DH(LOCAL) - EMPLOYEE STANDARDS OF CONDUCT

Each District employee shall perform his or her duties in accordance with state and federal law, District policy, and ethical standards. The District holds all employees accountable to the Educators' Code of Ethics. [See DH(EXHIBIT)]

Each District employee shall recognize and respect the rights of students, parents, other employees, and members of the community and shall work cooperatively with others to serve the best interests of the District.

An employee wishing to express concern, complaints, or criticism shall do so through appropriate channels. [See DGBA]

Violations of Standards of Conduct

Each employee shall comply with the standards of conduct set out in this policy and with any other policies, regulations, and guidelines that impose duties, requirements, or standards attendant to his or her status as a District employee. Violation of any policies, regulations, or guidelines, including intentionally making a false claim, offering a false statement, or refusing to cooperate with a District investigation, may result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment. [See DCD and DF series]

Weapons Prohibited

The District prohibits the use, possession, or display of any firearm, location-restricted knife, club, or prohibited weapon, as defined at FNCG, on District property at all times.

Exceptions

No violation of this policy occurs when:

  1. A District employee who holds a Texas handgun license stores a handgun or other firearm in a locked vehicle in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area provided by the District, provided the handgun or other firearm is not in plain view; or
  2. The use, possession, or display of an otherwise prohibited weapon takes place as part of a District-approved activity supervised by proper authorities. [See FOD]

Electronic Communication

Use with Students

A certified employee, licensed employee, or any other employee designated in writing by the Superintendent or a campus principal may use electronic communication, as this term is defined by law, with currently enrolled students only about matters within the scope of the employee's professional responsibilities.

Unless an exception has been made in accordance with the employee handbook or other administrative regulations, an employee shall not use a personal electronic communication platform, application, or account to communicate with currently enrolled students.

Unless authorized above, all other employees are prohibited from using electronic communication directly with students who are currently enrolled in the District. The employee handbook or other administrative regulations shall further detail:

  1. Exceptions for family and social relationships;
  2. The circumstances under which an employee may use text messaging to communicate with individual students or student groups;
  3. Hours of the day during which electronic communication is discouraged or prohibited; and
  4. Other matters deemed appropriate by the Superintendent or designee.

In accordance with ethical standards applicable to all District employees [see DH(EXHIBIT)], an employee shall be prohibited from using electronic communications in a manner that constitutes prohibited harassment or abuse of a District student; adversely affects the student's learning, mental health, or safety; includes threats of violence against the student; reveals confidential information about the student; or constitutes an inappropriate communication with a student, as described in the Educators' Code of Ethics.

An employee shall have no expectation of privacy in electronic communications with students. Each employee shall comply with the District's requirements for records retention and destruction to the extent those requirements apply to electronic communication. [See CPC]

Personal Use

All employees shall be held to the same professional standards in their public use of electronic communication as for any other public conduct. If an employee's use of electronic communication violates state or federal law or District policy, or interferes with the employee's ability to effectively perform his or her job duties, the employee is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Reporting Improper Communication

In accordance with administrative regulations, an employee shall notify his or her supervisor when a student engages in improper electronic communication with the employee.

Disclosing Personal Information

An employee shall not be required to disclose his or her personal email address or personal phone number to a student.

Safety Requirements

Each employee shall adhere to District safety rules and regulations and shall report unsafe conditions or practices to the appropriate supervisor.

Harassment or Abuse

An employee shall not engage in prohibited harassment, including sexual harassment, of:

  1. Other employees. [See DIA]
  2. Students. [See FFH; see FFG regarding child abuse and neglect.]

While acting in the course of employment, an employee shall not engage in prohibited harassment, including sexual harassment, of other persons, including Board members, vendors, contractors, volunteers, or parents.

