ADOPTED MARCH 25, 2002

REVISED OCTOBER 27, 2008

REVISED JUNE 28, 2010

        REVISED AUGUST 3, 2017

Descriptor Term:                                                                Descriptor Code:

EMPLOYEE - STUDENT RELATIONS                                                7.1600

Legal References:        Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 7926; Title IX of the                                 Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq., 34 C.F.R. pt. 106; G.S.                                 14-27.7, -202.4; 115C-47(18); 16 N.C.A.C. 6C .0601, .0602; State Board of                                 Education Policy NCAC-6C-0601.

Cross References:        1.7100 Prohibition Against Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying; 1.7200/4.3501/7.1512 Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Complaint Procedures; 1.7550/4.3500 Student Grievance Procedure; 7.4940 Employee Responsibilities

For the purposes of this policy, the term “employees” includes, but is not limited to, all employees, volunteers, student teachers, independent contractors and school resource officers; however, “employees” does not include employees of the school system who are students enrolled in a K-12 public school system.

The board expects all employees to maintain the highest professional, moral, and ethical standards in their interactions with students.  Employees shall provide an atmosphere conducive to learning through consistently and fairly applied discipline and established and maintained professional boundaries.  Employees shall motivate each student to perform to his/her capacity while modeling the behavior expected of students in employee-student relationships.  

The interactions and relationships between employees and students shall, at all times, be one of cooperation, and mutual respect and the employee shall at all times understand, maintain and ensure the student understands and maintains the appropriate boundaries between adults and students inside and outside of the educational setting.  Employees are expected to demonstrate good judgment and to avoid the appearance of impropriety in their interactions with students.  Employees must consult their supervisor any time they suspect or are unsure whether conduct is inappropriate or otherwise constitutes a violation of this or other board policy.

Employees are exposed daily to a great deal of confidential information.  Employees shall not disseminate, release, disclose or discuss confidential information to or with others not employed by the school system except as follows: the biological parent, legal guardian, legal custodian, a person entitled to enroll the student pursuant to an affidavit of hardship, or a person who has been granted access under a FERPA Consent Form.  Employees shall only disseminate, release, disclose or discuss confidential information to or with other school employees as it is necessary to the benefit of the student or to carry out the objectives of the system.

A.        ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS AND SEXUAL CONTACT PROHIBITED

        All employees are prohibited from dating, courting, or entering into a romantic relationship or         having sexual contact with any student enrolled in the school system regardless of the student’s         age.  Romantic or sexual advances toward students by employees or romantic or sexual         relationships between school system employees and students enrolled in any public school         system are prohibited whether or not they are consensual or otherwise outside the definition of         sexual harassment. Employees engaging in such inappropriate conduct shall be subject to         disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, and may be subject to criminal action as         provided in the North Carolina General Statutes, including N.C.G.S. 14-202.4 and 14-27.32. In         addition, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) prohibits all employees,         contractors and agents of the school system from assisting any other current or former school         system employee, contractor, or agent in procuring a another job if that person is known or         believed, with probable cause, to have engaged in sexual misconduct regarding a minor or         student in violation of law. This prohibition, however, does not apply in the case of a current or         former employee whose alleged sexual         misconduct has been reported to and investigated by all         the appropriate authorities if 1) the authorities found insufficient evidence to establish probable         cause that the employee engaged in sexual misconduct; 2) the employee was charged and         acquitted or otherwise exonerated of sexual misconduct; or 3) there is an ongoing investigation of         the employee but the employee has been neither charged nor indicted within four (4) years from         the date of report of sexual misconduct.

