Employee Code of Conduct & Ethics
Interaction, Conduct, and Ethics Standards Required of All Employees
All employees are required to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of Orangewood Christian School’s students at all times. The following sets forth some examples of inappropriate and prohibited behavior. Any similar behavior that creates even the appearance of impropriety must be avoided and must be promptly reported as outlined below:
As employees of an educational institution, you are held to a higher standard by parents, students, colleagues, and members of the public. We support and endorse a strict policy of respect toward students and expect employees to act at all times as adult role models. In addition, students typically respond better to faculty and administrators and evidence greater levels of respect when appropriate expectations are established right from the beginning of the relationship. Therefore, you should ensure that you do not engage in any interaction or communication that may reflect even the appearance of impropriety or make students feel uncomfortable in your presence. If you are not sure whether a particular comment or action may be appropriate, it is far better to avoid the behavior than risk negative consequences.
The following are examples of inappropriate interactions and communications with students. This list is not all-inclusive and other, similar activities should also be avoided:
- Communicating with students at home for non-school related matters;
- Encouraging or allowing students to call you by an inappropriate nickname or first name;
- Touching students or their clothing in non-professional ways or inappropriate places, or touching a student with aggression, in frustration, or when you are highly emotional;
- Giving your phone number or asking for other students’ phone numbers for use in situations other than for legitimate school reasons;
- Making too personal comments to students (about their clothing, hair, nail polish, personal habits, etc.)
- Being alone with a student in a room, vehicle, or other areas;
- Sending e-mails, text messages or writing notes to students of a personal nature;
- “Friending” a student on a social networking site;
- Giving students rides, except in emergency situations;
- Engaging students to complete personal errands for you;
- Suggesting or permitting a student to sit on your lap at any time;
- Creating a social networking site and then inviting students to view or permitting them to participate in the site;
- Discussing the personal affairs of other students or your colleagues;
- Speaking with innuendo to suggest a relationship or sexual subjects;
- Flirting with a student;
- Visiting students to “hang out” in their hotel rooms when on field trips or sporting events;
- Swearing, making inappropriate sexual, racial/or ethnic comments;
- Yelling or abusive actions toward a student;
- Drinking or using illegal drugs at school, around or with students, or at any school-related event when students are present;
- Telling off-color jokes; and
- Dating or engaging in consensual relationships with students.
In addition, employees must adhere to the following additional guidelines:
Employees should never physically move, grab, touch, or hit a student, or grab something from a student, with aggression or because of frustration. You should never physically threaten a student with words or objects. You should never treat a student with anything less than respect and dignity. If a student does not follow directions as expected, you should communicate clearly your instructions and, if the student does not listen or respond appropriately, you should take appropriate action, seeking assistance from the administration as necessary.
Employees shall maintain the highest level of honesty, integrity, and professionalism in their dealings with students, parents, their co-workers, and the public.
Employees must ensure that all standard safety rules and guidelines are followed, whether in the classroom, on a field trip, on the bus, or at any school-related event.
Employees shall not share with persons who do not have a legitimate need to know information regarding the personal lives of students and their parents. This includes information relating to a student’s disability, impairment, medical condition, medications, grades, and disciplinary actions; or a parent’s financial condition, marital problems, etc. Employees should note, however, that to the extent any personal information potentially pertains to a concern of abuse, abandonment, or neglect, such information must be promptly reported as discussed in our Child Abuse Reporting Policy.
Employees shall comply with applicable laws, school policies, regulations and related rules and are prohibited from engaging in any activities that could involve Orangewood Christian School in any unlawful practice.
Employees have an obligation to keep children and our campus safe. If you have information reflecting that any person who may regularly or periodically visit the school’s campus (student, employee, parent, spouse of an employee, family member, volunteer, or contractor) has been accused, arrested, or convicted of any type of potential abuse or sexual misconduct toward any other person, you must immediately report such information to the Executive Director.
Employees must promptly report any concerns relating to child abuse, abandonment, or neglect in accordance with the School’s Child Abuse Reporting Policy.
Employees must participate in yearly training on ethics and standards.
Reporting Procedure: If you have information that raises the possibility that an employee has engaged in inappropriate behavior or misconduct that might affect the health, safety, or welfare of a student, you must notify one of the following individuals immediately. If you are unsure whether a particular action or comment is inappropriate, you should err on the side of caution and report the concern.
Do not attempt to resolve the situation yourself. It is vital that one of the individuals above be notified so that Orangewood Christian School can handle the situation appropriately. Failure to report inappropriate behavior or misconduct that may affect the health, safety or welfare of a child may result in discipline, up to and including termination.
If you have information that raises the possibility that an employee has engaged in child abuse, you must report such concerns as set forth in the school’s Child Abuse Reporting Policy. Failure to do so may result in discipline, up to and including termination.
You will not be retaliated against or disciplined in any way for making a good faith report of misconduct. If you believe that any employee has retaliated against you for such good faith report, you must immediately report that concern to one of the above individuals. In addition, you should note that Florida’s child abuse reporting law (Fla. Stat. 39.203) provides immunity to persons who report actual or suspected cases of child abuse in good faith.
Timing of Reports: Reporting of complaints or concerns should be made promptly so that rapid and constructive action can be taken. Therefore, while no fixed reporting period had been established, we expect employees to make reports as soon as they have reason to believe that an employee’s conduct may affect a student’s health, safety, or welfare. In addition, even if you are currently hearing about an employee’s alleged past misconduct, you must report your concern so that Orangewood Christian School can investigate the situation and ensure that appropriate action, if any, has been taken. If the information that you have to report involves the potential of child abuse, please refer to the reporting guidelines under the separate Child Abuse Reporting Policy in this handbook.
