A Microsoft Word version of this letter is available for download and PRINTING.
October 9, 2008
Administrators of Texas school districts, open-enrollment
Re: IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES INVESTIGATORS UNDER TEX. EDUC. CODE §22.0834
To the Administrator Addressed:
The purpose of this letter is to provide guidance on the identification requirements for Child Protective Services investigators (CPS) when they visit a school facility. Some Texas school entities are requiring CPS investigators to present their drivers licenses in order to gain access to children on school premises for the purposes of a CPS investigation and some are retaining a copy of the licenses and/or scanning them through the RAPTOR system. It is our opinion that the Legislature did not intend that CPS investigators and law enforcement personnel conducting investigations on school campuses be considered school contractors subject to the criminal history provisions of Texas Education Code (TEC) § 22.0834.
When acting in their official investigative capacities, CPS investigators and law enforcement officers are present on school district premises pursuant to statutory mandate and do not fall within the provisions applicable to school volunteers and contractors that require criminal history information to be obtained prior to contact by a volunteer or contractor with children in the school. Accordingly, the Commissioner’s rules to clarify the contractor criminal history provisions have been proposed, and as currently pending, would exclude a law enforcement officer or CPS worker present on school premises for official state business from the definition of a contract employee subject to TEC § 22.0834. This should prevent a conflict between § 22.0834 and a school’s duty to allow investigator access to school premises under Family Code § 261.302. The Texas Attorney General has held that a school official who conditions a CPS investigator’s access to a child at school may be guilty of interfering with a child abuse investigation. Opinion DM-476 (1998).
In the case of CPS investigators, rather than obtaining and recording driver’s license information, you may, as provided in TEC § 38.022, rely on the state-issued CPS photograph identification badge. A few examples of those badges are attached, which vary slightly from one CPS region to another, but all of which should contain a DFPS seal and an investigator photograph. If you have any concerns about whether the person presenting the badge is a current investigator for CPS, you may call the investigator’s supervisor in the regional office or check the following website to access personnel information: http://hhscx.hhsc.state.tx.us/mdb/EmplData/employee_search.asp. CPS has assured us that all its investigators undergo criminal history background checks as a condition of employment.
Thank you for your attention and efforts in this matter. Should you have any questions, please contact Andrew Allen, Senior Counsel, at (512) 936-8238.
Attachment - Photocopies of sample badges