Employee Code of Conduct - Interactions with Students
Head-Royce School encourages a close, warm, and considerate relationship between students and teachers and staff. Our employees serve as the students’ role models, guides and mentors in learning as well as living. The purpose of these guidelines is to give clear direction regarding appropriate conduct and boundaries between employees and students. The expectations for conduct set forth in this document are not intended to serve as an exhaustive list of requirements, limitations, or prohibitions on staff conduct and activities established by the School. Rather, they are intended to:
- Alert employees to some of the more sensitive and often problematic matters involved in faculty/staff-student relationships;
- Specify boundaries related to the educator/student relationship and conduct that is contrary to accepted norms of behavior and in conflict with duties and responsibilities of
- professional educators; and
- Provide employees with clear guidance in conducting themselves in a manner that reflects high standards of professionalism.
It is important for the School to maintain a School-wide culture in which students and employees understand their responsibility to report misconduct without fearing retaliation. In order to prevent abuse and/or exploitation, students and the professional community must know that the Administration will support them when they report possible misconduct. Although this policy gives clear direction regarding appropriate conduct between employees and students, each employee is obligated to avoid situations that could prompt suspicion by other members of the School community. One helpful standard that can be quickly applied when assessing whether your conduct is appropriate is to ask yourself, “Would I be doing this if the student’s family or my colleagues or family were standing next to me?”.
If an employee experiences a difficult situation related to boundaries, the employee should ask for advice from a supervisor, Division Head or the Head of School.
Guidelines for Maintaining Boundaries
Some activities may seem innocent from an employee's perspective, but can be perceived as flirtation or sexual insinuation from a student or parent point of view, therefore employees should not engage in any type of behavior that might have the appearance of impropriety if observed by others. The objective of the following examples of appropriate boundaries is not to restrain positive relationships between employees and students, but to avoid situations that may be seen as inappropriate. Employees must understand their own responsibility for ensuring that they do not cross the boundaries of an educator/student relationship. Thus, it is crucial that all employees learn this policy thoroughly and apply the lists of acceptable and unacceptable behavior to their daily activities.
Although good-natured, heartfelt interaction with students certainly fosters learning, student/employee interactions must always be guided by appropriate boundaries regarding
activities, locations, and intentions:
- Meet Only in Appropriate Settings:
- An employee should not be alone with a student in a non-public space or inside a room with a closed door unless the space or room can be seen through a window. It is understood that teachers may meet with their students for educational purposes outside of classroom time and that some of those meetings will involve one-on-one meetings. Any such private meeting with a student should, whenever possible, occur with the door open or in a public space. If the circumstances require the door to be closed because additional privacy is needed, the meeting should be in a room with a window in the door that should remain uncovered, and the door to the room should remain unlocked.
- Employees should not allow students to ride in the employees’ personal cars without written (e-mail/text will suffice) permission from a parent/guardian and approval from the Head of School. Even with permission, an employee should not be alone in a car with a student and should not ride in a student's car. If a situation arises that requires deviation from this rule, the employee involved should get permission from their supervisor.
- Employees should not be present at a student’s home when a parent/guardian is not present, whether for a social gathering or otherwise. In addition, employees should not invite students to their homes for holidays or other occasions without approval from the Head of School as well as written (e-mail/text can suffice) parental consent. Finally, employees should never have only one student alone at their home, nor should they have students to their homes at all unless there is another adult present.
- Employees should not intentionally be alone with a student on campus or away from the School without obtaining prior parental permission.
- Limit Physical Contact:
- Employees should not discipline students in any physical manner.
- Employees should not have physical contact with a student, except that an occasional supportive, congratulatory, or quick hug, arm squeeze, or a pat on the back is permissible if welcome by the student. Patting of the buttocks with a hand even in an athletic context is prohibited. Note: If a student engages in repeated and/or prolonged physical contact with a School employee, the employee should clearly and firmly discourage such behavior and should notify a supervisor.
- Employees should not engage in physical horseplay, roughhousing, or other inappropriate physical games with a student.
- Remember Your Role Is as an Educator, not a Parent, Peer or Friend:
- Employees should not “hang out” with students outside of School for reasons not related to School or spend an inordinate amount of time “hanging out” with students even on campus. Adults at the School should always remember they are not the students’ “friends” and therefore should not be engaging in peer-like behavior with students.
- An employee should not give gifts to an individual student that are of a personal or intimate nature.
- Employees should not provide alcohol or drugs to a student, nor permit a student to drink or use drugs in their presence.
- Employees should not direct a student to keep a secret from or hide information from their parents or other School employees.
- Employees should not seek emotional involvement with a student for the employee's benefit.
- Employees should not make or participate in sexually inappropriate comments or conversations; make sexual jokes, stories, or comments with sexual innuendo;
- Teachers should not use sexual or inappropriate material as part of a class lesson, even as a joke.
- Employees should not discuss their personal troubles or intimate issues with a student.
- Employees should not gossip with students about other students or adults in the
- School community.
- Avoid Personal Electronic Communications:
- Employees should not engage with students via their personal social media accounts and should not friend, follow or send personal social media messages to students.
- Employees should not use personal email or texts to communicate with students rather than using School email and communication systems. (Limited text messaging is permissible for arranging logistics of School activities off campus or in emergency situations, but employees should generally use group text functions in such circumstances).
- Employees should not send emails to students if the content is not about School activities.
- Maintain Boundaries on Overnight Trips and Sleepovers:
- Employees should sleep in a separate room from students, should not invite a student to sleep in the employee's room, should not be alone with a student in the student's room and should not be inside a student’s room when the student is changing or sleeping.
- Employees should not awaken students by making physical contact with them (but may awaken students by loudly knocking on their doors or calling out to them).
- Employees should not appear unclothed or partially unclothed in front of a student. Thus, on overnight trips and sleepovers, employees should not walk around outside of their sleeping quarters unclothed or partially unclothed.
- Remember Special Boundaries Issues for Athletic Activities:
- In athletic facilities, employees should not shower or change in locker rooms when students are present.
- Employees should supervise locker rooms, as necessary, to prevent misbehavior and injury, and should do so by announcing their presence as they enter, unless to do so would undermine their ability to discover the misbehavior suspected.
- Coaches and other athletic staff should not be alone with a student when engaging in otherwise permitted physical contact, such as when teaching a skill.
These boundary guidelines may not be applicable if the employee is the parent, guardian, or sibling of the student in question. However, all School employees must remain mindful of their interaction with any student, even their own child(ren) or friends of their own child(ren), in and out of School. Those employees with family members in attendance at the School should reach out to the Head of School or Director of Human Resources with any questions regarding this policy.
Duty to Report
All employees are responsible for enforcing this policy and must immediately report any suspected violations to the Director of Human Resources, Division Head, or Head of School. In some circumstances, employees will also have the duty to report such conduct in accordance with mandated reporter requirements The School will not retaliate against any individual who makes a complaint or participates in an investigation pursuant to this policy, and will take disciplinary action against anyone who retaliates against a person in violation of this policy.