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S.T. v. Dep't of Public Welfare

September 24, 2008

S.T., PETITIONER
v.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph F. McCLOSKEY, Senior Judge

ORDER

AND NOW, this 4th day of December, 2008, it is ordered that the above-captioned opinion filed September 24, 2008, shall be designated OPINION, rather than MEMORANDUM OPINION, and it shall be reported.

Submitted: August 15, 2008

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE JOSEPH F. McCLOSKEY, Senior Judge.

OPINION

S.T. (Petitioner) petitions for review of an order of the Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of Hearings and Appeals (Bureau) sustaining the decision of the Department of Public Welfare (Department) denying expungement of Petitioner's name from the ChildLine Registry.*fn1 We affirm.

The Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Children and Youth Division (C&Y) received a report of suspected child abuse as to S.P. S.P. was seven years old at the time the alleged abuse occurred. Following an investigation, C&Y determined that the report was indicated. C&Y found that Petitioner, the mother of S.P., was a perpetrator of child abuse.

Petitioner requested administrative review of the report. Following review, the Department sustained that finding that an indicated report of child abuse had been established. Petitioner then appealed to the Bureau seeking expungement on the basis that substantial evidence was not presented to support the findings. The Bureau held a hearing on this matter.

A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). At the hearing, C&Y sought to have S.P.'s oral statements admitted into evidence as S.P. was unavailable as a witness. S.P. had died as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. The ALJ determined that all the statements made by S.P. constituted inadmissible hearsay.

In support of its claim of abuse, C&Y then introduced four pictures of S.P. taken at his school. Karen Montgomery, a social worker, testified that she photographed S.P. on May 18, 2006, and that the photographs represent a fair and accurate representation of his condition at that time.

Ms. Montgomery stated that she also spoke to Petitioner. Petitioner informed her that S.P. was physically disciplined approximately once a month. He was either spanked by hand or with a belt. Petitioner claimed that her boyfriend, A.S., was usually in charge of the discipline.

Petitioner further informed her that on May 17, 2006, S.P. did not behave in school. As such, S.P. was disciplined with a belt by A.S. A.S. hit the child a number of times with the belt. Petitioner became angry that S.P. was screaming and crying. She then hit S.P. with the belt and returned the belt to A.S. so he could continue hitting S.P.

Petitioner presented the testimony of A.S.*fn2 He testified that S.P. had discipline problems in school, so he and Petitioner decided S.P. should be disciplined.

S.P. was told to go to his room and remove his clothing, except for his underwear. A.S. then began hitting S.P. with the belt. He stated that Petitioner entered the room and hit S.P. twice with the ...


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