Employee Ethics; Code of Professional Conduct; and Conflict of Interest
All District employees are expected to maintain high standards in their job performance, demonstrate integrity and honesty, be considerate and cooperative, and maintain professional and appropriate relationships with students, parents/guardians, staff members, and others.
The Superintendent or designee shall provide this policy to all District employees and students and/or parents/guardians in their respective handbooks, and ensure its posting on the District’s website, if any.
Professional and Appropriate Conduct
Professional and appropriate employee conduct are important Board goals that impact the quality of a safe learning environment and the school community, increasing students’ ability to learn and the District’s ability to educate. To protect students from sexual misconduct by employees, and employees from the appearance of impropriety, State law also recognizes the importance for District employees to constantly maintain professional and appropriate relationships with students by following established expectations and guidelines for employee-student boundaries. Many breaches of employee-student boundaries do not rise to the level of criminal behavior but do pose a potential risk to student safety and impact the quality of a safe learning environment. Repeated violations of employee-student boundaries may indicate the grooming of a student for sexual abuse. As bystanders, employees may know of concerning behaviors that no one else is aware of, so their training on: (1) preventing, recognizing, reporting, and responding to child sexual abuse and grooming behavior; (2) this policy; and (3) federal and state reporting requirements is essential to maintaining the Board’s goal of professional and appropriate conduct.
The Superintendent or designee shall identify employee conduct standards that define appropriate employee-student boundaries, provide training about them, and monitor the District’s employees for violations of employee-student boundaries. The employee conduct standards will require that, at a minimum:
- Employees who are governed by the Code of Ethics for Illinois Educators, adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), will comply with its incorporation by reference into this policy.
- Employees are trained on educator ethics, child abuse, grooming behaviors, and employee-student boundary violations as required by law and policies 2:265, Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure; 4:165, Awareness and Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Grooming Behaviors; 5:90, Abused and Neglected Child Reporting; and 5:100, Staff Development Program.
- Employees maintain professional relationships with students, including maintaining employee-student boundaries based upon students’ ages, grade levels, and developmental levels and following District-established guidelines for specific situations, including but not limited to:
- Transporting a student;
- Taking or possessing a photo or video of a student; and
- Meeting with a student or contacting a student outside the employee’s professional role.
- Employees report prohibited behaviors and/or boundary violations pursuant to Board policies 2:260, Uniform Grievance Procedure; 2:265, Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure; and 5:90, Abused and Neglected Child Reporting
- Discipline up to and including dismissal will occur for any employee who violates an employee conduct standard or engages in any of the following:
- Violates expectations and guidelines for employee-student boundaries.
- Sexually harasses a student.
- Willfully or negligently fails to follow reporting requirements of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (325 ILCS 5/), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq.), or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. § 7926).
- Engages in grooming as defined in 720 ILCS 5/11-25.
- Engages in grooming behaviors. Prohibited grooming behaviors include, at a minimum, sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is any act, including but not limited to, any verbal, nonverbal, written, or electronic communication or physical activity, by an employee with direct contact with a student, that is directed toward or with a student to establish a romantic or sexual relationship with the student. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- A sexual or romantic invitation.
- Dating or soliciting a date.
- Engaging in sexualized or romantic dialog.
- Making sexually suggestive comments that are directed toward or with a student.
- Self-disclosure or physical exposure of a sexual, romantic, or erotic nature.
- A sexual, indecent, romantic, or erotic contact with the student.
Statement of Economic Interests
The following employees must file a Statement of Economic Interests as required by the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act:
- Building Principal;
- Head of any department;
- Any employee who, as the District’s agent, is responsible for negotiating one or more contracts including collective bargaining agreement(s), in the amount of $1,000 or greater;
- Hearing officer;
- Any employee having supervisory authority for 20 or more employees; and
- Any employee in a position that requires an administrative or a chief school business official endorsement.
Ethics and Gift Ban
School Board policy 2:105, Ethics and Gift Ban, applies to all District employees. Students shall not be used in any manner for promoting a political candidate or issue.
Prohibited Interests, Conflict of Interest; and Limitation of Authority
In accordance with 105 ILCS 5/22-5, “no school officer or teacher shall be interested in the sale, proceeds, or profits of any book, apparatus, or furniture used or to be used in any school with which such officer or teacher may be connected,” except when the employee is the author or developer of instructional materials listed with ISBE and adopted for use by the Board. An employee having an interest in instructional materials must file an annual statement with the Board Secretary. For the purpose of acquiring profit or personal gain, no employee shall act as an agent of the District nor shall an employee act as an agent of any business in any transaction with the District. This includes participation in the selection, award, or administration of a contract supported by a federal award or State award governed by the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) (30 ILCS 708/) when the employee has a real or apparent conflict of interest. A conflict of interest arises when an employee or any of the following individuals has a financial or other interest in or a tangible benefit from the entity selected for the contract:
- A member of the employee’s immediate family;
- An employee’s partner; or
- An entity that employs or is about to employ the employee or one of the individuals listed in one or two above.
Employees shall neither solicit nor accept gratuities, favors, or anything of monetary value from contractors, potential contractors, or parties to agreements or subcontracts. Situations in which the interest is not substantial or the gift is an unsolicited item of nominal value must comply with State law and Board policy 2:105, Ethics and Gift Ban.
Guidance Counselor Gift Ban
Guidance counselors are prohibited from intentionally soliciting or accepting any gift from a prohibited source or any gift that would be in violation of any federal or State statute or rule. For guidance counselors, a prohibited source is any person who is (1) employed by an institution of higher education, or (2) an agent or spouse of or an immediate family member living with a person employed by an institution of higher education. This prohibition does not apply to:
- Opportunities, benefits, and services available on the same conditions as for the general public.
- Anything for which the guidance counselor pays market value.
- A gift from a relative.
- Anything provided by an individual on the basis of a personal friendship, unless the guidance counselor believes that it was provided due to the official position or employment of the guidance counselor and not due to the personal friendship. In determining whether a gift is provided on the basis of personal friendship, the guidance counselor must consider the circumstances in which the gift was offered, including any of the following:
- The history of the relationship between the individual giving the gift and the guidance counselor, including any previous exchange of gifts between those individuals.
- Whether, to the actual knowledge of the guidance counselor, the individual who gave the gift personally paid for the gift or sought a tax deduction or business reimbursement for the gift.
- Whether, to the actual knowledge of the guidance counselor, the individual who gave the gift also, at the same time, gave the same or a similar gift to other school district employees.
- Bequests, inheritances, or other transfers at death.
- Any item(s) during any calendar year having a cumulative total value of less than $100.
- Promotional materials, including, but not limited to, pens, pencils, banners, posters, and pennants.
A guidance counselor does not violate this prohibition if he or she promptly returns the gift to the prohibited source or donates the gift or an amount equal to its value to a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.
Employees shall not engage in any other employment or in any private business during regular working hours or at such other times as are necessary to fulfill appropriate assigned duties.
Additionally, staff members may not tutor, for pay, any student currently enrolled in the District.
|INCORPORATED by REFERENCE||5:120-E (Code of Ethics for Illinois Educators)|
|REVIEW HISTORY||1995, 1998, 2004, 2017, 2019, May 2022, January 2023|