For the purposes of this policy, the term “boundaries” is defined as acceptable professional behavior by employees while interacting with a student. Trespassing beyond the boundaries of a student/teacher or student/employee relationship is deemed an abuse of power and a betrayal of public trust.
Some activities may seem innocent from an employee’s perspective, but some of these can be perceived as flirtation or sexual insinuation from a student or parental point of view. The purpose of the following list of unacceptable behavior is not to restrain innocent, positive relationships between employees and students but to prevent relationships that could lead to, or may be perceived as, misconduct.
Employees must understand their own responsibilities for ensuring that they do not cross the boundaries as written in this policy. Disagreeing with the wording or intent of the established boundaries will be considered irrelevant for any required disciplinary purposes. Thus, it is critical that all employees study this policy thoroughly and apply its spirit and intent in their daily activities. Although sincere, professional interaction with students fosters the School’s mission of academic excellence, employee-student interaction has boundaries regarding the activities, locations, and intentions.
The following is a list of unacceptable behavior with or in the presence of students, which includes, but is not limited to:
- Giving gifts to an individual student that are of a personal and intimate nature;
- Kissing of any kind;
- Any type of unnecessary and/or inappropriate physical contact with a student;
- Intentionally being alone with a student away from the School;
- Making, or participating in, sexually inappropriate jokes or comments;
- Seeking emotional involvement (which can include intimate attachment) with a student beyond the normative care and concern required of an educator;
- Listening to or telling stories that are sexually oriented;
- Discussing inappropriate personal troubles or intimate issues with a student;
- Becoming involved with a student so that a reasonable person may suspect inappropriate behavior;
- Giving students a ride to/from School or School activities without written parental permission;
- Being alone in a room with a student at the School outside the “eye contact” of others (e.g., in a room with the door closed and no window and/or line of sight);
- Allowing students in your home without written parent permission for a preplanned and pre-communicated educational activity that must include the presence of another educator, parent, or other responsible adult;
- Remarks about the physical attributes or physiological development of any student;
- Excessive attention toward a particular student;
- Sending e-mails, text messages, instant messages, social media messages, or letters to students if the content is not about School activities and not in accordance with applicable School policies (see below under Use of Information & Technology);
- Communicating with students or parents/guardians in violation of the School’s Social Media Policy, including being “friends” with a student on any personal or non-School social media website, or engaging in inappropriate and/or unprofessional communications with students on School social media (see below under Use of Information & Technology);
- Using profanity with or to a student;
- Involving students or parents in non-educational or non-school related issues, including, but not limited to, the employee’s employment issues.
Please also ask the Head of School or Human Resources for any clarity regarding the items listed above. When any employee, parent, or student becomes aware of an employee having crossed the boundaries specified in this policy, he or she must promptly report the suspicion to Human Resources or the Head of School. All reports shall be kept as confidential as possible. Prompt reporting is essential to protect students, the suspected employee, any witnesses, and the School as a whole. Employees must also report to the administration any awareness of, or concern about, student behavior that crosses boundaries or any situation in which a student appears to be at risk for sexual abuse.