Administrative Procedure 492

Adult Interaction with Students

Background

The Division expects that all relationships and interactions between staff members and students will be reflective of the highest standards of behaviour and professionalism. All adults, whether staff or volunteer, shall ensure that appropriate boundaries be maintained at all times.


The Board emphasizes that wholesome, positive relationships are necessary for staff to build self-esteem and to encourage students to strive to realize their potential. As such, staff and adult volunteers shall ensure that their conduct with students never leads to a relationship that is, or could be perceived as sexual in nature.

  1. This purpose of this administrative procedure is:
    1. To alert staff about some of the more sensitive and potentially problematic matters involved in staff/student relationships.
    2. To specify “boundaries” related to situations and conduct that potentially may cross the line from acceptable norms to become a conflict with the duties and responsibilities of staff.
    3. To provide all staff with clear guidance for interactions and communication with students, including a duty to report situations where they believe a colleague has violated their duty of care to a student(s).
    4. To clarify potential improper actions that may have significant consequences for the students and staff member.
    5. To preserve student and staff privacy rights during any pending investigation, to the degree possible.
    6. To safeguard students and preserve their dignity and well-being.

  2. All staff members shall ensure their conduct and communications with students is beyond reproach. Anyone accused of sexual misconduct is at risk losing personal and professional credibility in the community and could be criminally charged and/or subject to a civil suit.
    1. Of greatest importance is the effect of the inappropriate behaviour/conduct upon the student in both the short- and long-term. The emotional and psychological damage done, as a result of abusive behaviour, especially, when sexual in nature may affect the student for a lifetime.

Definitions

Boundaries: acceptable professional behaviours by staff members while interacting with a student. Trespassing beyond the boundaries of an appropriate student/teacher relationship is deemed to be an abuse of power and a betrayal of public trust.

Staff Members: includes school employees and community volunteers assigned to a school-sponsored group, team or program.

Procedures

  1. Staff members must ensure they do not cross the boundaries for appropriate relationships, interaction and communication with students.
    1. It is the responsibility of each staff member to avoid situations that could prompt suspicion by parents, students, colleagues and school or system leaders.

  2. While it is impossible to provide an exhaustive delineation of requirements, limitations, or prohibitions on conduct, activities and communication, the following is provided as an initial list to illustrate the types addressed by this policy:
    1. Unacceptable Behaviours
      1. Giving gifts to an individual student that are of a personal and/or intimate nature.
      2. Any type of unnecessary physical contact with a student, especially in a private situation.
      3. Intentionally being alone with a student away from the school.
      4. Making, or participating in, sexually inappropriate comments (including texting, social media, etc).
      5. Sharing sexual jokes, or jokes/comments with sexual double-entendre.
      6. Seeking emotional involvement with a student beyond the normative care and concern required of the staff members’ role in the school (which could include intimate attachment).
      7. Listening to or telling stories that are sexually oriented.
      8. Discussing inappropriate personal troubles or intimate issues with a student(s) in an attempt to gain their support and understanding.
      9. Becoming involved with a student so that a reasonable person might suspect inappropriate behaviour.
      10. Kissing of any kind.
      11. Staff members will not exchange private texts, phone numbers, personal email addresses, videos or photos of a personal nature with students.
      12. Private electronic messages between a staff member and a student, for any reason, are unacceptable. 
      13. Staff will not issue “friend” or “follow” requests to students and will decline similar requests from students on all social media platforms. 
      14. Staff will set appropriate restrictions to maximize privacy on their social media accounts, ensuring that students cannot view or post content.
    2. Discouraged Behaviours (may be acceptable when prevented from a better practice or behaviour)
      1. Giving a student(s) a ride to/from school or school activities without parental permission. This may be done only in “emergency” situations and must never become a regular occurrence.
      2. Being alone in a room with a student at school, with the door closed.
      3. Allowing students in your home even with signed parent permission for a pre-planned and pre-communicated group activity – including other responsible adults.
    3. Acceptable Behaviours (encouraged)
      1. Ensure there is another responsible adult present when interacting with students outside of the classroom.
      2. Obtaining parent written consent for any after-school activity on or off-campus, exclusive of tutorials.
      3. Group communication initiated via school approved technology platforms within a defined school group, such as a team, club or class.
      4. Keeping the door open when alone with a student
      5. Keeping reasonable space between yourself and the student
      6. Stopping and correcting student when they cross acceptable boundaries
      7. Keeping parents informed when a significant issue develops regarding their child
      8. Keeping any after-class or after practice discussions with a student professional and brief.
      9. Asking for advice from senior staff or administration if you find yourself in a  difficult situation regarding boundaries.
      10. Making detailed notes about any incident that could evolve into a more serious situation – inform your supervisor; don’t keep it a secret.
      11. Asking another staff member to be present, or within close supervisory distance, whenever you need to be alone with any student after regular school hours.
      12. Giving students praise and recognition without touching them in any questionable manner; giving pats on the back, high-fives and handshakes are appropriate.

  3. The Principal shall review this administrative procedure with all staff at the beginning of each school year, as well as with all volunteers, including coaches, prior to their involvement with students.

  4. If any staff member becomes aware of another staff member may have crossed the acceptable boundaries with student(s), he or she shall report it immediately to a school administrator.

  5. A staff member shall report to school administration any awareness of, or concern about, student behavior that crosses boundaries, or any situation where a student appears to be at risk for sexual abuse or exploitation.

  6. The Principal will promptly investigate and document any allegation of sexual misconduct, using such support staff or outside assistance, as he/she deems necessary.
    1. Where there is evidence to substantiate the allegation, the Superintendent shall be advised forthwith.
    2. Throughout the investigation, all efforts shall be made to protect the privacy interests of all concerned.

  7. Staff members who violate this admin procedure may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination, and may be reported to appropriate legal authorities.

  8. A parent has the right to involve legal authorities or professional associations, at their discretion, at which time the school/system investigation may be suspended in deference to an external police/social sector investigation.

Reference:

Section 12, 16.2, 18, 20, 45, 45.1, 50.2, 60, 61, 113, 116, 117 School Act

Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act

Freedom of Information and Privacy Act


Approved: August 21, 2018

Updated: July 11, 2019