Students, parents, staff and faculty will notice a new policy in their school handbooks.
At its monthly meeting July 30, the McDuffie County Board of Education adopted the Code of Ethics for Educators as declared by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to govern staff and student interactions in the performance of job duties.
The policy comes during an ongoing criminal probe of a school teacher accused of improper e-mail messages with a 14-year-old girl. That teacher has resigned. Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents are investigating the case.
During his presentation to the school board, Superintendent Jim LeBrun recommended the policy be included in both student and employee handbooks. "I ask the board to approve for all employees, not just the certified," he said.
The policy is based on O.C.G.A. 20-02-0751.7 passed in a recent state legislative session. The PSC established a state-mandated process for students to report instances of alleged inappropriate behavior by a school employee. It also defines "sexual abuse" and "sexual misconduct," which includes, but is not limited to, comments, jokes, gestures, messages, notes, rumors, conversations and name-calling.
"We're not talking only about sexual physical misconduct, but any other type of sexual misconduct people may not realize they are doing, and they are tripping themselves up," Mr. LeBrun said.
The final adoption of the policy will be 30 days after the initial reading.
12 EXAMPLES OF MISCONDUCT
"Sexual misconduct" includes behavior by an educator that is directed at a student and intended to sexually arouse or titillate the educator or the child. Sexual misconduct by an educator includes, but is not limited to, the following behavior:
Making sexual comments, jokes, or gestures.
Showing or displaying sexual pictures, photographs, illustrations, or messages.
Writing sexual messages/graffiti on notes or the internet.
Spreading sexual rumors (i.e. saying a student was gay or a lesbian).
Spying on students as they dress, shower or use the restroom at school.
Flashing or "mooning" students.
Touching, excessively hugging, or grabbing students in a sexual way.
Forcing a student to kiss him/her or do something else of a sexual nature.
Talking or asking about a student's developing body, sexuality, dating habits, etc.
Talking repeatedly about sexual activities or sexual fantasies.
Making fun of a student's body parts.
Calling students sexual names.