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Principles of Professional Conduct and Professional Boundaries Policy

Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise (LAAAE) recognizes its responsibility to develop and enforce guidelines and expectations governing staff and student interactions to yield the safest learning environment possible. For the purposes of this policy, LAAAE employee actions include staff and student interactions beyond the school day and outside of school hours. References to students include both currently enrolled and previously enrolled students. Previously enrolled students are defined as students who are no longer enrolled at LAAAE for a period of three years after withdrawal or graduation or until the former student reaches the age of 21, whichever occurs latest. Considerations to this policy will be made for former students who become LAAAE employees and for employees who have children enrolled at LAAAE. If there are questions about the applicability of provisions within this policy, the employee should seek guidance from the principal or the principal’s designee.

Professional Conduct
Employees are expected to demonstrate professional demeanor at all times consistent with the guidelines enumerated below.

No employee shall harass, discriminate, intimidate, or bully on the basis of actual or perceived age, ancestry, color, ethnic group identification, gender expression, gender identity, gender, disability, nationality, national origin, political beliefs, race or ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, marital status, or a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics and shall make reasonable effort to assure that each person is protected from harassment, discrimination, intimidation or bullying thereof. California Education Code §§ 220 and 47605(d)(1), Title 5, California Code of Regulations § 80338

Employees shall make reasonable effort to protect students from conditions harmful to learning and or to the student’s mental and or physical health and or safety.

No employee shall intentionally expose a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.

No employee shall inflict, or cause to be inflicted corporal punishment upon a pupil. California Education Code § 49001

No employee shall intentionally violate or deny a student’s legal rights.

No employee shall use for his/her own private gain or advantage or to prejudice the rights or benefits of another person any confidential information relating to students or fellow professionals. Title 5, California Code of Regulations § 80334(a)

Employees shall keep in confidence personally identifiable information obtained in the course of professional service, unless disclosure serves professional purposes or is required by law.

No employee shall use for his/her own private gain or advantage the time, facilities, equipment, or supplies which is the property of LAAAE without the express or clearly implied permission of the principal or principal’s designee. Title 5, California Code of Regulations § 80334(b)

No employee shall accept any compensation or benefit or thing of value other than his/her regular compensation for the performance of any service which he/she is required to render in the course and scope of his/her certificated employment. This rule shall not restrict performance of any overtime or supplemental services at the request of LAAAE; nor shall it apply to or restrict the acceptance of gifts or tokens of minimal value offered and accepted openly from students, parents or other persons in recognition or appreciation of service. Title 5, California Code of Regulations § 80334(c)

No employee shall accept a gratuity, gift, or favor that may influence professional judgment.

No employee shall offer a gratuity, gift, or favor to obtain special advantages.

No employee shall use coercive means or promise special treatment to influence professional judgments of colleagues.

No certificated employee shall write or sign any letter or memorandum which intentionally omits significant facts, or which states as facts matters which the writer does not know of his/her own knowledge to be true relating to the professional qualifications or personal fitness to perform certificated services of any person whom the writer knows will use the letter or memorandum to obtain professional employment nor shall he/she agree to provide a positive letter of recommendation which misrepresents facts as a condition of resignation or for withdrawing action against the employing agency. Title 5, California Code of Regulations § 80332

No employee shall misrepresent one’s own professional qualifications.

No employee shall make any fraudulent statement or fail to disclose a material fact in one’s own or another’s application for a professional position.

No employee shall withhold information regarding a position from an applicant or misrepresent an assignment or conditions of employment.

No employee shall intentionally distort or misrepresent facts concerning an educational matter in direct or indirect public expression.

No employee shall submit fraudulent information on any document in connection with professional activities.

No employee shall make malicious or intentionally false statements.

Employees shall maintain honesty in all professional dealings.

No employee shall interfere with a colleague’s exercise of political or civil rights and responsibilities.

No certificated employee shall abandon professional employment without good cause. California Education Code § 44420, Title 5, California Code of Regulations § 80333

No certificated person shall knowingly, accept an assignment to perform professional services if he or she does not possess a credential authorizing the service to be performed; Title 5, California Code of Regulations § 80335

No certificated person shall perform or attempt to perform any duties or services authorized by his or her credential during any period in which he or she knows or is in possession of facts showing that his or her mental or intellectual faculties are substantially impaired for any reason, including but not limited to use of alcohol or any controlled substance. Title 5, California Code of Regulations § 80336

No certificated person shall directly or indirectly use or threaten to use any official authority or influence in any manner whatsoever which tends to discourage, restrain, interfere with, coerce, or discriminate against any subordinate or any certificated person who in good faith reports, discloses, divulges, or otherwise brings to the attention of the governing board of a school district, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing or any other public agency authorized to take remedial action, any facts or information relative to actual or suspected violation of any law regulating the duties of persons serving in the public school system, including but not limited to these rules of professional conduct. Title 5, California Code of Regulations § 80337

No employee shall seek reprisal against any individual who has reported any allegation of a violation of this policy.

Teachers shall enforce the course of study, the use of legally authorized textbooks, and the rules and regulations prescribed for schools. California Education Code § 44805

No employee shall unreasonably restrain a student from independent action in pursuit of learning.

No employee shall unreasonably deny a student access to diverse points of view.

No employee shall intentionally suppress or distort subject matter relevant to a student’s academic program.

Employees shall take reasonable precautions to distinguish between personal views and those of any educational institution or organization with which the employee may be affiliated.

