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DP378 – Employee Code of Conduct

  • Effective:  9/24/2019
  1. Board Directive
    The Board adopts this policy, in part, because the legislature has conditioned certain governmental immunity protections upon the adoption of an appropriate behavior policy not less stringent than a model policy created by the State Board of Education. The Board is committed to establishing and maintaining appropriate standards of conduct between staff members and students.  These standards of conduct are also known as professional boundaries.  Staff members shall maintain professional and appropriate demeanor and relationships with students, both during and outside of school hours, as well as both on and off campus, that foster an effective, non-disruptive and safe learning environment.  The Board delegates to the Administration the responsibility for establishing guidelines for the Employee Code of Conduct.
  2. Administrative Policy
    1. Definitions
      1. Staff Member: an employee, contractor or volunteer with unsupervised access to students.
      2. Student: a child under the age of 18 or over the age of 18 if still enrolled in a public secondary school.
      3. Boundary Violation: crossing verbal, physical, emotional, or social lines that staff must maintain in order to ensure structure, security, and predictability in an educational environment.
        1. A boundary violation may include the following, depending on the circumstances:
          1. Isolated, one-on-one interactions with a student out of the line of sight of others;
          2. Meeting with a student in rooms with covered or blocked windows;
          3. Telling risqué jokes to, or in the presence of a student;
          4. Employing favoritism to a student;
          5. Giving gifts to individual students;
          6. Staff member initiated frontal hugging or other uninvited touching;
          7. Photographing an individual student for a non-educational purpose or use;
          8. Engaging in inappropriate or unprofessional contact outside of educational program activities;
          9. Exchanging personal email or phone numbers with a student for a non-educational purpose or use;
          10. Interacting privately with a student through social media, computer, or handheld devices; and
          11. Discussing an employee’s personal life or personal issues with a student.
        2. A boundary violation does not include:
          1. Offering praise, encouragement, or acknowledgment;
          2. Offering rewards available to all who achieve;
          3. Asking permission to touch for necessary purposes;
          4. Giving a pat on the back or a shoulder;
          5. Giving a side hug;
          6. Giving a handshake or high five;
          7. Offering warmth and kindness;
          8. Utilizing public social media alerts to groups of students and parents; or
          9. Contact permitted by an IEP or 504 plan.
      4. Grooming: befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a student or a student’s family to lower the student’s inhibitions for emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
      5. Sexual Conduct: includes any sexual contact or communication between a staff member and a student including but not limited to:
        1. Sexual Abuse: the criminal conduct described in Utah Code Ann. 76-5-404.1(2) and includes, regardless of the gender of any participant:
          1. Touching the anus, buttocks, pubic area, or genitalia of a student;
          2. Touching the breast of a female student; or
          3. Otherwise taking indecent liberties with a student; with the intent to:
            1. cause substantial emotional or bodily pain; or
            2. arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any individual.
        2. Sexual Battery: the criminal conduct described in Utah Code Ann. 76-9-702.1 and includes intentionally touching, whether or not through clothing, the anus, buttocks, or any part of the genitals of a student, or the breast of a female student, and the actor’s conduct is under circumstances the actor knows or should know will likely cause affront or alarm to the student touched; or
        3. A staff member and student sharing any sexually explicit or lewd communication, image, or photograph.
    2. Procedures
      Staff members shall act in a way that acknowledges and reflects their inherent positions of authority and influence over students.

