UNION COUNTY — The Union County School District has revised its policies governing the payment of district staff and how they are to conduct themselves both on and off duty.
The Union County Board of School Trustees voted this week to approve second and final reading of revised Staff Compensation and Staff Conduct policies.
The revised Staff Compensation policy states that its purpose is “to establish the basic structure for compensating district staff.” The policy divides the district’s staff into the categories of “professional” and “classified.”
For professional staff, the revised policy states that:
• The board will attempt to pay its professional employees at a level that will attract and hold personnel dedicated to education.
• The compensation of certificated certified personnel is based on the state salary schedule with local supplements as approved by the board. The schedule takes into consideration the levels of professional training and years of service in the district.
• Upon recommendation of the superintendent, the board awards contracts to professional personnel as required by state law.
• Upon recommendation of the superintendent, the board will notify teachers in writing of their employment status on or before the date the district extends offers of teaching employment for the following year. Personnel must give written acceptance of their contracts to the superintendent. Failure to give such notification constitutes contract rejection.
For classified staff, the revised policy states that:
• The board will set the salary of all classified employees on the recommendation of the superintendent. The board will set compensation according to the responsibility of the position, the services rendered, the provisions of the district’s operational budget and any applicable state and federal laws.
• The effective date for all salary changes as determined by the salary schedule or by action of the board is July 1.
The board also voted to approve second reading the district’s Staff Conduct policy.
The revised policy states that its purpose “is to establish the board’s vision for appropriate staff conduct.” It states that “the board reaffirms one of the oldest beliefs in education: One of the best methods of instruction is that of setting a good example.”
It further states that “the board expects the staff of the district to strive to set the kind of example for students that will serve them well in their own conduct and behavior and subsequently contribute to an appropriate school atmosphere.
“To that end, in dress, conduct, including conduct communicated or performed in person, in writing, and/or electronically, and interpersonal relationships, all staff should recognize that they are being continuously observed by students, other employees, parents/legal guardians and members of the community and that their actions and demeanor will be reflected in the conduct of the students may impair their effectiveness as employees.”
The policy also addresses the conduct of district employees outside of school.
“The personal life of an employee, including personal use of privately-owned electronic equipment outside of working hours such as email, text messages, instant messages or social networking sites, will be the concern of and warrant the attention of the board only as it may directly prevent the employee from effectively performing assigned functions during duty hours or as it violates local, state or federal law or contractual agreements.”
The policy also addresses what it describes as “immoral conduct by district employees and the consequences of that conduct.
“Immoral conduct on the part of any employee will constitute grounds for immediate suspension. No employee will commit or attempt to induce students or others to commit an act or acts of immoral conduct that may be harmful to others or bring discredit to the district. If it appears an employee may have violated the law, the district will cooperate with law enforcement agencies.”
The policy also lists the kinds of behavior district employees are forbidden to engage in, especially in the presence of students.
“Employees of the district, while on duty and in the presence of students, will not use profanity, will not use tobacco in any form, and will not consume or be under the influence of intoxicating beverages. They will not be involved in drug abuse or drug traffic.”
It further states that “violations of this policy by employees will be grounds for immediate suspension and possible termination of employment consistent with district policy and state law. In such cases, an employee will be informed of his/her right to a hearing or due process procedure that may be applicable under state or federal law or district policy.
The policy also lists some the actions “considered misconduct while on duty on or off district premises:”
• Possessing, using, manufacturing, distributing or dispensing any illegal drugs or alcohol while on duty or off district property.
• Fighting or deliberately harming another.
• Being absent without approval.
• Failure to adhere to safety and health rules as established by state law and the district.
• Refusing to follow a supervisor’s instructions and directions.
• Destroying school property intentionally
• Using obscene language which is unsuitable in the school setting.
• Having any interaction/activity of a sexual nature or intent with a student.
• Possessing weapons on school property.
• Using school property without proper authorization.
• Behaving in any inappropriate manner to the extent of adversely affecting the employee’s ability to perform his/her work.
• Harassment, intimidation or bullying of a student or fellow employee
Arrest Of An Employee
The policy states that the board delegates to the superintendent the “specific authority” … “to take appropriate employment action with regard to an employee who has been arrested.” Those actions depend upon the charges brought against the employee and whether or not the offense involved constitutes a danger to students and other district employees.
• Employees arrested for a misdemeanor offense that would indicate no danger or appearance of danger to pupils, co-employees or the district will normally not be subject to any employment action.
• Employees arrested for a misdemeanor offense that would indicate a possible danger or appearance of danger to the school district, co-employees or to pupils will normally be suspended with pay pending adjudication.
• Employees arrested for a misdemeanor offense that would indicate a possible danger or appearance of danger to pupils but not to the school district or co-employees will normally be reassigned to different responsibilities away from pupils within the district pending adjudication.
• Employees arrested for a felony offense will normally be suspended with pay pending adjudication.
• In certain circumstances, other employment action may be taken.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.