Employees shall hold pupils to a strict account for their conduct, including on the way to and from school, on the playgrounds, or during recess. California Education Code § 44807

Employees shall self-report within forty-eight (48) hours to the principal or principal’s designee any arrests/charges involving the abuse of a child or the sale and/or possession of a controlled substance. Such notice shall not be considered an admission of guilt nor shall such notice be admissible for any purpose in any proceeding, civil or criminal, administrative or judicial, investigatory or adjudicatory. In addition, employees shall self-report any conviction, finding of guilt, withholding of adjudication, commitment to a pretrial diversion program, or entering of a plea of guilty or nolo contendre for any criminal offense other than a minor traffic violation within forty-eight (48) hours after the final judgment.

Professional Boundaries
This provision is intended to guide all LAAAE faculty and staff in conducting themselves in a manner that reflects the highest standards of behavior and professionalism required of school employees and to specify the boundaries between staff and students. Trespassing the boundaries of the staff and student relationship is deemed an abuse of power and a betrayal of public trust. All staff must carefully review this policy along with the examples provided relating to acceptable and unacceptable employee behavior.

Although this policy gives specific direction, it is each employee’s obligation to avoid situations that could prompt suspicion by parents, students, colleagues, or school leaders. One viable standard that can be quickly applied when an employee is unsure if certain conduct is acceptable, is to ask oneself, “Would I be engaged in this conduct if my family or colleagues were standing next to me?”

Some activities may seem innocent from a staff member’s perspective, but can be perceived as flirtation, sexual insinuation, or otherwise inappropriate from a student or parent point of view. The objective of providing examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors is not to restrain innocent, positive relationships between staff and students, but to prevent relationships that could lead to, or may be perceived as, predatory, sexual misconduct, or fraternization. The examples provided below are not intended to be exhaustive.

Staff members must understand their own responsibility for ensuring that they do not cross the boundaries as written in this policy. Disagreeing with the wording or intent of the established boundaries will be considered irrelevant for disciplinary purposes. Thus, it is crucial that all employees learn this policy thoroughly and apply the lists of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors to their daily activities. Although sincere, competent interaction with students certainly fosters learning, staff and student interactions must have boundaries surrounding potential activities, locations, and intentions.

Duty to Report
When an employee becomes aware of another staff member who violated the guidelines specified in this policy, the employee must report the matter to the school principal or principal’s designee as soon as is practicable. If the observed behavior appears significantly harmful to the student, it is the duty of the employee to immediately report it to the principal or principal’s designee. Observed interactions requiring mandated reporting, must be reported within 36 hours pursuant to California Penal Code § 11166. All reports shall be as confidential as possible under the circumstances. It is the duty of the administrator to investigate and thoroughly report the situation to law enforcement, if necessary.

Use of Electronic Media by Staff to Communicate with Students
Any employee communication with students, including those through the use of electronic media or technology, should always be limited to official LAAAE business. Employee interaction with students in social media such as Facebook, Instagram, or other similar means, is highly discouraged, and may lead to violation of this policy. Specifically, employees are highly discouraged from inviting students to join social networks and insofar as such behavior occurs, employees will be responsible for any exposure or access by students to inappropriate or unprofessional content, including words or pictures.

Examples of Unacceptable Behaviors (Violations of Professional Boundaries)

  • Giving a gift to a student that is of a personal and or intimate nature.
  • Engaging in any type of unnecessary physical contact with a student.
  • Intentionally being alone with a student at or away from the school.
  • Making or participating in sexually or otherwise inappropriate comments or jokes.
  • Seeking emotional involvement with a student for the employee’s benefit.
  • Discussing personal troubles or intimate issues with a student in an attempt to gain the student’s support and understanding.
  • Becoming involved with a student so that a reasonable person may suspect inappropriate interaction.
  • Providing student access to an employee’s home.
  • Sending emails, text messages or other communications to a student if the content is not about specifically about school activities.
  • Transporting a student, unless administratively approved.

Examples of Cautionary Behavior

  • Being alone in a room with a student at school with the door closed.
  • Remarking about the physical attributes or development of anyone.
  • Directing excessive attention toward a particular student.

These behaviors should only be exercised when a reasonable and prudent person, acting as an educator, is prevented from using a better practice or behavior. Staff members should inform the principal or principal’s designee of the circumstance(s) and occurrence as soon as is practicable.

Examples of Acceptable and Recommended Behaviors

  • Obtaining administrative and parental written consent for any after-school activity.
  • Obtaining administrative and parent approval to take student(s) off school property for activities such as field trips or competitions.
  • Transmitting electronic mail, text, telephone or instant messages to students which are professional and pertaining to school activities or classes.
  • Keeping the door open when alone with a student.
  • Maintaining reasonable personal space between employees and students.
  • Correcting students if they cross personal boundaries.
  • Keeping parents informed when a significant issue develops about a student.
  • Keeping after-class discussions with a student professional and brief.
  • Asking for advice from fellow staff or administrators if the employee finds oneself in a difficult situation related to boundaries.
  • Involving school leadership if conflict arises with a student.
  • Informing the principal about situations that have the potential to become more severe.
  • Making detailed notes about an incident that could evolve into a more serious situation later.
  • Recognizing the responsibility to stop unacceptable behavior of students or coworkers.
  • Asking another staff member to be present when the employee must be alone with a student.
  • Giving students praise and recognition without touching them.
  • Keeping professional conduct a high priority.
  • Asking oneself if actions are worth one’s employment and career.

Failure to adhere to the provisions of professional conduct stated herein may result in demotion, termination, or other adverse actions.

Adopted on February 24, 2016