Professional Conduct Policy
Table of Contents
- Mandated Reporter of Abuse and Neglect
- Definition of Sexual Misconduct
- Reporting and Documenting Reasonable Suspicions of Child Abuse, Child Neglect, Sexual Misconudct, Grooming or Inappropriately Intimate Relationships Involving Students and Staff
- Communication with Students and Parents
- Illinois Educator Code of Ethics
Mandated Reporter of Abuse and Neglect
All CICS employees are mandated reporters under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act [325 ILCS 5/4]. Employees are required under the law to report or cause a report to be made to the child abuse Hotline number (1-800-252-2873) whenever they have reasonable cause to believe that a child in their professional care may be abused or neglected. Employees must complete training and sign the Mandated Reporter form, provided by CICS upon joining the organization. The terms of the mandated reporter form are valid during the entire tenure of employment with CICS.
Definition of Sexual Misconduct
Section 22-85.5(c) defines “sexual misconduct” as:
- Any act, including, but not limited to, any verbal, nonverbal, written, or electronic communication or physical activity, by an employee or agent of the school district, charter school or nonpublic school with direct contact with a student that is directed toward or with a student to establish a romantic or sexual relationship with the student. Such an act includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:
- 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 a student.
Reporting and Documenting Reasonable Suspicions of Child Abuse, Child Neglect, Sexual Misconudct, Grooming or Inappropriately Intimate Relationships Involving Students and Staff
- A mandated reporter who has reasonable cause to believe that a child known to the reporter in the reporter’s official capacity may have been abused or neglected is required to immediately call the DCFS Hotline at 1-800-252-2873 (1-800-25-ABUSE). Mandated reporters must also report to DCFS any sexual misconduct by an adult against a student as well as any interactions or behaviors which suggest that an adult has or had an inappropriately intimate relationship with a child or may be grooming a child, even if the employee does not have reasonable suspicion that sex abuse is occurring or has occurred. NOTE: A mandated reporter’s legal obligation is not satisfied by notifying the reporter’s SMO principal/or the reporter’s supervisorl of the reporter’s suspicion.
- After notifying the Hotline, a mandated reporter must inform the SMO principal/or the reporter’s supervisor of the report. If the alleged abuser is the mandated reporter’s principal/supervisor, or the mandated reporter fears retaliation from their principal/supervisor, the mandated reporter must notify the Chief Governance Officer of the report. An anonymous report to DCFS does not satisfy a mandated reporter’s obligations under this policy.
- When the mandated reporter notifies the SMO principal/or the reporter’s supervisor that the mandated reporter has called the Hotline to report suspected abuse or neglect, the principal/supervisor must complete an Incident Report form in CICS’ electronic incident-reporting system (coming soon in SY22-23).
- Within 48 hours after making a DCFS Hotline call, the mandated reporter or the SMO principal/or the reporter’s supervisor must send written confirmation to the appropriate DCFS field office and upload a copy of the written confirmation into CICS’ electronic incident-reporting system (coming soon in SY22-23).
- A mandated reporter must not notify a parent, guardian, family or household member of allegations or investigations of suspected child abuse or neglect by a parent, guardian, family or household member. Notification will be handled by DCFS or the police.
- A mandated reporter must preserve confidentiality by discussing the reporter’s suspicions only with the alleged victim; the mandated reporter’s supervisor; the school nurse or social worker; district investigators; any employee of DCFS, the Chicago Police Department or the State’s Attorney’s Office; and the child’s court appointed attorney or guardian ad litem.
- A mandated reporter shall cooperate fully with investigators from the DCFS Division of Child Protection (DCP). Any employee subpoenaed to testify in any court or administrative proceeding shall notify the employee’s supervisor of the subpoena.
Communication with Students and Parents
Standards of Conduct for Maintaining Professional Boundaries between Staff and Students
The Standards apply to all CICS employees, volunteers, vendors, consultants and their employees, and other third-parties who interact with students (hereinafter “staff” or “staff members”).
For staff members whose children are students of CICS or who have family members who attend a CICS school, these Standards do not apply to the usual parent/child or familial relationship.
The following general standards apply to all CICS staff/student interactions.
- Personal contact between students and staff members must always be appropriate to the circumstances, non-sexual and unambiguous in meaning.
- Staff members shall maintain a strictly professional relationship with students, whether on or off school property and during or outside of school hours.
- Staff members are responsible for maintaining professional and appropriate physical and emotional boundaries with students at all times.
- Interactions between staff members and students should be based on mutual respect and trust.
- Staff members are responsible for treating all students consistently and in line with the educational mission of CICS.
