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Policy 7030 - Employee Conduct and Discipline

The purpose of this policy is to articulate expectations for employee conduct and establish standards to achieve the Board’s goal of providing a safe and nurturing environment within the HCPSS. The policy also establishes employee discipline procedures to guide responses in cases of alleged misconduct.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education believes that all employees will conduct themselves in accordance with standards of behavior that reflect the educational and human relations philosophies of the Howard County Public School System(HCPSS). The Board values the important role that exemplary employee conduct and quality performance provide to the achievement of a safe, inclusive, and nurturing environment.

All employees are expected to perform their duties and responsibilities in a professional manner. In the event that an employee fails to meet expectations in the performance of duties or of professional conduct, uniform and consistent application of disciplinary action will be applied.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to articulate expectations for employee conduct and establish standards to achieve the Board’s goal of providing a safe, inclusive, and nurturing environment within the HCPSS. The policy also establishes employee discipline procedures to guide responses in cases of alleged misconduct.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Administrative Leave With Pay – An assigned status that relieves an employee of specified responsibilities but allows them to keep their regular compensation package. Administrative leave is not a disciplinary action.

  2. Dismissal – Discharge fromemployment.

  3. Due Process – A procedure by which an employee suspected of wrong-doing is given notice of the allegations, an explanation of the evidence, and an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

  4. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – A referral and treatment program designed to identify employee needs and provide subsequent referral recommendations and services as needed in the areas including, but not limited to, drug and substance abuse, alcoholism, and family or financial problems. Referral to EAP is not a disciplinary action.

  5. Fitness for Duty Evaluation – An evaluation of an employee’s emotional,mental, or physical health status to determine whether they are able to safely perform their job duties. A Fitness for Duty Evaluation is not a disciplinary action.

  6. Immorality – An act or course of conduct or behavior that conflicts with generally held moral principles of the community and is not in keeping with the standards expected of individuals who are employed by the HCPSS.

  7. Incompetence – Lacking in knowledge, skills, ability, or failing to adequately perform the duties and responsibilitiesof an assigned position.

  8. Insubordination – Failure to follow a valid directive froma person in a position of authority.

  9. Letter of Reprimand – A written statement notifying an employee that there has been a serious or repeated violation of expected conduct or performance and which willbe made a part of the employee’s personnel file.

  10. Misconduct in Office – Any wrongdoing by an employee in relation to the duties and responsibilities of his/her assigned position.

  11. Oral Warning – A statement spoken to an employee indicating that his/her conduct or performance fails to meet an acceptable level.

  12. Progressive Discipline – A discipline systemthat uses a graduated range of responses to employee misconduct and permits an administrator to tailor discipline to the particular circumstances of a case.

  13. Suspension – The temporary removal for disciplinary reasons, without pay, of an employee from his/her assignment.

  14. Willful Neglect of Duty – Failure to knowingly follow a requirement of public school law, Board policies, and HCPSS procedures, school system directives, or job duties and responsibilities.

  15. Written Warning – A written statement to an employee which indicates that conduct or performance fails to meet an acceptable level andwhich will be made a part of the employee’s personnel file.

IV. Standards

  1. Employees will perform theirduties and responsibilities in a satisfactory manner and will exhibit the professional conduct necessary tomeet these expectations.

  2. Employees will exhibit professional conduct andwill model responsible citizenship during work hours as well as during off-duty hours.

  3. Employees will use the internet, email, and other electronic communication in an appropriate manner at all times.

  4. The Board recognizes that any disciplinary action needed will conformto the standards established for employees by law, regulation, policy, and duties and responsibility of the HCPSS. Appropriate disciplinary action for all employees may include suspension or dismissal of the employee.

  5. The Board recognizes the following as reasons that might warrant imposition of disciplinary action. This list is not all inclusive.

    1. Immorality

      1. Immodest, lewd, obscene conduct or language that renders the employee unfit for the performance of his/her duties

      2. Inducing students or others to participate in, or commit an act or acts, which are immodest, indecent, or obscene

      3. Conduct contributing to the delinquency of a minor

      4. Child abuse or neglect

      5. Criminal conduct

      6. Violent behavior

      7. Conduct negatively affecting an employee’s fitness to perform their duties and responsibilities, including serving as a role model for students.