An employee shall report child abuse or neglect as required by law. [See FFG]

Relationships with Students

An employee shall not form romantic or other inappropriate social relationships with students. Any sexual relationship between a student and a District employee is always prohibited, even if consensual. [See FFH]

As required by law, the District shall notify the parent of a student with whom an educator is alleged to have engaged in certain misconduct. [See FFF]

Tobacco and E‑Cigarettes

An employee shall not smoke or use tobacco products or e‑cigarettes on District property, in District vehicles, or at school-related activities. [See also GKA]

Alcohol and Drugs / Notice of Drug-Free Workplace

As a condition of employment, an employee shall abide by the terms of the following drug-free workplace provisions. An employee shall notify the Superintendent in writing if the employee is convicted for a violation of a criminal drug statute occurring in the workplace in accordance with Arrests, Indictments, Convictions, and Other Adjudications, below.

An employee shall not manufacture, distribute, dispense, possess, use, or be under the influence of any of the following substances during working hours while on District property or at school-related activities during or outside of usual working hours:

  1. Any controlled substance or dangerous drug as defined by law, including but not limited to marijuana, any narcotic drug, hallucinogen, stimulant, depressant, amphetamine, or barbiturate.
  2. Alcohol or any alcoholic beverage.
  3. Any abusable glue, aerosol paint, or any other chemical substance for inhalation.
  4. Any other intoxicant or mood-changing, mind-altering, or behavior-altering drug.

An employee need not be legally intoxicated to be considered "under the influence" of a controlled substance.

Exceptions

It shall not be considered a violation of this policy if the employee:

  1. Manufactures, possesses, or dispenses a substance listed above as part of the employee's job responsibilities;
  2. Uses or possesses a controlled substance or drug authorized by a licensed physician prescribed for the employee's personal use; or
  3. Possesses a controlled substance or drug that a licensed physician has prescribed for the employee's child or other individual for whom the employee is a legal guardian.

Sanctions

An employee who violates these drug-free workplace provisions shall be subject to disciplinary sanctions. Sanctions may include:

  1. Referral to drug and alcohol counseling or rehabilitation programs;
  2. Referral to employee assistance programs;
  3. Termination from employment with the District; and
  4. Referral to appropriate law enforcement officials for prosecution.

Notice

Employees shall receive a copy of this policy.

Arrests, Indictments, Convictions, and Other Adjudications

An employee shall notify his or her principal or immediate supervisor within three calendar days of any arrest, indictment, conviction, no contest or guilty plea, or other adjudication of the employee for any felony, any offense involving moral turpitude, and any of the other offenses as indicated below:

  1. Crimes involving school property or funds;
  2. Crimes involving attempt by fraudulent or unauthorized means to obtain or alter any certificate or permit that would entitle any person to hold or obtain a position as an educator;
  3. Crimes that occur wholly or in part on school property or at a school-sponsored activity; or
  4. Crimes involving moral turpitude, which include:
    • Dishonesty; fraud; deceit; theft; misrepresentation;
    • Deliberate violence;
    • Base, vile, or depraved acts that are intended to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor;
    • Felony possession or conspiracy to possess, or any misdemeanor or felony transfer, sale, distribution, or conspiracy to transfer, sell, or distribute any controlled substance defined in Chapter 481 of the Health and Safety Code;
    • Felony driving while intoxicated (DWI); or
    • Acts constituting abuse or neglect under the Texas Family Code.
  5. Acts constituting public intoxication, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, or disorderly conduct, if any two or more acts are committed within any 12-month period.

Dress and Grooming

The dress and grooming of a District employee shall be clean, neat, in a manner appropriate for his or her assignment, and in accordance with the following standards:

  1. An employee shall be expected to dress in a manner that projects a professional image for the employee, the District, and the community.
  2. Style of clothing for males and females shall always reflect a professional and business-like atmosphere. Dresses, slacks, skirts, and blouses for females should not attract unfavorable attention. Males shall be expected to wear slacks, shirts, or appropriate professional attire.
  3. Administrators and supervisors shall have the discretion to determine appropriateness of attire for all personnel in certain grades or subjects (physical education, agriculture, auto mechanics, building trades, and special education), or for medical necessities.

Standards

The following standards shall apply:

  1. Cleanliness and neatness are expected of all staff at all times.
  2. Halters, garments with bare shoulders, bare backs, tank tops, spaghetti straps, muscle shirts, see-through garments, and revealing or provocative necklines shall not be permitted. In addition, clothing with the following is unacceptable:
    • Symbols, including but not limited to, symbols on clothing, jewelry, or other accessories that contain inappropriate meanings; advertise tobacco, alcohol products, or controlled substances; distract or cause undue attention; or result in a general negative impact on the education of students;
    • Inappropriate language; and
    • Phrases or slogans advertising tobacco, alcohol products, controlled substances, or political advertisements.
  3. Hats, caps, or other head coverings shall not be worn inside the building except as required by specific assignments or events.
  4. Hair, including facial hair, shall be clean and well-groomed.
  5. Footwear shall exclude rubber-soled flip flops.
  6. Leggings, warm-ups, wind suits, sweat suits, spandex or similar tight pants, exercise clothes, and/or any garment that may appear to be an undergarment is unacceptable.
  7. Blue denim jeans or blue denim capri pants shall not be worn on days when students are in regular attendance except for special emphasis days with the approval of the principal. When denim clothing is designated, it shall be clean and neat with no holes, extreme fading, or worn look.
  8. Jewelry shall not be worn in a visible pierced area other than the ear.
  9. Extensive tattoos, as determined by the principal, shall be covered at all times.
  10. A female staff member may wear short suits and capris as long as the pants are below the knee.
  11. A male staff member's hair must be cut so it does not hang below the top of the shoulders.

Exceptions

The following exceptions shall apply:

  1. Staff dress may be adjusted for schoolwide occasions (western day, school spirit day, and the like) upon approval of the principal.
  2. Auxiliary employees in maintenance, custodial, food service, or transportation positions; personnel who work in alternative settings; and positions requiring uniforms, such as police and security officers, are exempted from the general guidelines but shall comply with dress and grooming guidelines specified by their supervisors in the handbooks for those positions.
  3. Exceptions to guidelines shall be made by the Superintendent or designee as necessary to allow a staff member to observe religious customs and as necessary to accommodate medical needs or extenuating circumstances.

Communications Devices

A teacher shall only use a communications device for instructional purposes while conducting instructional programs and shall not normally leave the instructional setting to answer a communications device, except for the protection and safety of students during an emergency situation or for purposes as approved by the campus principal or District administration. A communications device is a telecommunications device that emits an audible signal, vibrates, displays a message, or otherwise summons or delivers a communication to the possessor, including, but not limited to, cell phones, personal digital assistants, and tablets.

Violation of Communications Device Policy

Violation of the communications device policy shall result in disciplinary action and shall be reflected in the evaluation.

Audio and Video Recording Devices

An employee shall not audio or video record a parent, community member, or District employee without the knowledge of the individual being recorded. The recording party shall provide a copy of the recording to the individual being recorded upon written request. Release of the recording shall be subject to Board policy and state and federal confidentiality laws, including, but not limited to, the Texas Public Information Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The audio or video recording of students shall be in accordance with Board policy FL. Uses of audio or video recordings shall be in compliance with Board policy and state and federal laws. The audio recordings of employee complaint conferences shall be in accordance with law and Board policy. [See DGBA]

An employee who is the subject of or a witness to a matter being investigated by District personnel or its agents shall be prohibited from electronically recording an authorized investigative interview conducted by District personnel or its agents. An employee may request that administration staff conducting the interview record the investigative interview. The District shall maintain custody of the recorded statement in accordance with the District's records retention policy and keep the recording confidential to the extent allowed by law. Upon written request, the employee may be provided access to the interview recording. Release of this information by an employee is subject to Government Code Section 552.023, prohibiting dissemination of the recording to unauthorized third parties.

Violation of Audio and Video Recording Policy

Violation of the audio and video recording policy shall result in disciplinary action, including a reduction in an evaluation.

Harlingen CISD

DH(LOCAL)-X

UPDATE 114

DATE ISSUED: 11/13/2019