Maintaining Professional Boundaries
Safe Haven School strives to provide a psychologically and emotionally safe atmosphere in which students can learn and grow. We encourage healthy therapeutic relationships between students and staff to promote student success. All staff, volunteers, and contract providers (speech, OT, Music therapy) are expected to maintain professional boundaries.
This policy is designed to protect students from sexual misconduct and abuse, define professional boundaries and expectations, protect staff members from misunderstandings and false accusations as well as meet ISBE guidelines.
Illinois Public Act 097-1147, requires public schools to provide child sexual abuse prevention education for children in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grades.
Students will be presented with an age-appropriate curriculum addressing Erin’s Law compliance. Parents will receive notice prior to this presentation and will have the opportunity to opt their child out of it. Further information on the topics covered will be provided to parents.
Staff will complete training using Global Compliance Network (GCN) Online Training Option.
Sessions include – Mandated Reporters, Ethics and Boundaries for School Employees, Faith’s
law, and Sexual Harassment.
Definition of “sexual misconduct” in Section 22-85.5;
- Incorporate the Code of Ethics for Illinois Educators;
- Incorporate the statutory definition of “sexual misconduct” in Section 22-85.5;
- Identify expectations for maintaining professional relationships with students and appropriate staff-student boundaries, recognizing the age and developmental level of the students served, and establish guidelines for the following situations: (1) transporting a student, (2) taking or possessing a photo or a video of a student, and (3) meeting with a student or contacting a student outside of the employee’s or agent’s professional role;
- Reference employee reporting requirements under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act and Title IX; and
- Reference required employee training related to child abuse and educator ethics applicable under State or federal law
- The law specifically provides that any violation of the employee code of professional conduct or failure to report a violation may subject an employee to discipline, up to and including dismissal from employees.
Illinois School Code(105 ILCS 5/22-85.5)
(c) In this section, “sexual misconduct” means any act, including, but not limited to, any verbal, nonverbal, written, or electronic communication or physical activity by an employee or agent of the school district, charter school, or nonpublic school with direct contact with a student that is directed toward or with a student to establish a romantic or sexual relationship with the student. Such an act includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:
(1) A sexual or romantic invitation
(2) Dating or soliciting a date
(3) Engaging in sexualized or romantic dialog
(4) Making sexually suggestive comments that are directed toward or with a student
(5) Self-disclosure or physical exposure of sexual, romantic, or erotic nature
(6) A sexual, indecent, romantic, or erotic contact with the student
The following general standards apply to all staff/student interactions.
- Personal contact between students and staff members must always be appropriate to the circumstances, non-sexual, and unambiguous in meaning.
- Staff members shall maintain a strictly professional relationship with students, whether on or off school property and during or outside of school hours.
- Staff members are responsible for maintaining professional and appropriate physical and emotional boundaries with students at all times.
- Staff members are responsible for treating all students consistently and in line with Safe Haven School’s mission, policy, and expectations.
The following is a non-exclusive list of actions that will be regarded as violating the professional boundaries that all staff are expected to maintain with all students. In addition, repeatedly engaging in any of these activities or a combination of these activities are examples of grooming as defined in this policy.
- Targeting a particular student or students for personal attention or friendship beyond the normal staff member-student relationship.
- Meeting a student outside of school for personal reasons. All interactions must be school-based.
- Asking a student to keep a secret or coerce a student to confide in his/her personal or family problems. This example does not apply to Social Workers when meeting with students in a therapeutic session. If a student initiates a discussion of his/her personal or family problems, Educational staff are expected to be supportive and to refer the student to the appropriate Social Worker.
- Engaging in sexual banter, jokes, or innuendoes with students.
- Showing inappropriate images, including pornography, to students.
- Engaging in, discussions or planning future romantic or sexual relationships with students.
- Making sexual advances toward students or flirting with students.
- Intruding on a student’s personal physical space in any manner that makes a student uncomfortable
- Initiating unwanted physical contact
- Engaging in a student’s flirting or sexual overtures. Any incidents of a student flirting with a staff member or making sexual overtures towards a staff member should be reported immediately to the Executive Director or Clinical Director and followed up with a written incident form.
- Providing or offering to provide alcohol, drugs, or tobacco to students.
- Treating one student differently from others, not indicated in the IEP, either by providing privileges or failing to enforce school policy or other disciplinary action.
