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Like every other state in the nation, South Dakota has a host of laws that affect you as a parent. But how is one to know what’s the law?

We turned to a network of experts to help clear up some of the biggest misconceptions about South Dakota law.


EDUCATION

My son is being bullied at school? What can we do? 

Public schools are required by law to have a bullying policy. (Check with your district for its specific policy.) Brad Berens, Assistant Superintendent for Rapid City Area Schools, said of their policy: if a student is experiencing bullying, the student or parent should report the details to a staff member. The district requires that the principal and/or designee be responsible for receiving all reports of alleged bullying. The principal or designee must investigate all complaints alleging bullying and whether an alleged act constitutes bullying and a violation of school policy. Parents have the right to seek legal counsel anytime they feel their child’s rights have been violated.

My kid is always bruised from playing. His teacher suspected we were abusing him and called the police on us. Why’d she do that? We’re good parents!

A teacher is among the list of professionals who are required by South Dakota law to report child abuse or a neglected child case and intentional failure to do so is a misdemeanor. The state’s definition of child abuse in SDCL 26- 8A-2 includes a child who has been abandoned, mistreated or abused or in an environment injurious to the child’s welfare. Reporting requirements are outlined in SDCL 26-8A-8 and require oral reports be made to the county state’s attorney, Department of Social Services or to a law enforcement officer.

My husband hunts, so we have guns in our house. What should we do with them?

Patrick Klotzbach, coordinator at South Dakota HuntSAFE, stressed the importance of taking the proper precautions if you have a gun in the home. “The best solution is to store guns unloaded in a locked gun safe. Store ammunition in a different safe, in a different location,” he said. Klotzbach said safety training, including learning proper handling, is important for everyone in a house with a gun. Free HuntSAFE programs are available to anyone over the age of 12, as well, for those who would like to learn more about hunting and gun safety.


HEALTH

I leave our baby sleeping in the car while running into the dry cleaners. Is that ok?

The South Dakota Department of Social Services (SDDSS) recommends erring on the side of caution and not leaving children in a vehicle unattended. However, Communications Director at the SDDSS Tia Kafka, says there are no current state laws speaking to this topic. The Department recommends parents consider these factors when deciding to leave a child in an unattended vehicle: weather conditions, the
age of the child, whether the car is running or not, whether the doors are locked or unlocked, whether the vehicle is within the parent’s sight line, etc.


WELFARE

We created our will in another state. Does it still apply in South Dakota?

It depends, explains Jennifer Tomac, attorney and founder of Tomac & Tomac, PLLC. Every state has its own laws about the formalities that must be followed in order for a Will to be valid. For example, in some states the Will must be signed by one witness, while, in other states, three witnesses must sign it. Because there are so many variables from state to state, the only way to know for sure is to have an estate-planning attorney licensed in South Dakota review your Will.

My child caused property damage. Am I responsible to pay for it?

Possibly, said Tomac; South Dakota Codified Laws Section 25-5-15 states that parents can be held liable for damage caused by their minor child (under the age of 18 years) if they acted maliciously or willfully. The parents’ liability is limited to $2,500, in addition to court costs.

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