Dear Regents, Chancellors, and UW Colleagues,
I want you to know that later this morning Governor Walker will issue an Executive Order requiring that all University of Wisconsin System employees report instances of child abuse or neglect to the police or to a local child protective services agency. I will be joining the Governor and the Attorney General for a brief ceremony at UW-Milwaukee where Governor Walker will sign the Order.
You may recall that the Board of Regents this month accepted our recommendation that UW System auditors undertake a thorough review of laws, policies, and procedures related to this issue. During discussion of planned audits and program reviews for 2012, the Regents agreed that this should be our top audit priority. The review will build upon a preliminary analysis of crime prevention and reporting obligations conducted by our legal staff, summarized in this Dec. 7 memo.
UW institutions serve large numbers of minors through pre-college programs, summer camps, special events, and other offerings. By one estimate, more than 50,000 individuals participate in camps and clinics hosted by our UW campuses. Protecting our children is one of the most solemn moral obligations of adulthood, one we want to model for the young adults who are our university students. With that in mind, I believe this Order captures and clarifies our fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable populations.
After the Governor informed us of his intent to issue this Order, our UW legal staff worked with his office to ensure that it would provide a workable framework for UW employees. Based in part on the statutory provisions for K-12 teachers and other education professionals, this Executive Order clarifies expectations for UW employees who have any knowledge of child abuse or neglect. You will be provided with a copy of the signed Order as soon as it is available.
As we implement the Governor’s Executive Order and embark on our own internal audit, the process will include extensive conversations with Regents and with faculty and staff colleagues across the System, including our shared governance groups. We will be distributing an FAQ document shortly to help interpret and provide guidance on complying with the Executive Order. Your input is vital, and we look forward to that collaborative process that will help enhance the safety of our university communities.
Kevin P. Reilly