The following behaviors are unacceptable and therefore strictly prohibited. Each behavior is an example of the inappropriate and prohibited crossing of a boundary and violation of the professional role of a CICS staff member. This list is not exhaustive.
- Staff members shall not target a particular student or students for personal attention or friendship. Gossiping with or about other students or staff and confiding in students beyond the normal staff member-student relationship is prohibited.
- Staff members shall not ask a student to keep a secret, promise to keep a student’s secret or coerce a student to confide their personal or family problems. This example does not apply when counseling staff are meeting with students. If a student initiates a discussion of their personal or family problems, staff members are expected to be supportive and to refer the student to the counseling staff member, if appropriate. CICS Standards of Conduct for Maintaining Professional Boundaries between Staff and Students
- Staff members shall not engage in sexual, racial or religious banter, jokes or innuendoes with students. Discriminatory and/or banter that marginalizes a student or groups of students is strictly prohibited. This applies to one’s actual or perceived membership in one or more of the Protected Categories (such as actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation).
- Staff members shall not show inappropriate images, including pornography, violence or explicit language to students.
- Staff members shall not engage in, discuss or plan future romantic or sexual relationships with students.
- Staff members shall not make sexual advances towards students or flirt with students.
- Staff members shall not engage with a student’s flirting or sexual overtures. Any incidents of a student flirting with a staff member or making sexual overtures towards a staff member must be reported pursuant to the section “Reporting Possible or Actual Violations of These Professional Standards.”
- Staff members shall not provide or offer to provide alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or paraphernalia to students.
- Staff members shall not single out any one student and provide the student with gift(s) or accept expensive or numerous gifts from students. Nominal gifts to multiple students/classroom are permissible. Nominal gifts to teachers as a form of appreciation are acceptable.
- Staff members shall not address students with unique pet names or personalized terms of endearment that suggest a unique and overly familiar relationship. Staff members shall not allow students to address them by their first name alone, nickname, pet names or personalized terms of endearment that suggest an overly familiar relationship.
- Staff members shall not comment on a student’s physical appearance.
- Staff members shall not engage in any type of inappropriate physical contact with students or any other conduct that might be considered harassment, discrimination, or retaliation under the CICS’ Non-Discrimination and Sexual Harassment, Harassment policies.
- Staff members shall not use corporal punishment or engage in any disciplinary action with the intention of producing physical or emotional pain (such as humiliation, embarrassment, threats, or other punitive or demoralizing actions toward a student), this includes conduct towards the children of staff members enrolled in CICS.
Reporting Possible or Actual Violations of These Standards
Students, parents/guardians and staff members shall notify the Office of Student Protections and Title IX (773-535-4400) and the SMO Principal if they believe a CICS or SMO staff member may be engaging in conduct that violates these Standards. Prompt reporting protects all personnel.
CICS Staff shall immediately notify an SMO Principal if they believe that they are receiving inappropriate attention from a student, or if they have been subject to sexual advances, comments or communications by a student. Any complaints/notifications shall be logged into Aspen by the SMO principal or assistant principal immediately.
The failure of a CICS staff member to timely report conduct that violates these Standards can result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from employment.
CICS Staff members are mandatory reporters and shall abide by the Reporting of Child Abuse, Neglect and Inappropriate Relations between Adults and Students and also have an independent obligation to notify the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) at 800-252-2873 (1-800-25-ABUSE) if they suspect that child abuse or neglect has occurred.
Acceptable Supportive/Encouraging Behavior
It is acceptable to show students that you care. CICS Staff Members can promote affirming, inclusive and positive environments for students with your words and body language, such as actively listening, appropriately responding and relaying that you are concerned for students. It is acceptable to high five, fist bump, handshake, or say ``give yourself a pat on the back.” In order to console a student it is permissible to offer tissue, offer them time to take a walk, or give the student a quick side hug.
Appearances of Impropriety
Most contact between students and staff is appropriate and professional. For example, it is appropriate for a teacher to address a student’s concerns over an assignment after class or provide one-on-one tutoring support. However, there are instances or activities that could be considered to be invasions of appropriate boundaries and can create an actual impropriety or the appearance of impropriety. In order to protect students and staff, staff should avoid activities with students that present opportunities for inappropriate relationships or that create the appearance that the staff and student are in an inappropriate relationship.
Examples of such activities are described below and must be avoided by staff members. This list is not exhaustive and there may be situations where these activities are within professional staff/student boundaries. Such situations where these activities may be within professional boundaries are when the staff member’s child is friends with another student. In this circumstance the activity may be acceptable as long as the staff member is not alone with the student (the staff member’s child or another person should be present) and the staff member’s supervisor is aware of the staff member’s activities.
