Employee-Student Interactions

Employee Code of Conduct for Adult-Student Interactions

Our Policy

Santa Catalina School encourages close, warm relationships between students and employees. At the same time, it is important that each employee’s conduct is at all times professional. Employees must maintain appropriate boundaries between themselves and students to ensure that they avoid even the perception of inappropriate conduct. Some activities may seem innocent from an employee’s perspective, but can be perceived as flirtation or sexual insinuation from the perspective of a student or parent. The objective of this policy is not to restrain positive relationships between employees and students, but to prevent relationships that could lead to, or may be perceived as, sexual misconduct. Employees must ensure that they do not cross the boundaries of a professional teaching relationship. Employees should be aware that failure to comply with this Code of Conduct, or to report violations of this Code, may lead to discipline up to and including immediate termination of employment.

The guidelines below apply not just to interactions with current students, but any interactions with minors with whom an adult interacts as part of their employment with Santa Catalina (e.g., 8th grade applicants, siblings of students, former students who are minors, students visiting from other schools, etc.).

Examples of Inappropriate Boundary Crossings

  • Engaging in unnecessary physical contact with a student in either a public or private situation. In applying this standard, the school will consider the age and developmental stage of the student, as well as the contextual circumstances. Ask permission before touching any student. Examples of generally accepted physical personal contact in safe-touch areas (i.e., shoulder, upper back, arm) if the behavior is obviously appropriate, such as when giving a handshake, pat on the back, a high five or brief embrace for celebration or support.
  • Making or participating in, sexually inappropriate comments; sexual jokes, stories, or jokes/comments with sexual innuendo with or in the presence of students, or displaying sexually-oriented materials in the presence of students, except where part of approved curriculum.
  • Intentionally being alone with a student outside of the school’s program expectations and/or outside of assigned responsibilities in a space that cannot be observed by others where other staff or supervisors do not know the interaction is occurring.
  • Intentionally being away from campus with a student without parent or supervisor permission.
  • Socializing or having other contact with a student or group of students off campus, outside of school-sponsored activities, without supervisor knowledge.
  • Using or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs in the presence of students or encouraging them to use alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Engaging in preferential treatment or excessive personal attention toward a particular student including giving gifts to an individual student that are of a personal or intimate nature; seeking emotional involvement with a student for an employee’s benefit, or discussing the employee’s personal problems with a student or sharing intimate information about their lives with a student. Employees also should not ask students for such information unless it is part of their job responsibilities (e.g., school counselors).
  • Engaging in inappropriate electronic communications with students including having communication of any kind with a current student on any social media platform (e.g. “friending” a student on Facebook, following a student on Twitter, letting a student follow the employee on Instagram) (See Social Media Policy in Section IX below) or interacting with current students by text or e-mail, unless the communication is exclusively related to the adult’s professional work for the school (e.g., a class, a sports team, etc.).
  • Becoming involved with a student so that a reasonable person may suspect inappropriate behavior.

Santa Catalina prohibits all employees from engaging in sexual relations with current students at any time. The school also prohibits employees from engaging in sexual relations with any former student under the age of 21. If at any time the school learns that a current employee is dating or having a sexual relationship with an alumna or alumnus under the age of 21, that employee will be terminated. In the event the alumna or alumnus is under the age of 18 or there is any suspicion that the employee engaged in misconduct with the alumna or alumnus when they were a student, Santa Catalina will report the conduct to the appropriate authorities.

Reporting Concerns

Santa Catalina encourages parents, students, alumni, or other members of the school community to report concerns. Please email the Head of School (hos@santacatalina.org) and/or Chair of the Board of Trustees (boardchair@santacatalina.org). Such reports will be kept as confidential as possible except as necessary for Santa Catalina to take appropriate action. Santa Catalina will not retaliate against anyone who reports conduct that may violate the Code of Conduct.