REConnections Education Center & the Ethics in Education Act
As a school that participates in Florida Department of Education School Choice Scholarship program, including the McKay and Gardiner (PLSA) Scholarship Programs, and pursuant to the requirements set forth in the 2008 Ethics in Education Act, please be advised that REConnections Education Center operates under the following guidelines and laws.
Ethics in Education Act
Senate Bill 1712 (Chapter Law 2008-108), the Ethics in Education Act, became effective July 1, 2008, and impacts certain operational procedures for private schools participating in the McKay and Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Programs.
The Act amends Section 1002.421, Florida Statutes, related to participating private school accountability, by adding new requirements to the employee screening process. All instructional personnel and school administrators in a position that requires direct contact with students are subject to the new screening standards. The private school accountability statute has also been amended to require private schools to develop standards of ethical conduct for the school’s instructional personnel and administrators. Instructional personnel and school administrators are defined by Sections 1012.01(2) and (3), Florida Statutes.
Finally, the Act amends Section 1006.061, Florida Statutes, related to the state’s child abuse, abandonment, and neglect policy. Private and charter schools are now required to comply with these policies. An explanation of the new requirements, instructions for implementation, and links to additional resources have been provided for your convenience.
Standards of Ethical Conduct
- Our school values the worth and dignity of every person, the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, acquisition of knowledge, and the nurture of democratic citizenship. Essential to the achievement of these standards are the freedom to learn and to teach and the guarantee of equal opportunity for all.
- Our primary concern is the student and the development of the student’s potential. Employees will therefore strive for professional growth and will seek to exercise the best professional judgment and integrity.
- Concern for the student requires that our instructional personnel:
- Shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning and/or to the student’s mental and/or physical health and/or safety.
- Shall not unreasonably restrain a student from independent action in pursuit of learning.
- Shall not unreasonably deny a student access to diverse points of view.
- Shall not intentionally suppress or distort subject matter relevant to a student’s academic program.
- Shall not intentionally expose a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.
- Shall not intentionally violate or deny a student’s legal rights.
- Shall not harass or discriminate against any student on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, marital status, handicapping condition, sexual orientation, or social and family background and shall make reasonable effort to assure that each student is protected from harassment or discrimination.
- Shall not exploit a relationship with a student for personal gain or advantage.
- Shall keep in confidence personally identifiable information obtained in the course of professional service, unless disclosure serves professional purposes or is required by law.
- Aware of the importance of maintaining the respect and confidence of colleagues, of students, of parents, and of the community, employees of our school must display the highest degree of ethical conduct. This commitment requires that our employees:
- Shall maintain honesty in all professional dealings.
- Shall not on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, marital status, handicapping condition if otherwise qualified, or social and family background deny to a colleague professional benefits or advantages or participation in any professional organization.
- Shall not interfere with a colleague’s exercise of political or civil rights and responsibilities. d. Shall not engage in harassment or discriminatory conduct which unreasonably interferes with an individual’s performance of professional or work responsibilities or with the orderly processes of education or which creates a hostile, intimidating, abusive, offensive, or oppressive environment; and, further, shall make reasonable effort to assure that each individual is protected from such harassment or discrimination.
- Shall not make malicious or intentionally false statements about a colleague.
REC's Training Requirement
All instructional personnel and administrators are required as a condition of employment to complete training on these standards of ethical conduct.
REC’s Employment Screening Process
REConnections Education Center disqualifies from employment any instructional personnel or school administrator who is convicted of an act listed under Section 1012.315, Florida Statutes.
REConnections Education Center conducts an employment history check before employing instructional personnel or school administrators in any position that requires direct contact with students.
REConnections Education Center screens new instructional personnel or school administrators using the two employee screening tools developed by the Department of Education. New instructional personnel or school administrators are those individuals employed after the law became effective on July 1, 2008.
All REConnections Education Center administrators, teachers, and staff members have been fully screened and background checked pursuant to state law.
Child Abuse Reporting and Employee Misconduct
REConnections Education Center prohibits confidentiality agreements with instructional personnel or school administrators who are dismissed, terminated, or resign in lieu of termination due to misconduct that affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student.
All employees and administrators have an obligation to report misconduct by instructional personnel and school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student. Examples of misconduct include obscene language, drug and alcohol use, disparaging comments, prejudice or bigotry, sexual innuendo, cheating or testing violations, physical aggression, and accepting or offering favors. Reports of misconduct of employees should be made to Dr. Joleen Fernald. Reports of misconduct committed by administrators should be made to the Board of Directors.
Legally sufficient allegations of misconduct by Florida certified educators will be reported to the Office of Professional Practices Services. Policies and procedures for reporting misconduct by instructional personnel or school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student are posted in the employee handbook and on this website below.
All REConnections Education Center employees have been trained to recognize signs of child abuse, abandonment, and neglect, and have been advised as to their status as mandatory reporters.
- Signs of Physical Abuse The child may have unexplained bruises, welts, cuts, or other injuries; broken bones; or burns. A child experiencing physical abuse may seem withdrawn or depressed, seem afraid to go home or may run away, shy away from physical contact, be aggressive, or wear inappropriate clothing to hide injuries.
- Signs of Sexual Abuse The child may have torn, stained or bloody underwear, trouble walking or sitting, pain or itching in genital area, or a sexually transmitted disease. A child experiencing sexual abuse may have unusual knowledge of sex or act seductively, fear a particular person, seem withdrawn or depressed, gain or lose weight suddenly, shy away from physical contact, or run away from home.
- Signs of Neglect The child may have unattended medical needs, little or no supervision at home, poor hygiene, or appear underweight. A child experiencing neglect may be frequently tired or hungry, steal food, or appear overly needy for adult attention.
- Patterns of Abuse: Serious abuse usually involves a combination of factors. While a single sign may not be significant, a pattern of physical or behavioral signs is a serious indicator and should be reported.
All employees and staff at REConnections Education Center have a legal responsibility to report any misconduct by instructional staff or school administrators. Failure to do so may result in the termination of employment and the loss of the educator’s certificate.
Should misconduct, including physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect be suspected, the employee should report the case immediately to our Executive Director, Joleen Fernald, or call the abuse hotline at 1-800-96Abuse to report the incident.or report online at: http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/abuse/report/.
Liability Protections Any person, official, or institution participating in good faith in any act authorized or required by law, or reporting in good faith any instance of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect to the department or any law enforcement agency, shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise result by reason of such action. (F.S. 39.203)
An employer who discloses information about a former or current employee to a prospective employer of the former or current employee upon request of the prospective employer or of the former or current employee is immune from civil liability for such disclosure or its consequences unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the information disclosed by the former or current employer was knowingly false or violated any civil right of the former or current employee protected under F.S. Chapter 760. (F.S. 768.095)