    2. Misconduct in office

      1. Knowingly failing to report suspected child abuse

      2. Sexual harassment (Policy 1020 - Sexual Discrimination)

      3. Intimidation of students, staff, or citizens at large, including use of racial slurs and/or other derogatory remarks

      4. Bullying, cyberbullying, or harassment of students, staff, or citizens at large (Policy 1060 - Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment, or Intimidation)

      5. Theft and misuse or negligent treatment of Board property

      6. Disclosing confidential information to unauthorized persons

      7. Inappropriate relationships with students or parents, such as romantic, emotional, and sexual grooming or interactions

      8. Dating and/or having a sexual relationship with a student

      9. Inappropriate/unprofessional conduct toward or relations with other persons

      10. Abuse of alcohol and other controlled dangerous substances and possession and use of illegal drugs and controlled dangerous substances (Policy 7040 - Alcohol and Noncontrolled Substance Abuse by Employees and Policy 7050 - Drug Use by Employees: Illegal Drugs, Drug Paraphernalia and Controlled Substances)

      11. Falsifying of any school record, report, or school system document

      12. Financial irregularities (e.g., fraud, embezzlement, bribery, kickbacks, forgery, etc.)

      13. Violation of ethics standards and/or regulations (Policy 2070 - Ethics)

      14. Disorderly conduct on school property or while on duty to include fighting, threatening, and/or attempting to inflict bodily harm on another person

      15. Possession of firearms or other weapons on Board of Education property

      16. Inappropriate use of email, internet, or other electronic communication

      17. Violation of student data governance and privacy standards (Policy 3060 - Student Data Governance and Privacy).

    3. Insubordination

      1. Failure to performall work and duties assigned by a supervisor/administrator in charge

      2. Failure to follow the written or verbal instruction of a supervisor/administrator.

    4. Incompetence

      1. Failing to complete work assignments

      2. Performing work assignments in an inappropriate or unsatisfactory manner.

    5. Willful neglect of duty

      1. Unexcused absences

      2. Excessive tardiness

      3. Unauthorized absence or misuse of leave

      4. Failure to follow specified courses of study adopted by the Board of Education

      5. Failure to follow policies adopted by the Board of Education and HCPSS implementation procedures.

  6. Because administrators and supervisors do not hold tenure in their positions, they may be reassigned to positions, including positions of lower rank and pay, without cause.

  7. An employee may be subject to disciplinary action for conduct that violates this policy regardless of whether the conduct occurred outside of work or whether it resulted in criminal prosecution or conviction.

  8. If an employee fails to conform to this policy, administrators and supervisors will take appropriate action to resolve the situation.

  9. Any employee will receive due process before the imposition of any discipline.

  10. Progressive discipline used in the HCPSS encompasses the following kinds of disciplinary action, any of which are available and will be used in accordance with the circumstances of the situation. The specific actions taken will be based on the circumstances involved in the case.

    1. Oral Warning

    2. Written Warning

    3. Letter of Reprimand

    4. Suspension

    5. Dismissal.

  11. Supervisors and administrators may require an employee to undergo an evaluation for Fitness for Duty or be referred to the Employee Assistance Program(EAP) by the Superintendent/Designee to ensure that the employee is able to discharge their duties without harm to themselves or others.

    A Fitness for Duty Evaluation or an EAP referral is not disciplinary action.

  12. The Superintendent/Designee may place an employee on administrative leave with pay when it is determined to be in the best interest of the HCPSS.

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/Designee will investigate alleged violations of this policy and take appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with this policy.

  2. Supervisors and administrators will take appropriate disciplinary action inaccordance with this policy.

  3. The Office of Human Resources will ensure that all newly hired employees receive notification of this policy.

  4. The Superintendent/Designee will ensure that all employees are made aware of policy. Policy updates will be posted on theHCPSS website.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop appropriate procedures to implement this policy.

VIII. History

ADOPTED: March 14, 1996

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED: September 6, 2018

REVISED: June 10, 2010

EFFECTIVE: September 6, 2018