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By Jacque Ritchie

School Board Gets Serious About: Staff Conduct With Students


September 28, 2018

School Board Gets Serious About: Staff Conduct With Students

By Jacque Ritchie, TALON

In the wake of the August 17, arrest of former AHS teacher James Coulter for criminal sexual contact with female students, Aztec Municipal School District is taking steps to ensure the future safety of both students and staff. Currently the school board is in the process of reviewing and updating existing protocols regarding Staff Conduct With Students.

Presented by POMS&Associates Insurance Brokers on behalf of the New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority to the New Mexico School Boards Association the 30 page document entitled Staff Conduct With Students, offers detailed, sometimes graphic description of behaviors that are considered in violation of a student’s (or a staff member’s) personal boundaries.

The following is an excerpt from Policy Advisory 157 (copyright 2018 New Mexico School Boards Association).

Prohibited romantic or sexual interaction involving students includes, but is not limited to:

Sexual physical contact.

Romantic flirtation, propositions, or sexual remarks.

Sexual slurs, leering, epithets, sexual or derogatory comments.

Personnel comments about a student’s body, appearance, attractiveness or physical attributes.

Sexual jokes, notes, stories, drawings, gesture or pictures.

Spreading sexual or romantic rumors.

Touching a students body or clothing in a sexual or intimate way.

Accepting or offering or giving massages other than in the course of an injury care administered by an athletic trainer, coach or health care


Restricting a student’s freedom of movement in a sexually intimidating or provocative manner

Displaying or transmitting sexual objects, pictures, or depictions.

The updated policy dated July 2018 also describes how to avoid “Appearances of Impropriety” advising staff avoid certain situations “whenever possible:” Possible situations include but are not limited to:

Social networking with students for non-educational purposes.

Being alone with an individual student out of view of others or in an inaccessible location...(Except in specific situations such as counseling sessions)

Taking a student out of class without a legitimate educational reason.

Being alone with a student behind closed doors without a legitimate educational reason.

Inviting a student to the staff member’s home.

Taking a student on outings without prior notification to and approval from both parent/guardian and the building principal.

The updated policy also details Electronic Communication, Maintaining Professional Boundaries and Home Visits.

According to Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter, the revised protocols have been reviewed and passed by the school board. Carpenter told TALON final edits are being completed and the document will then be resubmitted to the New Mexico School Board Association. Carpenter explained, “These policies and procedure have been in place for about 20 years so when changes take place it’s a process...” Carpenter is confident the updated version of the protocols will be presented to staff in a timely fashion. “First of all, we always scrutinize every hire using every resource available to ensure the highest ethical standards in our faculty and staff. When we are made aware of a situation involving boundaries, we address the situation seriously, harshly when appropriate in an expedient manner...Keeping our kids safe has always been and will continue to be our number one priority.”

To view the Policy Advisory 157 go to: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicHome.aspx?ak1000182



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