The Cape Elizabeth School Board expects all staff members, including teachers, coaches, counselors, administrators and others, to maintain the highest professional, moral and ethical standards in their conduct with students. For the purposes of this policy, staff members also include school volunteers.
The interactions and relationships between staff members and students should be based upon:
- mutual respect and trust;
- an understanding of the appropriate boundaries between adults and students in an educational setting; and
- consistent with the educational mission of the schools.
Staff members are expected to be sensitive to the appearance of impropriety in their conduct with students. Staff members are encouraged to discuss issues with their building administrator or supervisor whenever they are unsure whether particular conduct may constitute a violation of this policy.
Examples of conduct by staff members that could be considered a violation of this policy include but are not limited to the following:
- Any type of physical contact with students;
- Singling out a particular student or students for personal attention and friendship beyond the normal teacher-student relationship;
- 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 be supportive but to refer the student to appropriate guidance/counseling/administrative staff.
- Sexual banter, allusions, jokes or innuendos with students;
- Asking a student to keep a secret; and
- Disclosing personal, sexual, family, employment concerns, or other private matters to one or more students.
Before engaging in the following activities, staff members will review the activity with their building principal or supervisor, as appropriate:
- Being alone with individual students out of public view;
- Permitting students to address you by your first name, nickname or otherwise in an overly familiar manner;
- Addressing students with terms of endearment, pet names or otherwise in an overly familiar manner;
- Driving students home or to other locations;
- Inviting or allowing students to visit the staff member's home;
- Visiting a student's home, unless on official school business;
- Maintaining personal contact with a student outside of school by telephone or text messaging, computer (such as e-mail, Instant Messenger, social networking sites), or letters (beyond homework or other legitimate school business);
- Exchanging personal gifts (beyond the customary student-teacher gifts); and/or
- Socializing or spending time with students (including but not limited to activities such as going out for meals or movies, shopping, traveling, and recreational activities) outside of school-sponsored events except as participants in organized community activities.
Students and/or their parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to notify the principal [or other appropriate administrator] if they believe a teacher or other staff member may be engaging in conduct that violates this policy.
Staff members are required to notify promptly the appropriate building administrator or superintendent if they become aware of a situation that may constitute a violation of this policy.
Staff violations of this policy shall be reviewed by the appropriate administrator and may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. Violations involving sexual or other abuse will also result in referral to the Department of Health and Human Services and/or law enforcement in accordance with board's policy.
Policy to be Included in Handbooks (or disseminated by other means)
This policy shall be included in all employee, student and volunteer handbooks.
ADOPTED: December 14, 2004
Updated: May 8, 2012
Reviewed: May 6, 2013