescribed pain meds after a car accident four years ago and ever since suffers from an unfortunate addiction to oxycodone. Chloe is also pregnant with her first child. When Chloe starts to go into labor, she arrives at St. […]
By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Originally Published in the Maricopa Lawyer, online edition available 08/08/21. Your client calls you saying the police and the Department of Child Safety (DCS) are at their door. You know your client is in the middle of a toxic divorce and brace for what is about to come next. “They […]
By: Markus Risinger and Deborah Lee The Arizona Court of Appeals recently touched upon the Arizona Parents’ Bill of Rights Act in Jessica P. v. Department of Child Safety. In that case, the mother argued that the juvenile court had a statutory duty to apply the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act and the failure to […]
Rumors & Mandatory Reporting: Zamora reminds us the reasonableness standard is opaque warranting caution when dealing with any allegation of abuse
Brittany Zamora has garnered nationwide attention for her nefarious sexual relationship with her 13-year-old student. Zamora recently pleaded guilty to several sexual abuse charges and is now facing a lengthy prison sentence. However, a lesser known civil suit also surfaced, claiming Zamora’s school district knew about the abuse months before the parents discovered it and did nothing to intervene. Given a failure to report child abuse constitutes a class 6 felony under Arizona law, we ought to be curious whether the district’s officials could be criminally liable, too.
Something that has confounded me since day one of practicing law in Phoenix, and all throughout the state of Arizona, is that DCS case managers frequently tell parents they are investigating for child abuse or neglect that they do not need a lawyer. Sure, the early stages of their investigation may not involve the Juvenile Court or the DCS lawyer (Arizona Attorney General’s Office), but it does involve the parents’ constitutionally protected, fundamental right to parent their children.
I frequently get calls from parents who have come home to find a DCS note on their door. It is usually a business card from a DCS investigator requesting that the parent contact them immediately.