From the Palm Valley School Employee Handbook (2018-19)
The Palm Valley School encourages healthy and engaging relationships between staff and students. A strong relationship of care and duty between students and staff is critical to the learning process. However, it is important that each staff member’s conduct around and towards students be professional at all times. Therefore, staff members must maintain appropriate boundaries to ensure that they avoid even the perception of inappropriate conduct. While some interactions may be innocent from a staff member’s perspective, they can be perceived or and/or misinterpreted as inappropriate from the perspective of onlookers, or from that of a student or parent. The objective of this policy is not to constrain the development of positive relationships between staff and students, but rather to prevent any behaviors that could lead to, or be perceived as misconduct.
Below is a list of examples of inappropriate behavior within a professional staff/student relationship:
- Giving gifts to a student that are of a personal or intimate nature.
- Unnecessary physical contact with a student in either a public or private situation.
- Intentionally being alone with a student, whether on campus or away from the School, without a parent’s or supervisor’s knowledge or permission.
- Making or participating in sexually inappropriate comments.
- Sexual jokes or stories, or jokes or comments with sexual innuendo.
- Seeking emotional involvement with a student for the employee’s benefit.
- Discussing an employee’s own personal troubles or intimate issues with a student.
- Becoming involved with a student so that a reasonable person may suspect inappropriate behavior.
- Inappropriate use of social media with or about students. Teachers are not permitted to connect with current students on social media, or with former students under the age of 18.
- Excessive personal attention toward a particular student that is non-academic or school related in nature.
- Texting with students outside of specific situations where permissions have been given (field trips, for example).
- Using personal e-mail or personal phone numbers to communicate with students rather than using school e-mail and school phones.
- Sending communications to students of a personal nature if the content is not about school activities.
- Failing to keep the appropriate administrator informed when a significant issue develops about a student.
- Swearing or using inappropriate language in the presence of students.