- Being alone with an individual student out of the view of others, unless required in connection with providing educational services in accordance with your employment (e.g., health screening, counseling, therapy, nursing, personal care and other services required by individualized education plans, 504 plans or other medical condition action plans).
- Inviting or allowing individual students to visit the staff member’s home.
- Visiting a student’s home or meeting the student at another location outside of school for non-educational purposes.
- Transporting a student in a staff member’s private vehicle without permission of the SMO’s principal and the parent. Before an above activity has occurred, staff members should communicate with the appropriate administrator and obtain approval. If any of the above activity occurs and is not approved, the staff member must report the occurrence to the appropriate administrator as soon as possible.
CICS Staff members are strongly discouraged from transporting a student in the staff members’ private vehicle(s) under any circumstances. However, staff members may transport a student with the written consent of both the SMO principal and parent/guardian of the student. Written consent from the parent/guardian must be given in advance of the trip. If the SMO principal gives consent to a staff member to transport a student in a private vehicle, the SMO principal must maintain a copy of the CICS staff member’s driver’s license and insurance documentation. If a CICS staff member transports a student with permission from the parent/guardian and the principal, efforts should be made for an additional adult to be in the car such that the staff member is not alone with a student outside the view of others.
Illinois Educator Code of Ethics
PRINCIPLE 1: RESPONSIBILITY TO STUDENTS
The Illinois educator is committed to creating, promoting, and implementing a learning environment that is accessible to each student, enables students to achieve the highest academic potential, and maximizes their ability to succeed in academic and employment settings as a responsible member of society. Illinois educators:
- Embody the Standards for the School Service Personnel Certificate (23 Ill. Adm. Code 23), the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards (23 Ill. Adm. Code 24), and Standards for Administrative Certification (23 Ill. Adm. Code 29), as applicable to the educator, in the learning environment;
- Respect the inherent dignity and worth of each student by assuring that the learning environment is characterized by respect and equal opportunity for each student, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, language or socioeconomic status;
- Maintain a professional relationship with students at all times;
- Provide a curriculum based on high expectations for each student that addresses individual differences through the design, implementation, and adaptation of effective instruction; and ▪ Foster in each student the development of attributes that will enhance skills and knowledge necessary to be a contributing member of society.
PRINCIPLE 2: RESPONSIBILITY TO SELF
The Illinois Educator is committed to establishing high professional standards for their practice and striving to meet these standards through their performance. Illinois Educators: ▪Assume responsibility and accountability for their performance and continually strive to demonstrate proficiency and currency in both content knowledge and professional practice; ▪Develop and implement personal and professional goals with attention to professional standards through a process of self assessment and professional development;
- Represent their professional credentials and qualifications accurately; and
- Demonstrate a high level of professional judgment.
PRINCIPLE 3: RESPONSIBILITY TO COLLEAGUES AND THE PROFESSION
The Illinois Educator is committed to collaborating with school and district colleagues and other professionals in the interest of student learning. Illinois Educators: Illinois Educator Code of Ethics
- Collaborate with colleagues in the local school and district to meet local and state educational standards;
- Work together to create a respectful, professional and supportive school climate that allows all educators to maintain their individual professional integrity;
- Seek out and engage in activities that contribute to the ongoing development of the profession;
- Promote participation in educational decision making processes;
- Encourage promising candidates to enter the education profession; and
- Support the preparation, induction, mentoring and professional development of educators.
PRINCIPLE 4: RESPONSIBILITY TO PARENTS, FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES
The Illinois Educator will collaborate, build trust, and respect confidentiality with parents, families, and communities to create effective instruction and learning environments for each student. Illinois Educators:
- Aspire to understand and respect the values and traditions of the diversity represented in the community and in their learning environments;
- Encourage and advocate for fair and equal educational opportunities for each student;
- Develop and maintain professional relationships with parents, families, and communities;
- Promote collaboration and support student learning through regular and meaningful communication with parents, families, and communities; and
- Cooperate with community agencies that provide resources and services to enhance the learning environment.
Principle 5: Responsibility to the Illinois State Board of Education
The Illinois Educator is committed to supporting the Administrative and School Codes, state and federal laws and regulations, and the Illinois State Board of Education’s standards for highly qualified educators. Illinois Educators:
- Provide accurate communication to the Illinois State Board of Education concerning all certification matters;
- Maintain appropriate certification for employment; and
- Comply with state and federal codes, laws, and regulations.