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Inappropriate Behavior Protocol

The purpose of this protocol is to provide all staff members with information to increase their awareness of their role in protecting children from sexual abuse and inappropriate conduct by adults.

Applicable Law

Washington state law, RCW 28A.400.317 Physical abuse or sexual misconduct by school employees “Duty to report” Training states that; A certificated or classified school employee who has knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that a student has been a victim of physical abuse or sexual misconduct by another school employee, shall report such abuse or misconduct to the appropriate school administrator… If you become aware of an adult engaging in behavior with children at school which may be construed as “sexual grooming behavior,” you must report the matter immediately to your principal or the District Title IX Officer if the principal is somehow involved in the conduct.

Adult/Student Boundaries


  • Maintaining appropriate personal space
  • Reasonable eye contact
  • Student aides perform work in the learning environment that is related to educational puposes
  • Conversations with students are appropriate to the school environment and support student learning and growth
  • Appropriate use of student conferences in a manner consistent with educational purpose
  • Student/teacher relationship is centered on school events and activities and is professional in nature
  • Maintain fair and equal treatment of all students with only occasional educationally justifiable expectations
  • Student-teacher communication is appropriate to the educational purpose and understood by general school population
  • Leaders of extracurricular activities maintain clear standards around gender issues and harassment
  • A pat on the back, or shoulder or arm
  • Exercising good judgment on whether to, and under what circumstances it is appropriate to, touch students
  • Teachers aware of student needs and referring them to appropriate guidance/counseling or school related support services (nurse, etc.)
  • Maintaining contact for educational purposes via district authorized e-mail, phone service, or on-line learning sites


  • Invading personal space – too close
  • Maintaining prolonged, intense eye contact
  • Student aides are assigned duties that meet personal needs of the teacher or are unrelated to any educational purpose
  • Conversations with students become personal in nature and confidential – asking students to “just keep it our secret”
  • Ongoing pattern of spending time alone with student in a manner inconsistent with or devoid of educational purposes/expectations
  • Student/teacher relationship is maintained outside of school events (taking student to lunch or a movie alone; giving special gifts; consistent giving rides home alone; receiving or writing secret notes) and is personal in nature
  • Singling out a particular student or students for personal attention and friendship beyond the professional staff-student relationship (e.g. covering for or providing excuses for special student privileges, writing passes repeatedly for favored students to cover tardiness or absences)
  • Student-teacher communication has implied messages, inside understanding, jokes or innuendos of a sexual nature that are not commonly understood by general school population
  • Leaders of extracurricular activities encourage atmosphere of loose and inappropriate boundaries around gender and harassment issues
  • Shoulder massage, lingering touches, requesting affection “give me a hug,” “give me a kiss”
  • Touching students inappropriately or in ways that may lead students to misinterpret the intent due to their individual circumstances, cultural standards, or their developmental stage
  • Teachers (without appropriate training in effective advising) acting as helpers for serious student problems
  • Maintaining personal contact via private phone, e-mail, texting or other social networking web sites

This list is not an exhaustive list. If a staff member engages in such behaviors, there may be great cause for concern based on the profiles of educators who became sexual abusers. The bottom line is that such behaviors cross the line from professional and caring into personal and dangerous and with rare exceptions are not acceptable.

Staff members who observe such conduct must understand that such behaviors are inappropriate and take action, in doing so they protect children, the staff member, and the profession.

Staff Responsibilities

Your role in preventing sexual abuse of students is two-fold:

  1. To avoid engaging in behaviors that could be mistaken for grooming behaviors;
  2. To report situations where such behaviors take place.
  • Do not engage in the behaviors described above or behaviors like them. Keep your interactions with students on a professional level. Refer students who need emotional or other support to appropriately trained staff such as counselors. Staff can be caring while maintaining an appropriate level of professional decorum.
  • Duty to Report: If a staff member observes any adult engaging in the inappropriate behaviors described above with students, or in other behaviors which raise concerns:
    • Inform your principal or the appropriate person at the District Office at your earliest opportunity. Make your report to the appropriate administrator, but do not make the report to an administrator who is involved in the conduct in question. Do not wait or mull things over or attempt to determine for yourself whether the behavior you have observed has a plausible, innocent explanation. You may not understand the entire situation, and allowing the conduct to continue could be bad for both the staff member and students.
    • DO NOT confront or discuss the matter with the suspected individual. Do not inform the person of your concern, unless it is a situation where immediate intervention is necessary to protect a child.
    • Maintain confidentiality. Failure to do so may impede official investigations and foster untrue rumors. You owe a legal duty of confidentiality to students in matters that a reasonable person would want to remain confidential. Therefore, you are directed not to tell your concerns to anyone other than your directing administrator/supervisor, Human Resources Director, Child Protective Services or the police. If approached by anyone other than the appropriate administrator, CPS or the police, or a person conducting an official investigation on behalf of the District, you may not discuss the matter unless otherwise permitted in writing by the administrator in charge of the matter. If you desire, and it is possible and appropriate, confidentiality will be maintained about the report to administration.
    • Document who you notified, where and when and what you reported for your own records.
    • RCW 26.44 Mandatory Reporting Duties for Educators: Washington law requires educators to ensure that a report is made to the proper law enforcement agency of any situation where the educator has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect. Child abuse may include physical injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or negligent treatment or maltreatment. The report must be made at the educator’s first opportunity, but in no case later than within 48 hours. Educators must report the situation to an appropriate administrator and document the action which has been taken to the Title IX office.
    • If you observe misconduct between students, you shall take appropriate action to intervene. “They are not my students,” “It’s my lunch time,” “It is the duty monitor’s or principal’s job,” or “I am in a hurry” are unacceptable excuses for not intervening. Any questions about anything related to this process may be referred to your site principal or the following:

Treena Sterk, Title IX Coordinator


Any student, staff or community member who violates this policy by engaging in conduct defined above that directly or indirectly causes intimidation, harassment or physical harm to another student or staff member, on a school campus or at school activity, will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.