The principal of Atlantic City High School is facing charges for allegedly failing to report that a student was being abused by his/her parents.

On Thursday, Constance Days-Chapman was charged with the following:

  • Second-degree official misconduct
  • Third-degree hindering apprehension of another
  • Fourth-degree obstruction of justice
  • A disorderly persons charge of failure to report child abuse

The charges were placed on a summons.

Alleged Unreported Child Abuse

According to the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, this past January, a juvenile student at the high school informed a school staff member that he/she had been emotionally and physically abused by his/her parents and that the student had previously disclosed this abuse to Days-Chapman.

The school staff member discussed the matter with Days-Chapman later that same day. Days-Chapman denied that the student ever disclosed the abuse to her previously but told the school staffer that she would report the matter to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P, formerly known as DYFS).

Officials say both the staffer and another eyewitness to the conversation believed that Days-Chapman was going to notify authorities as they were leaving her office. The eyewitness also allegedly offered to report the incident to DCP&P themselves but Days-Chapman insisted that she would make the notification.

Atlantic City High School
Atlantic City High School - Photo: Google Maps
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The prosecutor's office says later that evening, Days-Chapman met with the juvenile's parents at their home and informed them that the student disclosed to school staff that the juvenile was being abused by them.

DCP&P confirmed to officials that there was no disclosure reported to them regarding the abuse of the juvenile from Days-Chapman or any other member of the staff from Atlantic City High School.

New Jersey State Law

According to a guide posted at NJ.gov,

By law (N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10 and 18A:36-25) and Department of Education regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11), any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected by a parent or caregiver is required to immediately notify CP&P [ Child Protection and Permanency]. After reporting to CP&P, any school district employee, volunteer or intern must inform the principal or other designated school official so that law enforcement authorities can be notified.

Any person who knowingly fails to report suspected abuse is subject to a fine up to $1,000 or up to six months in prison, or both.

This incident was investigated by the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office’s Special Victims Unit and the Professional Standards and Accountability Unit.

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Gallery Credit: Chris Coleman

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