      1. Staff members shall recognize and maintain appropriate personal boundaries in teaching, supervising and interacting with students and shall avoid boundary violations including behavior that could reasonably be considered grooming or lead to even an appearance of impropriety. It is not a boundary violation when a student acts or speaks in inappropriately familiar ways with a staff member without having been prompted to do so by the staff member, but such incidents must be promptly documented and reported to the staff member’s supervisor or the building principal and the student should be given guidance on proper student-staff relationships as directed by the supervisor or principal.
      2. A staff member may not subject a student to any form of abuse including, but not limited to:
        1. physical abuse;
        2. verbal abuse;
        3. sexual abuse; or
        4. mental abuse.
      3. A staff member shall not touch a student in a way that makes a reasonably objective student feel uncomfortable.
      4. A staff member shall not engage in any sexual conduct toward or sexual relations with a student including, but not limited to:
        1. viewing with a student, or allowing a student to view, pornography or any other sexually explicit or inappropriate images or content, whether video, audio, print, text or other format;
        2. sexual battery; or
        3. sexual assault.
      5. Staff member communications with students, whether verbal or electronic, shall be professional and avoid boundary violations.
      6. A staff member shall not provide gifts, special favors, or preferential treatment to a student or group of students.
      7. A staff member shall not discriminate against a student on the basis of sex, religion, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other prohibited class.
      8. Staff member use of electronic devices and social media to communicate with students must comply with District policy, be professional, pertain to school activities or classes, and comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
      9. A staff member may not use or be under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances during work hours on school property or at school sponsored events while acting as a staff member. Additionally, a staff member may not use any form of tobacco or electronic cigarettes on school property or at school sponsored activities in an employment capacity.
      10. The prohibitions listed above in subsections 1 through 9 apply to staff member interaction with any student presently enrolled in the District and to staff member interaction with any former student who was enrolled at a school where the staff member was assigned during the student’s enrollment at that school for a period of two (2) years after the student ceased enrollment at that school.
      11. A staff member shall cooperate in any investigation concerning allegations of actions, conduct, or communications that if proven, would violate this policy.
      12. The District recognizes that familial relationships or other relationships which are independent of and which do not arise out of the school context between a staff member and a student or former student may provide for exceptions to certain provisions of this policy.
      13. Conduct prohibited by this policy is considered a violation of this policy regardless of whether the student may have consented.
    3. Reporting
      1. A staff member who has reason to believe there has been a violation of this policy shall immediately report such conduct to an appropriate supervisor or school administrator. If a staff member has reason to believe a school administrator has violated this policy, the staff member shall immediately report the conduct to the administrator’s supervisor.
      2. In addition to the obligation to report suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement or the Division of Child and Family Services under Utah Code Ann. 62A-4a-403:
        1. a staff member who has reasonable cause to believe that a student may have been physically or sexually abused by a school staff member shall immediately report the belief and all other relevant information to the school administrator, or to District Administration;
        2. a school administrator who has received a report or who otherwise has reasonable cause to believe that a student may have been physically or sexually abused by a school staff member shall immediately inform the District Administration of the reported abuse; and
        3. if the staff member suspected to have abused a student holds a professional educator license issued by the Utah State Board of Education, the District Administration shall immediately report that information to the Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission;
        4. a person who makes a report under this subsection in good faith shall be immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise arise by reason of that report.
      3. A staff member who has knowledge of suspected incidents of bullying shall immediately notify the student’s building administrator in compliance with Policy AS98-Bulying, Cyberbullying and Hazing.
      4. Failing to report suspected misconduct as required herein is a violation of this policy, the Utah Educator Standards, and in some instances, state law, and may result in disciplinary action.
    4. Training
      1. Within 10 days of beginning employment with the District a staff member shall receive video training regarding this policy and shall electronically acknowledge having received training and understanding the policy.
      2. Staff members employed by the District at the time of initial adoption of this policy shall receive video training regarding this policy prior to the first day of the 2019-2020 school year on which students will be in attendance and shall electronically acknowledge having received training and understanding the policy.
      3. All employees will receive video training annually as part of the crucial policy review.
    5. Violations
      A staff member found in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including removal as a volunteer or termination of employment in accordance with orderly termination policy DP316 NEG, DP316A and DP316B NEG.

REFERENCES

Utah Code Title 62A, Chapter 4a, Part 4, Child Abuse or Neglect Reporting Requirements
Utah Code Section 53E-6-701, Mandatory Reporting of Physical or Sexual Abuse of Students
Utah Admin. Code R277-401, Child Abuse-Neglect Reporting by Education Personnel
Utah Admin. Code R277-515, Utah Educator Professional Standard
Utah Admin. Code R277-322, LEA Codes of Conduct
Utah Code Section 63G-7-301, Waivers of Immunity
Utah Code Section 76-5-401.1, Sexual Abuse of a Minor
Utah Code Section 76-9-702.1, Sexual Battery