- Singling out any one student and providing them with a gift(s) or special treatment without the prior approval of the school Executive Director or Clinical Director.
- Address students with unique pet names or personalized terms of endearment that suggest a unique and overly familiar relationship.
- Allowing students to address them by a nickname, pet names or personalized terms of endearment that suggest an overly familiar relationship.
- Engaging in any type of inappropriate physical contact with students or any other conduct that might be considered harassment.
- Inviting/accepting students to be friends on social media sites.
- Share personal email, phone numbers, or addresses for school purposes.
- Being alone with an individual student out of the view of others with doors closed except during a therapeutic session
- Inviting or allowing individual students to visit the staff member’s home, visiting a student’s home, or meeting the student at another location outside of school for non-educational purposes. This does not apply to therapeutic home visits.
- Conducting a therapeutic home visit without parent permission and another adult present in the home.
- Any other behavior that could exploit the unique position of trust and authority between a student and employee.
- Communicating with students through any method not approved or not designated by the Safe Haven School Administration, including social networking apps or websites and texting or other instant messaging, one-on-one with any students.
- Communicating with students on any matters or subjects that do not pertain to school, school-related activities, or therapeutic services.
- Communicating with students via electronic means not using Safe Haven School devices (phone or computer).
- Engaging in any unacceptable behavior with students via electronic means.
- Staff members should also avoid any appearances of impropriety with students via electronic means.
- Accepting or initiating connections with current students on social networking sites.
- If a staff member has a social networking site for educational purposes, the staff member shall obtain permission from the Executive Director and parents to engage with students via this site.
- No student or staff is allowed to photograph any other student or staff without permission.
- Parental permission to photograph is required to photograph a student.
- With permission, student photos can be displayed within the school building for educational purposes, yearbooks, newsletters, and class assignments.
- Staff should not photograph or store students’ photos on their personal phones.
- Transporting any student without consent from the Executive or Clinical Director and parent/guardian of the student. Written consent from the parent/guardian must be given in advance of the trip.
- Transporting a student alone in a car. In the case of supportive attendance, the therapist should have the student sit in the back seat.
Mandated reporters based on the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act
- Safe Haven School staff, volunteers, independent contractors, and third-party operators are mandated reporters based on the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (ANCRA).
- A mandated reporter with reasonable cause to believe that a child known to him/her in his/her official capacity may have been abused or neglected shall immediately call the DCFS Hotline at 1-800-252-2873 (1-800-25-ABUSE).
Reporting Possible or Actual Violations of These Guidelines
- Students, parents/guardians and staff members shall notify the Executive Director if they believe a staff member may be engaging in conduct that violates these Guidelines. Prompt reporting protects all personnel.
- Staff should immediately notify the Executive Director if they believe that they are receiving inappropriate attention from a student or if they have been subject to sexual advances, comments or communications by a student.
- Incidents will be investigated by the Executive director and Clinical Director. A reasonable effort will be made to complete the investigation within ten (10) school days after the date of the report.
- The failure of a staff member to timely notify the Executive Director or Clinical Director of conduct that violates this policy could result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from employment.
- Staff members also have an independent obligation to notify DCFS if they suspect that child abuse has occurred.
Safe Haven School encourages healthy therapeutic relationships between students and staff. Staff should be aware of language used with students.
Please avoid the following:
- Terms of endearment
- Conversation or inquires of a sexual nature or orientation
- Comments about a student’s appearance beyond dress code, including excessive flattering or personal criticism.
- Humiliation, profanity
- Suggestive/inappropriate humor, banter, jokes, or innuendos of a sexual nature.
- Names such as buddy, pal, friend, and so on may give confusing messages
- Do not share your personal information.
- Your online boundary-setting is equally as important as your school-based boundary setting.
Examples to avoid:
- Discussing personal lifestyle details of self, other staff or pupils
- Sharing your political views, judgments, or opinions
- Keeping a secrets
Treating each student equally
- Be careful not to collude with students
- Be aware that students can often draw adults into conversations and situations about other students
- We should always remain within the boundaries of our professional roles
- Challenge discriminatory language/jokes
- Promote and respect differences
- Challenge negative ideas, assumptions, and behavior or language whenever it occurs.
- We are role models for our students.
- Avoid discussing information regarding other students or members of the staff. Be aware of being overheard while on the telephone or in the hallways
- Do not discuss students in public
- Never say a student’s full name in a public area
- Maintain high levels of appearance and personal self-care
- We are professionals at work and, as such, represent the school
- We are modeling self-respect
Exceptions to these prohibitions may include:
- An emergency or concern for that student’s immediate health or safety.
