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Policy 5253

Maintaining Professional Staff/Student Boundaries

This policy provides all staff, students, volunteers and community members with information about their role in protecting children from inappropriate conduct by adults.  This policy applies to all district staff and volunteers.  For the purpose of this policy and its procedure, the terms “district staff,”  “staff member(s),” and “staff” also includes volunteers.

General Standards

The board expects all staff members to maintain the highest professional standards when they interact with students. District staff are required to maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning by consistently maintaining professional boundaries.

Professional staff/student boundaries are consistent with the legal and ethical duty of care that district employees have for students.

The La Center School District encourages staff, in order to maintain professional boundaries, to communicate with two principles in mind; two layers and transparency.  Two layers refers to including parents or admin on communications and transparency is intended to maintain open and public communication.

The interactions and relationships between district staff and students should be based upon mutual respect, trust, and commitment to the professional boundaries between staff and students in and outside of the educational setting, and consistent with the educational mission of the district.

District staff will not intrude on a student’s physical and emotional boundaries unless the intrusion is necessary to serve a demonstrated educational purpose. An educational purpose is one that relates to the staff member’s duties in the district and shall include family communication. Inappropriate boundary invasions can take various forms. Any type of sexual conduct with a student is an inappropriate boundary invasion.

Additionally, staff members are expected to be aware of the appearance of impropriety in their own conduct and the conduct of other staff when interacting with students. Staff members will notify and discuss issues with their building administrator or supervisor whenever they suspect or question whether their own or another staff member’s conduct is inappropriate or constitutes a violation of this policy. 

The board recognizes that staff may have familial and pre-existing social relationships with parents or guardians and students.  Staff members should use appropriate professional judgment when they have a dual relationship to students to avoid violating this policy, the appearance of impropriety, and the appearance of favoritism.  Staff members shall proactively discuss these circumstances with their building administrator or supervisor. 

Use of Technology

The board supports the use of technology to communicate for educational purposes. However, when the communication is unrelated to school work or other legitimate school business district staff are prohibited from inappropriately communicating with students.  District staff members are prohibited from engaging in any conduct on social networking websites that violates the law, district policies or procedures, or other generally recognized professional standards.

Staff whose conduct violates this policy may face discipline and/or termination consistent with the district’s policies and procedures, acceptable use agreement and collective bargaining agreements, as applicable.

The superintendent or designee will develop staff protocols for reporting and investigating allegations and develop procedures and training to accompany this policy.

Cross References:    3205 – Sexual Harassment of Students Prohibited

                             3207 – Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

                             3210 – Nondiscrimination

                             3421 – Child Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation Prevention

                             2022P – Procedure Electronics Resources (Acceptable Use)


Legal References:      Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

                             Chapter 9A.44, RCW Sex Offenses

                             Chapter 9A.88, RCW Indecent exposure – Prostitution

                                                RCW 28A.400.320 Crimes against children – Mandatory termination of classified employees – Appeal- Recovery of salary or compensation by district

                             RCW 28A.405.470 Crimes against children – Mandatory termination of certificated employees – Appeal – Recovery of salary or compensation by district.

                             RCW 28A.405.475 Termination of certificated employee based on guilty plea or conviction of certain felonies – Notice to superintendent of public instruction – Record of notices.

                             RCW 28A.410.090 Revocation or suspension of certificate or permit to teach – Criminal basis – Complaints – Investigation – Process.

                             RCW 28A.410.095 Violation or noncompliance – Investigatory powers of superintenent of public instruction – Requirements for investigation of alleged sexual misconduct towards a child – Court orders – Contempt – Written findings required. 

                             RCW 28A.410.100 Revocation of authority to teach – Hearings.

                             Chapter 28A.640, RCW  Sexual Equality

                             Chapter 28A.642, RCW Discrimination Prohibition

                             Chapter 49.60, RCW Washington State Law Against Discrimination

                             Chapter 181-87 WACProfessional Certification – Acts of Unprofessional Conduct

                             Chapter 181-88 WACSexual Misconduct, Verbal and Physical Abuse – Mandatory Disclosure – Prohibited Agreements


Management Resources:     2015 October Issue


La Center School District

Adoption Date: August 24, 2010; Revised: July 25, 2017, March 26, 2024