BCSC considers policy updates on student-staff interaction, staff dress codes

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. is considering a number of policy updates, including some that concern student-staff relations, banning sex offenders from school grounds and student and staff dress codes.

The potential updates were discussed at Monday’s school board meeting but will not be voted on until February or March,  Superintendent Jim Roberts said.

The school corporation has a contract with the education consulting firm Neola that helps them update policies based on changes in state and federal legislation, as well as changes in case law.

The current set of recommended policy revisions includes new policies on Staff-Student Relations.

“Because of some case law situations, it was suggested that there are a few other things that we might wish to add that would lead to discipline of a staff member beyond just criminal conduct,” said Roberts.

The policies are intended to “specifically address staff-student relations that may constitute criminal conduct, child abuse or neglect, inappropriate boundary invasions (optional) or other conduct unbecoming a professional staff member.”

In discussing the policy, board member and former BCSC teacher Dale Nowlin expressed some concern about where the line is drawn, as an act such as hugging a student could be either appropriate or inappropriate depending on the context.

Roberts agreed that it’s a complex subject and said that BCSC has a variety of options to choose from in regards to this policy, such as one section about whether or not a teacher should be providing the same level of guidance as a counselor.

“That’s kind of walking a fine line,” he said. “We certainly want that student relationship with teachers, we want that trusted adult, so how do we word that appropriately to maintain proper boundaries but also have that trust and respect between staff and students that we’re asking for?”

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.