B.        RESTRICTIONS ON ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION

1.        Employees are to maintain an appropriate relationship with students at all times.  All         employees should avoid appearances of impropriety with regard to their relationships         with students.  Except as otherwise provided herein, employees are prohibited from         communicating or making contact with students through any form of electronic         communication including but not limited to;

        a.        making voice to voice telephone calls to students for the purpose of speaking to                         the student;

        b.        leaving a voicemail for students, exchanging voicemails with students or                                 otherwise communicating with students through voicemails;

        c.        sending to or receiving text messages from students through a non-school                         system provided, controlled and/or owned platform;

        d.        sending to or receiving emails from students through a non-school system                         provided, controlled and/or owned platform;

        e.        sending to or receiving instant messaging from students through a non-school                         system         provided, controlled and/or owned platform;

        f.        receiving or transmitting photos or videos from and to students through a non-                        school system provided, controlled and/or owned platform;

        g.        following, communicating with or making contact with students on Twitter, Snap                         Chat, Instagram or through any other form of non-school system         provided,                         controlled and/or owned platform social media platform or electronic                                 communication system;

        h.        allowing a student to have access to the employee’s personal or private website,                         on-line networking profile or any other form of social media page or account; and

2.        The foregoing rule shall not apply, however, under each of the following situations:

  1. the communication meets all of the following characteristics:

(1)         it is for an educational purpose;

(2)         it is conducted through a school system-provided, school-controlled         and/or owned platform or electronic communication system which         archives all such communications and can be monitored by         administration; and

(3)        it occurs after the employee has given prior notice to his or her         supervisor that he or she intends to engage in this type of         communication and the employee’s supervisor approves the         communication.

  1. the communication meets all of the following characteristics:

(1)        the electronic communication is not a text or voice to voice call;

(2)        the purpose of the electronic communication is to disseminate         educational or instructional information to a group of students;

(3)        the employee does not respond to any replies or responses from         students who receive the information;

(4)        the administrator at all times has complete and unlimited access and         ability to monitor all communications in the social media platform or          electronic communication system; and

(5)        the employee sends the administrator copies of all communications that         are disseminated at the same time as each student.

  1. the communication is with a student who is related to the employee by blood, marriage or adoption.

  1. the communication is necessary in a bona fide emergency, provided the communication is disclosed to the supervisor and the student’s parent or guardian as soon as reasonably possible.

  1. the communication meets all of the following characteristics:

(1)        the communication derives from an appropriate relationship or         association with a student outside of the school setting;

(2)        the employee informs his/her supervisor of the employee’s intent to         engage in such communication prior to any such communication;

(3)        the employee provides his/her supervisor with the written consent of the         student’s parent or guardian to engage in this type of communication         with the student;

(4)        the employee’s supervisor approves of such communication with the         student;

(5)        the communication is appropriate; and

(6)        the communication does not otherwise violate this or other board policy.

  1. the communication meets all of the following characteristics;

(1)        the communication derives from a relationship or association outside the         school setting;

(2)        the communication involves the employee receiving group electronic         communications about an appropriate topic; and

(3)        the employee does not respond individually to a student after receiving         the group communication.

        Any employee may appeal his/her supervisor’s decision not to approve         communication with         students described in section B.2.a. through f. to the superintendent within three (3) days of the         supervisor’s decision.

        Any communication through social media authorized under this policy or policy 3.6142/7.1310

        Technology and Acceptable Use and Internet Safety must meet the professional standards         established in this policy and policy 3.6142/7.1310 Technology and Acceptable Use and Internet         Safety and must otherwise be consistent with law and all other board policies.

C.        REPORTING INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT

        1.        Reporting by Employees

Any employee who has reason to believe any of the following shall immediately report that information to his/her supervisor and the superintendent or his/her designee:

  1. that another employee is involved in a romantic or other inappropriate relationship or has had sexual contact with a student;

  1. that another employee has engaged in other behavior prohibited by this policy;

  1. that the employee has witnessed behavior by another employee that has the appearance of impropriety, whether or not the behavior may have a valid purpose;

                d.        that the employee has received any one-on-one communication from a student.  

An employee who fails to report as required in this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

        2.        Reporting by Students

Any student who believes that he/she or another student has been subject to misconduct that violates this policy shall immediately report the situation to the principal, school counselor, or the Title IX coordinator designated in policy 1.7200/4.3501/7.1512 Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Complaint Procedures.

Any employee who violates this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.