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State v. Tanya James-Buhl, WSSC #94409-1

On October 31, 2017 WACDL filed an amicus brief in support of Ms. James-Buhl asking the WSSC to overturn a COA decision which reinstated charges dismissed by the trial court. The COA held that as a teacher Ms. James-Buhl was required to report under the mandatory reporting statute RCW 26.44.030(1) her daughters disclosure that the stepfather had touched them inappropriately finding that no course of employment could be imputed to the reporting requirement.


A parent who is also a licensed teacher has no duty to make a mandatory report under RCW 26.44.030(1)(a) when her children had not reported to her information that gave her reasonable cause to believe that any child had suffered abuse or neglect, and, she had no mandatory requirement to report as an adult residing with children because she had no reasonable cause to believe that any child had suffered "severe abuse" as defined by RCW 26.44.030(1)(d)


The WSSC reversed the COA and held that a teacher's failure to comply with the mandatory reporting duty must have some connection to his or her professional identity and the criminal offense. The mandatory reporting law does not impose an unlimited, ever present, duty of reporting to the professions named within the law.

WACDL Amicus

Mandatory reporting obligations of professionals designated in RCW 26.44.030(1)(a) should not extend to a parent who learned of alleged child abuse or neglect outside the scope of their profession. Should the court find the mandatory reporting applicable this requirement infringes on the constitutional rights of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.

WACDL Amicus Author

David Sulzbacher, Tom Weaver, Rita Griffith

Appellate Author

Barbara Corey

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