A new policy that would limit interaction between teachers and students outside the classroom is being considered by the Alpine School District.
The move is an apparent reaction to an incident in which a teacher provided a book about sex to two students who wanted an answer to a question of a sexual nature.The policy question is expected to be on the agenda at the board's next business meeting Jan. 10. The proposed policy gives teachers guidelines about how to interact with their students and discourages socializing outside of school.
Alpine Superintendent Steven Baugh, said it would be nice if teachers could be friends with students outside of school, but that's not possible in today's society.
"Our teachers are becoming increasingly aware that (outside interactions with students) are misinterpreted. There are those rare, rare instances when an adult will take advantage of a child," Baugh said. "Many, many things teachers could do for children they just cannot do now."
The incident involving the teacher occurred in May, when two of her fifth-grade students were in her home for a slumber party. According to the former teacher, the students asked a sexual question, and rather than answer them herself, she gave them a Masters and Johnson sexual textbook to read. Parents complained about the incident and the teacher was fired.
The new policy would require teachers to obtain permission from their principal before meeting with students outside the regular school day, and children would not be permitted to visit their teachers' homes or travel with them alone. Further, the proposed policy says, "District employees shall avoid being alone at any time with an individual student unless it is necessary in the performance of professional duties within the scope of employment; i.e. counseling, administrative tasks, disciplining, instruction etc."
Board President Jan Lewis, said the district's attorney advised administrators to develop the new policy.
"I think that (the policy) is very timely. Legally, we were reminded that this is a big issue that we need to be careful of," she said. "This is a caution and a protection for both our employees and the individual students."
Baugh said most teachers are already following the procedures outlined in the policy, but others may need encouragement to do so.
"Approval to participate in these activities is already being sought. This is intended as a reminder to our people," he said. "We don't believe that the policy will be unduly restrictive."