Student/Employee Interaction Policy
EMPLOYEE- STUDENT BOUNDARIES
Kirby School employees are expected and required to maintain professional relationships with students whether on campus or away from campus. This policy is also equally applicable to volunteers and interns that work with students at the School. Trespassing the boundaries of an employee-student relationship is an abuse of power and a betrayal of the Kirby community’s trust.
Some activities may seem innocent from an employee’s perspective, but may be perceived as flirtatious, sexually suggestive, or otherwise inappropriate, from a student’s or parent’s perspective. In maintaining professional relationships you must be diligent to avoid any conduct that is not a professional or appropriate employee-student interaction or could be perceived as such.
This policy is not intended to restrict positive and supportive relationships between employees and students, which are appropriate in an educational environment. This policy is intended to restrict and prevent employee-student interactions that could lead to, or may be perceived as, as flirtatious, sexually suggestive, or otherwise inappropriate.
The below are protocols and requirements all employees must follow. These protocols and requirements are not an exhaustive list of prohibited employee conduct, but rather a general framework for describing inappropriate employee conduct that is prohibited.
- Do not initiate or allow unnecessary physical contact with a student, either in a public or private setting. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to the following: initiating a hug; kissing of any kind; and, any intimate physical contact, such as touching, pinching, massaging, rubbing or brushing against the body.
- You are prohibited from having any sexual or romantic interactions or relationships with students or recent graduates (defined as a former student who last attended Kirby within the past 3 years). Dating, and any other type of one-on-one social interaction between an employee and student, is prohibited.
- When meeting with a student one-on-one, you must balance potential privacy concerns with appropriate professionalism and should avoid meeting in locations that are closed off or not visible or accessible to others.
- Do not be alone in a room with a student unless there is a window permitting others to view the room or the door is open.
- Do not allow students in any classroom without adult supervision.
Communication with Students:
- Employees must act with transparency; any interaction with a student should be something that you would feel comfortable saying or doing in front of that student’s parents and the employee’s supervisor.
- You are prohibited from making jokes, using slang, or suggestive comments or innuendo of a sexual or discriminatory nature in communicating with students (or at any other time at work).
- Employee communications with students must be for School related reasons only and must be professional in all respects. Minimize communications with students outside of regular school hours, on weekends and during school breaks. Any electronic communication with individual students when school is on break, on weekends, or after 8:00pm on weekdays, must copy email@example.com and/or the student’s parents.
- Do not engage in private correspondence with students. Always use your school email account when corresponding with students, except as otherwise authorized by this policy or your supervisor. If you receive a personal communication from a student and the communication is not appropriate, keep a copy of the communication and inform your supervisor.
- Do not give students your cell phone number without the knowledge and permission of your supervisor. Communications with students via employees' personal cell phones and/or text messages should be avoided except when authorized by your supervisor and necessary because of special circumstances (for example, when communicating about a group meeting point while on a school trip). All text message communications with students must copy another Kirby employee or the student’s parents.
- Do not “friend” your students or allow students access to your social media.
- Do not give current or past students your private email address without permission from the Head or Assistant Head of School.
Off Campus Conduct:
- Do not engage in personal relationships with parents of students that create any conflict between school and personal interests or favoritism, or the appearance of such conflict or favoritism, and disclose any personal relationships with parents to the Head of School.
- You are prohibited from meeting with students off campus unless it is a pre-approved school activity with other individuals present, or if you are meeting with students to plan school events or gatherings, you must first obtain the permission of your supervisor and the student’s parents.
- Do not visit students in their homes unless their parents are present; do not invite students to you home unless it is a school event for a group of students, and you have obtained the parents’ and your supervisor’s prior permission.
- Do not transport students in your vehicle unless it is for a school event, and with the parents’ and your supervisor’s prior permission.
- Do not hire students to work in your home or at your personal events.
- You must avoid creating excessive emotional attachments beyond the healthy employee-student relationship. You are expected to use sound judgment as to how much information you share with students about your own personal life, not share information for your own personal emotional gratification, and must avoid sharing any information about romantic, sexual, or other types of private or sensitive information or other information that is inappropriate to share.
- Students should not become overly friendly or familiar with you; neither you nor the student should call each other by nicknames.
- If a student shares confidential information that could pose a threat to the student or others, you have an obligation to and must notify your supervisor or a school counselor, or make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect in keeping with the school’s child abuse reporting policy and mandated reporting laws.
- Do not buy or give personal gifts to individual students.
- Do not loan money or give money to students.
- You may not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs or consume alcohol or drugs at any school-sponsored activities where students are present. You are also prohibited from discussing any personal alcohol or drug use, whether past or current, with students.
- You should consult with your supervisor if a student is or seems to be pushing your personal boundaries, attempting to establish an inappropriate relationship, or it appears another type of problem is beginning to emerge.
- Do not take the role of a surrogate parent with a student; do not criticize a student’s parent to the student.
Employees must understand their own responsibility for ensuring they do not cross the protocols and requirements established in this policy. Disagreeing with the wording or intent of the established protocols and requirements does not alleviate employees from strictly complying with this policy and will be considered irrelevant for disciplinary purposes. If you find yourself in a difficult situation related to boundaries or have questions related to these protocols and requirements, you should consult the Head of School or your supervisor. If you become aware of another employee failing to adhere to this policy, you must immediately report the matter to the Head of School.
Revised July 12, 2021.