Delegating new in-service for ethics, conduct is best
The question for this issue is answered by Kimberly Small, IASB assistant general counsel.
Question: Public Act 96-431 amended the school code [105 ILCS 5/10-22.39 (e)], and now requires the board to "provide, at a minimum, once every two years, the in-service training of all district staff on educator ethics, teacher-student conduct, and school employee-student conduct." How does a board provide this new required in-service?
Answer: It would be hard for the school board itself to provide this in-service, so it should consider the best practice of delegating this new duty to the superintendent through its written policies. The following list suggests best practices for a board that wants to delegate its duty to provide this in-service to the superintendent and align itself with IASB's Foundational Principles of Effective Governance (
- Align the new in-service with the ends articulated by the board in its written policies. Do this by finding and discussing with the superintendent all current board policies, collective bargaining agreements and administrative procedures (this could also include employee and student handbooks) related to developing and providing the in-service. The September 2009 issue of IASB's PRESS listed these policies and procedures for discussion: 5:100, Staff Development Program, 5:120, Ethics, 5:120-AP2, Administrative Procedure — Employee Conduct Standards, 4:100 Transportation. Some boards may find more than these. (Principle 1)
- Discuss with the superintendent all of the board's expectations for district staff to keep boundaries and act appropriately, professionally and ethically with students. The in-service will likely be more helpful when it reflects a community's local conditions and circumstances, so each board member should express his or her own opinion and respect others' opinions while remembering the importance of the board speaking with one clear voice on its expectations for the in-service. (Principle 6)
- Ask the board attorney to find any employee conduct issues that may be the subject of mandatory collective bargaining because of the board's expectations for the in-service. This will help the board avoid claims that it implemented new employee conduct rules without first offering to bargain them with the district's exclusive bargaining
- Amend all relevant policies to: (1) delegate the in-service duty to the superintendent, (2) define any new operating parameters for the in-service, and (3) communicate the board's expectations for district staff to keep boundaries and act appropriately, professionally and ethically with students. This should include direction for the superintendent to develop a curriculum for the in-service that instructs all district staff with the board's outlined expectations. Some of this language may be in board polices, especially if the board modeled its policies after the sample policies from IASB's PRESS. (Principle 4)
- Inform the community about the board's policies for district staff to keep boundaries and act appropriately, professionally and ethically with students. Depending on local circumstances, some boards may also see it appropriate for administrators to provide information and training to students and parents for the purpose of minimizing inappropriate behavior and/or relationships with district staff. (Principle 2)
- Monitor whether the superintendent has done the board's delegated duty as the board instructed, and whether the in-service reflects the board's policy and expectations for district staff to keep boundaries and act appropriately, professionally and ethically with students. (Principle 5)
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