Union County Public Schools
3 - Chapter 3 - Personnel
3-6 Staff-Student Relations
Revisions History: 06/01/2021, 12/01/2020, 12/03/2019, 11/08/2018, 08/04/2015, 06/23/2009 Approved 04/20/2004
The Board expects all employees to maintain the highest professional, moral, and ethical standards in their interactions with students. Employees are required to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning through consistently and fairly applied discipline and established and maintained professional boundaries. Employees are expected to motivate each student to perform to the student’s capacity while modeling the behavior expected of students in staff-student relationships.
The relationship between staff and students should be one of cooperation, understanding, and mutual respect, and an understanding of the appropriate boundaries between adults and students inside and outside of the educational setting. The staff has the responsibility to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning and to motivate each student to perform to the student’s capacity. The staff is expected to model the behavior expected of students in staff-student relationships. Additionally, staff is to, at all times, maintain a strictly professional and courteous relationship with students.
For the purposes of this policy, the terms “staff” and “employees” include independent contractors, school safety officers, and volunteers, but do not include student employees or student volunteers.
ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS AND SEXUAL CONTACT PROHIBITED
All employees, except student employees, are prohibited from dating, courting, or entering into a romantic or sexual relationship with any student enrolled in the school district regardless of the student’s age. Employees engaging in such inappropriate conduct will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, and may be subject to criminal action as provided in N.C.G.S. 14-202.4 and 14-27.7.
RESTRICTIONS ON ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS
Employees are prohibited from communicating with current students through non-school-controlled social media without written parental permission (except to the extent that the employee and student have an appropriate relationship which originated outside of the school setting) and written permission from the employee’s immediate supervisor. Any communication through social media must meet the professional standards established in this policy and must otherwise be consistent with law and all other Board policy.
Instant messages will be treated as a form of communication through social media subject to the terms of this policy, regardless of whether the messaging service is actually provided through a social media service or otherwise.
Employees are prohibited from engaging in other forms of one-to-one electronic communications (e.g., voice, voice mail, email, texting, and photo or video transmission) with students without written prior approval of the employee’s supervisor and the student’s parent. This rule shall not apply, however, if one or more of the following circumstances exist:
a. the communication (1) is for an educational purpose, (2) is conducted through a school system-provided platform which archives all such communications for a period of at least three years, (this requirement does not apply to telephone or voice mail communications), or is conducted via an electronic video-conferencing platform (e.g., Teams, Zoom, Webex, Google Meet) that has been approved by the Superintendent or designee for instructional use, and (3) occurs after the employee has given prior notice to his or her supervisor or designee that such communications will occur;
b. the communication serves an educational purpose and is simultaneously copied or transmitted to the employee’s supervisor or designee and, upon request, to the parent or guardian;
c. the communication is necessary in a bona fide emergency, provided the communication is disclosed to the supervisor and parent or guardian as soon as reasonably possible; or
d. the communication derives from a relationship or association outside of the school setting and occurs with the consent of the parent or guardian, provided such communication is appropriate and does not otherwise violate this or other Board policy.
Any one-to-one electronic communication permitted by this subsection must meet the professional standards established in this policy and must otherwise be consistent with law and all other Board policies. Designated staff dealing with a student in crisis may use one-to-one electronic communication consistent with their professional duties and only to the extent required by the circumstances.
It is the duty of every employee to notify his or her supervisor of any unsolicited one-to-one communication, in any form, electronic or otherwise, received from a student when the communication lacks a clear educational purpose. School counselors are excluded from this requirement only to the extent that it conflicts with their professional duties.
Violations of this section will be considered unprofessional behavior subject to discipline up to and including termination. Factors that may be relevant to the determination of an appropriate disciplinary response to unauthorized communications with students include, but are not limited to:
• the content, frequency, subject, and timing of the communication;
• whether the communication was appropriate given the student’s age and maturity level;
• whether the communication could reasonably be viewed as a solicitation of sexual contact, or the courting of a romantic relationship including grooming behavior;
• whether there was an attempt to conceal the communication from the employee’s supervisor and/or the parent or guardian;
• whether the communication caused a disruption of the educational environment; and
• whether the communication harmed the student in any manner.
REPORTING INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT
Any employee who has reason to believe that another employee is inappropriately involved with a student, as described above, is required to report this information immediately to the Superintendent. An employee who fails to inform the Superintendent of a suspected inappropriate relationship between an employee and a student may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Any principal who has reason to believe that a student has been the victim of criminal conduct shall immediately report the incident. Any administrator, including the Superintendent, a Deputy/Associate/Assistant Superintendent, a personnel administrator, or a principal, who knows or has reason to believe that a licensed employee has engaged in conduct which would justify automatic revocation of the employee’s license, or involves physical or sexual abuse of a child shall report that information to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction within five working days of any disciplinary action, dismissal, or resignation based on the conduct. For purposes of this subsection, physical abuse is the infliction of physical injury other than by accidental means or in self-defense, and sexual abuse is the commission of any sexual act upon a student or causing a student to commit a sexual act, regardless of consent and the age of the student. Failure to report such conduct may result in the suspension or revocation of an administrator’s license by the State Board of Education. This reporting requirement applies in addition to any duty to report suspected child abuse in accordance with state law.
Any student who believes that he or she or another student has been subject to misconduct that violates this policy should immediately report the situation to the principal, school counselor, or the Title IX coordinator.
LEGAL REF.: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., 34 C.F.R. pt 106; Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 7926; G.S. 14-27.7, 14-202.4; 115C-47(18); - 270.35(b); G.S. 14-27.32, -202.4; 115C-47(18); 16 N.C.A.C. 6C. .0372, .0373, .0601, .0602; State Board of Education Policy EVAL-014,
CROSS REF.: Board Policy 3-7, Prohibition Against Racism, Unlawful Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying (Employees)
Board Policy 3-7a, Sexual Harassment (Employees)
Board Policy 3-7b, Racism, Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Complaint Procedure for Employees
Board Policy 4-7, Prohibition Against Racism, Unlawful Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying (Students)
Board Policy 4-7(a), Sexual Harassment (Students)
Board Policy 4-7(b), Racism, Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying Complaint Procedure for Students
UNION COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION