COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — The Colonial Heights school board has moved to adopt new policies in the wake of a scandal involving the city’s ex-police chief and his alleged inappropriate conduct towards the female students he coached.
Two new policies would overhaul rules on social media use by school staff and introduce new guidelines on “maintaining appropriate boundaries between school staff and students.”
“If you think it might be inappropriate it probably is,” said Board Chair Steven Neece. “Avoid the appearance of impropriety or doing anything you feel might be improper.”
The new policy clarifies that maintaining a “flirtatious, romantic, or sexual relationship with a student” is expressly forbidden and that having personal communications with students outside of school without the knowledge of administrators or parents is inappropriate.
Ex-police chief Jeff Faries, who was a girls softball coach at a local school, was accused last year of inappropriately touching students as well as sending unacceptable messages to them over social media and texts.
Board member Lia Tremblay did raise concerns over one provision of the guidelines, which bar teachers and staff from “disclosing personal, sexual, family, employment concerns or other private matters.”
“I wonder if that could be more specific?” she asked. “It seems to me there are family matters that would organically and appropriately come up in conversation. I mean for instance, I got married over the Summer and I’m expecting a baby in October.”
The revised social media guidelines, meanwhile, focused on updating outdated provisions — including one that mentions MySpace, a social network that saw its heyday in the 2000’s.
The update also shed a guideline that explicitly forbid school employees from criticizing the school division online.
You can read the proposed policy changes, which will need to be approved at the board’s next meeting, online.