Maintaining Professional Staff/Student Boundaries
The purpose of this procedure is to provide all staff, students, volunteers and community members with information to increase their awareness of their role in protecting children from inappropriate conduct by adults.
In a professional staff/student relationship, school employees maintain boundaries that are consistent with the legal and ethical duty of care that school personnel have for students.
A boundary invasion is an act or omission by a school employee that violates professional staff/student boundaries and has the potential to abuse the staff/student relationship.
An inappropriate boundary invasion means an act, omission, or pattern of such behavior by a school employee that does not have an educational purpose; and results in abuse of the professional staff/student relationship.
Examples of inappropriate boundary invasions under any circumstances by staff members may include but are not limited to the following:
á Any type of inappropriate physical contact with a student or any other conduct that might be considered harassment under the BoardŐs policy on Harassment and Sexual Harassment of Students;
á Showing pornography to a student or sharing such with students;
á Singling out a particular student or students for personal attention and friendship beyond the professional staff-student relationship;
á Socializing where students are consuming drugs or tobacco or illegally consuming alcohol;
á For non-guidance/counseling staff, encouraging students to confide their personal or family problems and/or relationships. If a student initiates such discussions, staff members are expected to refer the student to appropriate guidance/counseling or administrative staff. In either case, staff involvement should be limited to a direct connection to the studentŐs school performance;
á Sending students on personal errands unrelated to any educational purpose;
á Banter, allusions, jokes or innuendos of a sexual nature with students;
á Disclosing personal, sexual, family, employment concerns or other private matters to one or more students;
á Unnecessarily invading a studentŐs privacy (e.g., walking in on the student in the bathroom).
Depending on the context of the activity or situation, examples of inappropriate boundary invasions by staff may include but are not limited to the following
á Maintaining personal contact with a student outside of school by phone, e-mail, Instant Messenger or Internet chat rooms, social networking Web sites, or letters (beyond homework or other legitimate school business) without parent/guardian knowledge or without including the parent/guardian;
á Exchanging personal gifts, cards or letters with an individual student;
á Socializing or spending time with students (including but not limited to activities such as going out for beverages, meals or movies, shopping, traveling and recreational activities) outside of school-sponsored events, except as participants in organized community activities or as part of family approved outings and activities, and/or;
á Giving a student a ride alone in a vehicle in a non-emergency situation; and/or
Appearances of Impropriety
Depending on the context of the activity or situation, the following activities could be considered boundary invasions and can create an actual impropriety or the appearance of impropriety. Whenever possible, staff should avoid these situations:
á Being alone with an individual student out of the view of others;
á Inviting or allowing individual students to visit the staff memberŐs home;
á Visiting a studentŐs home without parent/guardian knowledge or permission; and/or
á Social networking with students for non-educational purposes.
Students and their parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to notify the principal (or the superintendent) if they believe a staff member may be engaging in conduct that violates this policy.
Staff members are required to promptly notify the principal or the superintendent if they become award of a situation that may constitute a violation of this policy.
Staff violations of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. The violation will also be reported to the State Office of Professional Practices. Violations involving sexual or other abuse will also result in referral to Child Protective Services and/or law enforcement in accordance with the BoardŐs policy on Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect.
All new employees and volunteers will receive training on appropriate staff/student boundaries within three months of employment. Continuing employees will receive training every three years.
Dissemination of Policy and Reporting Protocols
This policy and procedure shall be included on the district website and in all employee, student and volunteer handbooks.