- A singular chance encounter at a public place provided the encounter provided there is no additional violation of this policy
ILLINOIS EDUCATOR CODE OF ETHICS
ISBE 23 ILLINOIS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE 22
Educators fundamentally believe that meeting the educational needs of each student is critical to the profession. The Illinois Educators’ Code of Ethics is a set of core principles, values, and
responsibilities that sets expectations to guide practice and inspire professional excellence in relation to federal, state, and local policies, rules, regulations, and collective bargaining agreements. Illinois educators encourage the application of these core principles throughout the education community.
Definition of Educator
An educator is a person who holds or is applying for a certificate or approval or is enrolled in an
Illinois pre-service education preparation program.
The Illinois Educator Code of Ethics contains five core principles which provide a foundation for the responsibilities and commitments of Illinois Educators.
- Responsibility to Students
- Responsibility to Self
- Responsibility to Colleagues and the Profession
- Responsibility to Parents, Families, and Communities
- Responsibility to the Illinois State Board of Education
PRINCIPLE 1: RESPONSIBILITY TO STUDENTS
The Illinois educator is committed to creating, promoting, and implementing a learning environment that is accessible to each student, enables students to achieve the highest academic potential, and maximizes their ability to succeed in academic and employment settings as a responsible members of society. Illinois educators:
▪ Embody the Standards for the School Service Personnel Certificate (23 Ill. Adm. Code 23),
the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards (23 Ill. Adm. Code 24), and Standards for
Administrative Certification (23 Ill. Adm. Code 29), as applicable to the educator, in the
▪ Respect the inherent dignity and worth of each student by assuring that the learning
environment is characterized by respect and equal opportunity for each student, regardless of
race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, language, or socioeconomic status;
▪ Maintain a professional relationship with students at all times;
▪ Provide a curriculum based on high expectations for each student that addresses individual
differences through the design, implementation, and adaptation of effective instruction; and
▪ Foster in each student the development of attributes that will enhance skills and knowledge
necessary to be a contributing member of society.
PRINCIPLE 2: RESPONSIBILITY TO SELF
The Illinois Educator is committed to establishing high professional standards for their practice and striving to meet these standards through their performance. Illinois Educators:
▪Assume responsibility and accountability for their performance and continually strive to
demonstrate proficiency and currency in both content knowledge and professional practice;
▪Develop and implement personal and professional goals with attention to professional
standards through a process of self assessment and professional development;
▪Represent their professional credentials and qualifications accurately; and
▪Demonstrate a high level of professional judgment.
PRINCIPLE 3: RESPONSIBILITY TO COLLEAGUES AND THE PROFESSION
The Illinois Educator is committed to collaborating with school and district colleagues and other
professionals in the interest of student learning. Illinois Educators:
▪Collaborate with colleagues in the local school and district to meet local and state educational
▪Work together to create a respectful, professional, and supportive school climate that allows all
educators to maintain their individual professional integrity;
▪Seek out and engage in activities that contribute to the ongoing development of the profession;
▪Promote participation in educational decision making processes;
▪Encourage promising candidates to enter the education profession; and
▪Support the preparation, induction, mentoring, and professional development of educators.
PRINCIPLE 4: RESPONSIBILITY TO PARENTS, FAMILIES, AND COMMUNITIES
The Illinois Educator will collaborate, build trust, and respect confidentiality with parents, families, and communities to create effective instruction and learning environments for each student. Illinois Educators:
▪Aspire to understand and respect the values and traditions of the diversity represented in the
community and in their learning environments;
▪Encourage and advocate for fair and equal educational opportunities for each student;
▪Develop and maintain professional relationships with parents, families, and communities;
▪Promote collaboration and support student learning through regular and meaningful
communication with parents, families, and communities; and
▪Cooperate with community agencies that provide resources and services to enhance the
PRINCIPLE 5: RESPONSIBILITY TO THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
The Illinois Educator is committed to supporting the Administrative and School Codes, state and
federal laws and regulations, and the Illinois State Board of Education’s standards for highly qualified educators. Illinois Educators:
▪Provide accurate communication to the Illinois State Board of Education concerning all
▪Maintain appropriate certification for employment; and
▪Comply with state and federal codes, laws, and regulations.