AB 500 — School Policies that Relate to Employee Interactions with Students
Assembly Bill 500 (AB500) adds section 44050 to the California Education Code and requires schools to provide sections related to employee interactions with students in its code of conduct to parents and guardians of enrolled students on the school's website. Listed below are portions of school policies from the School's Employee Handbook and the Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual that include language relating to interactions between students and employees. TUTORING AT THE WILLOWS COMMUNITY SCHOOL
The following guidelines have been designed to assist The Willows Community School teaching staff to tutor the School students and hopefully avoid potential conflicts among teaching staff and with students and their parents:
- A teacher interested in tutoring must submit his/her name to the Head of School, who will include it in the School’s list of “Recommended Tutors.” Please include specific areas of tutoring which interest you.
- Tutoring may be performed before or after School hours. Unless specifically approved by the Head of School, on-site tutoring is restricted to The Willows Community School students.
- Teachers may not actively solicit business from students or their parents. The tutor selection process is at the discretion of the parent.
- When a parent requests names of tutors, the School’s entire list of “Recommended Tutors” will be provided.
Before the beginning of the School year, each Head/Co Teacher should write a letter to the students and parents in his or her class. The letter should have the following items:
- Upbeat hello and excitement for the upcoming School year.
- What to expect when School resumes (e.g., new equipment, field trips, special units).
- Supplies needed (i.e., composition books, pocket folders, calculators, file card boxes etc.).
- Any summer assignments - book list, writing assignment etc.
Please give a draft of your letter to the Head of School before mailing it to the students and parents. You may request a set of class labels from the Office Manager. POLICY AGAINST HARASSMENT, DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION
It is the policy of the School to maintain a working environment that encourages mutual respect, promotes respectful and congenial relationships between employees and that is free from all forms of harassment, discrimination and retaliation by anyone, including supervisors, co-workers, vendors, students and parents. Harassment, discrimination or retaliation is expressly strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated by the School. Accordingly, School administration is committed to vigorously addressing complaints of unlawful harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation at all levels within the School.
This Policy applies to all persons involved in or related to the School’s community, including administrators, employees, students and business associates, including parents, vendors and independent contractors, unpaid interns and volunteers, and prohibits discrimination, harassment, or retaliation on the part of any employee, supervisor, manager, student, intern, third party or visitor (including by way of example, any parent/guardian, volunteer, independent contractor, agency temporary employee, vendor, applicant, intern, etc.). Every person covered under this Policy is prohibited from harassing, discriminating or retaliating against applicants, employees, independent contractors or students because: (1) of an individual’s protected classification, (2) of the perception of an individual’s protected classification, or (3) the individual associates with a person who has or is perceived to have a protected classification. Reported or suspected occurrences of unlawful harassment, discrimination and retaliation will be promptly and thoroughly investigated. The School has taken in the past and will continue in the future to take prompt and necessary steps to investigate and, where appropriate, correct any harassment, discrimination and retaliation. The School will not permit or condone any acts of retaliation against anyone who files harassment complaints or cooperates in the investigation of same.
This Policy prohibits treating an individual differently based on their actual or perceived protected classification(s) as defined by this Policy by taking an adverse action against or denying a benefit to that individual.
Harassment means words or conduct undertaken because of an individual’s protected classification, and which subjectively and objectively offend another person. Harassment based on sex or any other protected category is unlawful and will not be tolerated. Harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following examples of behavior undertaken because of an individual’s protected classification:
- Verbal harassment, such as unwelcome slurs, epithets, jokes, or verbal, graphic, or suggestive comments, propositioning, on the basis of a person’s protected classification, including religious race, color, religion (including all aspects of religious beliefs, observance or practice, including religious dress or grooming practices), sex (including gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender, pregnancy and breastfeeding), sexual orientation (including heterosexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality), national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, uniformed service member status, marital status, domestic partnership status, age, medical condition, genetic characteristics or information, and physical or mental disability. Verbal harassment includes comments on appearance including dress or physical features, or dress consistent with gender identification, or race-oriented stories and jokes.
