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5253P - Maintaining Professional Staff-Student Boundaries Procedure

A boundary invasion is an act, omission, or pattern of behavior by any staff member that violates professional staff/student boundaries, does not have a bona fide health, safety, educational purpose, for the student and consistent with the staff member’s duties. Staff members shall not engage in boundary invasions of students, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

Boundary Invasion

  • Any type of inappropriate physical or sexual conduct with a student or any other conduct that violates District Regulations or State or Federal Law regarding student welfare, the educational environment, or conduct toward current or former students. Inappropriate physical conduct includes a single incident or pattern of being “overly touchy” with students without any legitimate educational or professional purpose; Showing naked, intimate, or unduly revealing photos to a student or asking a student to provide naked, intimate, or unduly revealing photos, or taking inappropriate photographs of a student, or taking photographs of students inconsistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), or taking an inordinate number of photographs of a student(s);
  • Any kind of flirtatious or sexual communications with a student, which includes but is not limited to banter, allusions, jokes or innuendos of a sexual nature;
  • Singling out a particular student or students for personal attention and friendship beyond the professional staff-student relationship. This includes, but is not limited to, allowing them to remain in the classroom during non-class times when they have other classrooms or school locations they are expected to be at, unilaterally removing a student from another class or activity, or a pattern of engaging in “peer like” behavior with one or more students;
  • Socializing where students are consuming alcohol, drugs or tobacco. Providing alcohol, drugs, or tobacco to students or failing to report their use of these substances;
  • For non-guidance/counseling staff, encouraging students to confide their personal or family problems and/or relationships. If a student initiates such discussions, staff members are expected to refer the student to appropriate guidance/counseling staff. In either case, staff involvement should be limited to a direct connection to the student’s school performance;
  • Sending students on personal errands unrelated to any educational purpose;
  • Disclosing personal, sexual, family, employment concerns, or other private matters to one or more students;
  • Addressing students, or permitting students to address staff members with personalized terms of endearment, pet names, or otherwise in an overly familiar manner;
  • Maintaining personal contact (including “friending” or “following”) a student on any social networking application or device;
  • Exchanging or providing personal gifts, cards or letters with or to an individual student which are unrelated to school activities;
  • Sending phone, e-mail, text, instant messenger, or other forms of written or electronic communication to students when the communication is unrelated to the staff member’s duties, school work or other legitimate school business. If staff members have educational or legitimate school business to conduct, they shall include a parent/guardian or a school administrator on the communication. If staff members receive a student’s communication, the staff member shall reply by including the student’s parent/guardian and an administrator. Staff members should use school e-mail addresses and phone numbers and the parents’ phone numbers for communications with students, except in an emergency situations;
  • Socializing or spending time with students (including but not limited to activities such as going out for beverages, meals or movies, shopping, traveling, and recreational activities) outside of school-sponsored events, except as participants in organized community activities;
  • Giving a student a ride alone in a vehicle in a non-emergency situation; or failing to timely report that occurrence to both a parent/guardian and an administrator;
  • Unnecessarily invading a student’s privacy, (e.g. walking in on the student in the bathroom or a hotel room on a field trip);
  • Being alone with an individual student out of the view of others; and/or
  • Any home visits unless other adults are present, the student(s) are invited for an activity related to school, and the student’s parent/guardian and an administrator are informed and have consented.

Reporting Violations

Students and their parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to notify the principal (or other administrator) if they believe a staff member may be engaging in conduct that violates Regulation 5253 or this procedure.

All staff members or volunteers must promptly notify the supervisor of a staff member or volunteer suspected of engaging in a boundary invasion toward a student. 

Staff members should:

  • Not wait before reporting suspicious behavior or try to determine whether there is an innocent explanation;
  • Not confront or discuss the matter with the staff member at issue or with anyone else, but maintain confidentiality to protect privacy and avoid rumors; and
  • Document for their own records, that they notified an administrator, including to whom and what they reported.

Reminder About Reporting Sexual Abuse

In some situations, the staff member engaging in boundary invasions with a student may also have engaged in child abuse or sexual abuse, which is defined in Regulation 3421 - Child Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation Prevention. Remember that according to law (RCW 26.44.020) and Board Policy 3421, all school personnel who have reasonable cause to believe that a student has experienced sexual abuse by an adult or student are required to make a report to Child Protective Services and/or law enforcement. (See Regulation 3421.)

Disciplinary Action

Staff violations of this Regulation may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. The violation will also be reported to the state Office of Professional Practices. Violations involving sexual or other abuse will also result in referral to Child Protective Services and/or law enforcement in accordance with the board’s Regulation on Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect Training.


All new staff members and volunteers will receive training on appropriate staff/student boundaries within three months of employment or beginning of service. Such initial training may be on-line training. A more detailed, live training covering this entire procedure shall occur every two years for all schools and work sites. Site administration and classified employee supervisors will also address professional boundaries at staff meetings early in the year. 

Dissemination of Regulation and Reporting Protocols

This Regulation and procedure shall be included on the District website.



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