Investigatory Process and Confidentiality: The administration will assess the information provided and will investigate reports of misconduct. The investigation will be tailored to the report and may include individual interviews with the complaining individual, the person accused of inappropriate conduct and, where necessary, with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may have relevant knowledge. The School will attempt to maintain the confidentiality of the information to the extent possible, consistent with the School’s obligations to properly investigate.
Disciplinary and Other Related Action: Orangewood Christian School will discipline any individual found to have engaged in inappropriate behavior or misconduct that may affect the health, safety, or welfare of students. In addition, the School will discipline any person whom it determines was aware of the circumstances and failed to report it. Moreover, to the extent that the individual who knowingly failed to report such misconduct holds a Florida teaching certificate, the Florida Education Practices Commission may suspend the educator’s certificate for such failure.
Employer References: Only authorized management personnel of Orangewood Christian School are permitted to respond to requests for references from potential employers regarding a current or former employee. Any person authorized responding to such references who does so at the request of a prospective employer or the current or former employee will be immune from liability pursuant to Fla. Stat. 768.095, as long as such response is truthful and not intended to violate the current or former employee’s civil rights.
Employer immunity from liability; Disclosure of Information Regarding Former or Current Employees: An employer who discloses information about a former or current employee to a prospective employer of the former or current employee upon request of the prospective employer or of the former or current employee is immune from civil liability for such disclosure or its consequences unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the information disclosed by the former or current employer was knowingly false or violated any civil right of the former or current employee protected under chapter 760.
Child Abuse Reporting Obligations
Matters that Must be Reported. Florida's law requires that all school personnel immediately report to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) any knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Abuse includes sexual abuse by another child.
Abuse: any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired.
Neglect: when a child is deprived of necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment or a child is permitted to live in an environment when such deprivation or environment causes the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired.
Abandonment: a situation in which the parent or caregiver responsible for the child’s welfare makes no significant contribution to the child’s care and maintenance. This includes leaving a child without adult supervision or an arrangement appropriate for the child’s age or mental or physical condition so that the child is unable to care for the child’s own needs or another’s basic needs or is unable to exercise good judgment in responding to any kind of physical or emotional crisis.
Juvenile (or child-on-child) sexual abuse: any sexual behavior by a child toward another child which occurs without consent, without equality (lacking the same level of power in the relationship), or as a result of coercion, including making obscene phone calls, the showing or taking of lewd photographs, or varying degrees of direct sexual contact, such as fondling, digital penetration, rape, and various other sexually aggressive acts.
“Harm”: to a child’s health or welfare can occur when any person:
Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical, mental, or emotional injury, including willful acts causing injuries such as:
a. Sprains, dislocations, or cartilage damage.
b. Bone or skull fractures.
c. Brain or spinal cord damage.
d. Intracranial hemorrhage or injury to other internal organs.
e. Asphyxiation, suffocation, or drowning.
f. Injury resulting from the use of a deadly weapon.
g. Burns or scalding.
h. Cuts, lacerations, punctures, or bites.
i. Permanent or temporary disfigurement.
j. Permanent or temporary loss or impairment of a body part or function.
Purposely gives a child poison, alcohol, drugs, or other substances that substantially affect the child’s behavior, motor coordination, or judgment or that results in sickness or internal injury.
Inflicts inappropriately or excessively harsh disciplinary action that is likely to result in physical injury, mental injury, or emotional injury. Corporal discipline may be considered excessive or abusive when it results in any of the following or other similar injuries those injuries set forth in a. through j. above.
Commits, or allows to be committed, sexual battery, or lewd or lascivious acts, against the child.
Reporting Process: Reports of abuse must be made to the state by calling the toll-free Abuse Hotline at (800) 962-2873. If you would like assistance in making the report, you may contact the school principal. Seeking assistance from Orangewood Christian School’s administration does not satisfy your obligation to report child abuse directly to DCF. After you have made a report, please notify the Executive Director so the School can assist with investigations and/or ensure that appropriate personnel is watchful for signs of future potential abuse of the child(ren) in question. Employees who report concerns of suspected abuse, abandonment, or neglect are expected to cooperate in any investigation by child protective services.
Criminal Penalties for Failure to Report: It is a third-degree felony to fail to report suspected abuse, abandonment, or neglect. In addition, an educator’s teaching certificate may be suspended from any person who knowingly failed to report child abuse, abandonment or neglect.
Immunity for Reporting in Good Faith. Under the provisions of Florida Stat. § 39.203, employees who, in good faith, report suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment are immune from civil or criminal liability for reporting such information and participating in any investigation. Other than the report itself and communication with the school principal and Executive Director, the information about the suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect should remain confidential for the protection of the child. You will not be penalized by Orangewood Christian School for reporting abuse in good faith.
Reporting Other Concerning Information. If you have received information reflecting that any person who may visit the school’s campus (student, employee, parent, spouse of an employee, family member, volunteer, or contractor) has been accused, arrested, or convicted of any type of potential abuse or sexual misconduct toward any other person, you must immediately report such information to the Executive Director.
In addition, employees are reminded of their obligations to report employee misconduct that affects the health, safety, or welfare of children, in accordance with our Conduct, Interaction, and Ethics Standards Required of All Employees, which is contained in a separate reporting policy. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action and could result in the suspension of an educator’s teaching certificate.