- Visual forms of harassment, such as derogatory posters, notices, bulletins, cartoons, drawings, sexually suggestive objects, or e-mails on the basis of a protected classification.
- Physical harassment, such as assault, unwanted touching, intentionally impeding or blocking movement, grabbing, patting, leering, making express or implied job-related threats in return for submission to physical acts, mimicking, taunting, or any physical interference with normal work or movement.
- Sexual harassment, such as harassment based on gender (or transgender status), gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation (including homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality), pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical condition), or any conduct that may be reasonably perceived as sexual harassment. This may include conduct between members of the opposite or same gender, and may also include conduct not motivated by sexual desire. Sexual harassment comes in many forms – such as verbal, physical, visual or written acts (including electronic communications, such as email or social media) – and may include, but is not limited to, conduct such as:
- Unwelcome sexual advances;
- Offering any employment benefit in exchange for sexual favors;
- Conditioning any term or condition of employment upon participation in any sexual conduct whatsoever;
- Making threatening or engaging in any form of reprisal in connection with a negative response to any sexual advance;
- Verbal or written conduct such as teasing or making derogatory, degrading, offensive or sexually suggestive jokes, slurs, comments, remarks, or epithets, made in person or through written or electronic communication, including but not limited to email and social media, and other abusive conduct:
- Visual conduct such as leering, making sexual gestures, displaying or distributing sexually suggestive or derogatory material such as cartoons, photographs, depictions, emails, faxes or other writings or documents;
- Physical conduct such as touching, blocking or interfering in any way with another’s movement or work, or any assault upon another;
- Engaging in intimidating, threatening or aggressive conduct based on gender or sex;
- Any gender or sexually based conduct that has the purpose or effect of interfering with another’s work, or of creating a hostile or offensive work environment; or
- Any other form of abusive conduct, whether verbal, physical or written that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or a gratuitous sabotaging or undermining a person’s work performance
The above list is not all-inclusive, but is intended to illustrate some of types of conduct that are inappropriate. By definition, sexual harassment is not within the course and scope of an individual’s employment with the School.
It is the policy of the School to prevent and prohibit such harassment of any kind by co-workers, subordinates, supervisors or non-employees. Any employee found to have acted in violation of the foregoing policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, in the School's sole and absolute discretion, including warnings, reprimands, suspension and/or discharge, even for a first offense.
Any adverse conduct taken because an applicant, employee, or contractor has reported harassment or discrimination, or has participated in the complaint and investigation process described herein, is prohibited. Any act of reprisal violates this Policy and will result in appropriate disciplinary action. Examples of actions that might be retaliation against a complainant, witness or other participant in the complaint process include: (1) singling a person out for harsher treatment; (2) lowering a performance evaluation; (3) failing to hire, failing to promote, withholding pay increases, assigning more onerous work, abolishing a position, demotion, or discharge; (4) real or implied threats of intimidation to prevent an individual from reporting harassment or discrimination; (5) taking sides because an individual has reported harassment or discrimination; (6) spreading rumors about a complaint; or (7) shunning and avoiding an individual who reports harassment or discrimination.
Well-intentioned attempts to insulate or protect a complainant by changing his or her work environment, schedule or duties or by transferring the complainant to another office may be retaliatory. Before a supervisor takes such action, the supervisor should contact the Head of School.
The following individuals are protected from retaliation: those who make good faith reports of harassment or discrimination, and those who associate with an individual who is involved in reporting harassment or discrimination or who participates in the complaint or investigation process.
Any act of retaliation will be treated as a separate and distinct incident, regardless of the outcome of the harassment or discrimination complaint.
- Adult Interactions with Students
In faculty/staff relationships with students in particular, the power imbalance, coupled with the student’s relative inexperience and immaturity, makes imperative a strong sense of responsibility by the School and by each individual employee or other adult. It is a violation of this Policy for any employee or adult to engage in any sexual or other harassment, discrimination or retaliation, as described by this Policy, towards students and any such conduct will not be tolerated. All interactions and communications with students must be professional and beyond reproach and consistent with the educational objectives of the School. Any inappropriate interactions with students will lead to discipline, up to and including termination.
