What You Didn’t Know Was In the Board Policy Manual
EXCERPTED BY MICHELLE LICHT
We all have plenty to do, and I would bet that reading the Board of Education policy manual is not at the top of the list. In an attempt to save you some time, I’ve provided some of the highlights below. Some are important to know, some you may be surprised to see, and others are just included in this article to make you laugh. (Did you know we have rules about laser pointers?)
STAFF USE OF COMPUTERIZED INFORMATION RESOURCES
Generally, the same standards of acceptable staff conduct which apply to any aspect of job performance shall apply to use of the District’s computer system. Employees are expected to communicate in a professional manner consistent with applicable District policies and regulations governing the behavior of school staff. Electronic mail and telecommunications are not to be utilized to share confidential information about students or other employees.
The School District takes no position on an employee's decision to participate in the use of social media or social networking sites for personal use on personal time. However, personal use of these media during District time or on District-owned equipment is allowed on a limited basis. In addition, employees are encouraged to maintain the highest levels of professionalism. They have responsibility for addressing inappropriate behavior or activity on these networks, including requirements for mandated reporting and compliance with all applicable District policies and Regulations.
Staff data files and electronic storage areas shall remain District property, subject to District control and inspection. The Assistant Superintendent for Technology Services or his/her designee May access all such files and communication without prior notice to ensure system integrity... ...and that users are complying with requirements of this policy and accompanying regulations. Staff should NOT expect that information stored on the District’s computer system will be private.
The Board of Education recognizes the right of its employees, as citizens, to engage in political activities and to exercise their constitutionally-protected rights to address matters of public concern.
However, a District employee's constitutional rights to raise matters of public concern are limited when the speech or action occurs on school grounds and/or during school times. When such speech or action occurs on school grounds and/or during school time, the Board of Education can impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place and manner of the speech or action, and can further regulate the content of such speech when it materially imperils the efficient operation of the school.
Teachers may not use their classrooms or school surroundings as a means to promote their personal political views and beliefs. However, teachers are encouraged to address issues of current events for their instructional and informational value to students, to invite public and/or political figures to visit the classroom as a community resource, and to motivate students to participate in the political process.
All teaching staff shall be required to take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New York before the effective date of their appointment or employment.
DEFENSE AND INDEMNIFICATION OF BOARD MEMBERS AND EMPLOYEES
Pursuant to the provisions of Public Officers Law Section 18, and upon compliance by the employee with the requirements of this statute, the District shall provide for the defense of the employee in any civil action or proceeding, state or federal, arising out of any alleged act or omission which occurred or allegedly occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of his/her public employment or duties. Furthermore, the District shall indemnify and save harmless its employees in the amount of any judgment obtained against such employees in a state or federal court, or in the amount of any settlement of a claim, provided that the act or omission from which such judgment or claim arose occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of his/her public employment or duties. However, in the case of a settlement, the duty to indemnify and save harmless shall be conditioned upon the approval of the amount of the settlement by the Board of Education.
LEAVES OF ABSENCE
Upon presentation of a written request from the American Red Cross and with the approval of the Superintendent, employees certified by the American Red Cross as disaster volunteers shall be granted leave from work with pay for up to twenty (20) days in any calendar year to participate in specialized disaster relief operations. This leave shall be provided without loss of seniority, compensation, sick leave, vacation leave or other overtime compensation to which the volunteer is otherwise entitled.
Employees shall be granted up to four (4) hours of paid leave on an annual basis to undertake a screening for breast cancer; employees shall be granted up to four (4) hours of paid leave on an annual basis to undertake a screening for prostate cancer (i.e., male employees are entitled to a total of eight (8) hours for both screenings). This leave shall be excused leave and shall not be charged against any other leave to which the employee is entitled.
The District shall provide reasonable unpaid break time or permit the use of paid break time or meal time each day to allow an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to three (3) years following child birth. The District shall make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location in close proximity to the work area where the nursing mother can express milk in privacy. The District shall not discriminate against an employee who chooses to express breast milk in the workplace.
STAFF- STUDENT RELATIONS (FRATERNIZATION)
The Board of Education requires that all School District employees maintain a professional, ethical relationship with District students that is conducive to an effective, safe learning environment; and that staff members act as role models for students at all times, whether on or off school property and both during and outside of school hours. Staff must establish appropriate personal boundaries with students and not engage in any behavior that could reasonably lead to even the appearance of impropriety. Staff members are prohibited, under any circumstances, to date or engage in any improper fraternization or undue familiarity with students, regardless of the student's age and/or regardless of whether the student may have "consented" to such conduct. Further, employees shall not entertain students or socialize with students in such a manner as to create the perception that a dating relationship exists. Similarly, any action or comment by a staff member which invites romantic or sexual involvement with a student is considered highly unethical, in violation of District policy, and may result in the notification of law enforcement officials and the filing of criminal charges and/or disciplinary action by the District up to and including termination of employment. Inappropriate employee behavior includes, but is not limited to, flirting; making suggestive comments; dating; requests for sexual activity; physical displays of affection; giving inappropriate personal gifts; frequent personal communication with a student unrelated to course work or official school matters; providing alcohol or drugs to students; inappropriate touching; and engaging in sexual contact and/or sexual relations. ("Frequent personal communication with a student unrelated to course work or official school matters" means any form in which that personal communication may occur including, but not limited to, voice or textbased communication via phone, e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging or through social networking Web sites.)
S A F E T Y CONDI T IONS AND PROGRAMS
Each classroom teacher is responsible for the safe and proper use of all instructional materials and equipment by students in his/her classroom. Laser pointers are to be used by students only when such use is approved and supervised by the classroom instructor. Students will be advised not to stare directly into the beam from a laser pointer or direct the beam at the eyes of another individual. Students are not to aim the pointer into the audience. Students are to be made aware of the hazards associated with the particular type of laser pointer used.