- Romantic and Sexual Relationships Between Supervisors and Subordinates
Romantic or sexual relationships between supervisors and subordinate employees are discouraged. There is an inherent imbalance of power and potential for exploitation in such relationships. The relationship may create an appearance of impropriety and lead to charges of favoritism by other employees. A welcome sexual relationship may change, with the result that sexual conduct that was once welcome becomes unwelcome and harassing.
- Process for Reporting Harassment, Discrimination, or Retaliation
Any applicant, employee, volunteer, administrator or contractor who feels he or she has been harassed, discriminated against or retaliated against in violation of this Policy should report the conduct immediately as outlined below so that the complaint can be resolved quickly and fairly.
- Talk to the Offending Party Directly
Employees are encouraged to help eliminate unwelcome behavior by talking with the offending party directly. Sometimes an individual is unaware that his/her conduct is offensive. The offensive behavior may be eliminated by simply informing the offender that the conduct or language in question is unwelcome and offensive and request that it be discontinued immediately. When the conduct in question continues after the offending person has been informed it is offensive, or if a person does not feel comfortable talking to the offending person directly, the employee should make a report in accordance with subsection 2 below or go directly to the formal reporting process.
If you believe this Policy has been violated and you do not want to confront the offending person, you should report the conduct to a supervisor, the Human Resources, or any other School management employee. You may also seek the advice, assistance or consultation of a supervisor, Human Resources, or any other School management employee. The individual may also seek the advice, assistance or consultation of the Head of School or report the conduct to the Head of School. Any supervisor, division head, or other management employee who receives such a report must in turn direct it to the Human Resources Director and Head of School. The Head of School will determine the appropriate level of investigation and response.
An individual who believes this Policy has been violated may provide a written complaint to a supervisor, director, or any other School management employee who in turn must direct the complaint to the Human Resources and the Head of School. The individual may also provide a written complaint to the Head of School.
- Option to Report to Outside Administrative Agencies
An applicant, employee, administrator and contractor has the option to report harassment, discrimination or retaliation to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) or the comparable federal agency, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (“EEOC”).
Every possible effort will be made to assure the confidentiality of complaints made under this Policy.
Upon receipt of a complaint of alleged harassment, discrimination or retaliation, the Head of School will determine whether to initiate an investigation. The investigation may be coordinated with the complainant’s department head and/or an outside investigator if deemed appropriate. The type of investigation undertaken, and the party chosen to conduct the investigation will depend on the nature of the complaint made and will be determined by the Head of School. After a verbal report or written complaint is made, the Head of School may take interim action as determined appropriate under the circumstances, including but not limited to, placing the accused on paid administrative leave. Generally, no interim action should be taken to change the complainant’s working conditions unless the complainant voluntarily consents to the temporary change. The complainant and accused will be informed that the School will not tolerate any retaliation and will take appropriate corrective or disciplinary action if any retaliation occurs. GIFTS AND FAVORS
No employee shall solicit or accept for personal use, or for the use of others, any gift, favor, loan, gratuity, reward, promise of future employment, or any other thing of monetary value that might influence, or appear to influence, the judgment or conduct of the employee in the performance of their job.
Employees can accept occasional unsolicited courtesy gifts or favors (such as business lunches, tickets to sporting events or cultural events, holiday baskets, flowers, etc.) so long as the gifts or favors have a market value under $100 if personal in nature (gifts to the office or to a particular program are not subject to this limitation but may not be extravagant), are customary in the industry, and do not influence or appear to influence the judgment or conduct of the employee. Please discuss any exceptions to this amount with your department head/supervisor or Head of School.
Employees are not to give, offer, or promise directly or indirectly anything of value to any student, parent or representative of a school, customer, a potential customer, a vendor or potential vendor, financial institution or potential financial institution with whom the School has or may have a business relationship.