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Last Revised: 10 October 2014
Refer Questions to: Vice President, Clerc Center
This policy applies to employees of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center (Clerc Center) at Gallaudet University, and to other employees and individuals (including, but not necessarily limited to, volunteers, interns, practicum students and University students) who may come in contact with students of the Clerc Center.
The Clerc Center and its demonstration elementary and secondary schools provide students with a positive and nurturing environment where their welfare and self-esteem are constantly fostered. The legal and human rights of students must be respected at all times, both on and off campus. All those involved with Clerc Center students are expected to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct in their relationships with them, regardless of the student's age. Any act of misconduct, neglect, exploitation, or inappropriate fraternization will not be tolerated.Anyone who violates this policy is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.Anyone who observes or suspects an act of misconduct, neglect, exploitation, or inappropriate fraternization is expected to intervene and provide for the safety and well-being of the student. All witnessed or suspected acts of misconduct, neglect, exploitation, or inappropriate fraternization should be reported immediately to the Principals of the Demonstration Schools (Clerc Center), or his/her designee or to the Department of Public Safety. All reports will be promptly investigated and, when appropriate, submitted to legal authorities.This policy is not intended to discourage appropriate and professional interaction with students. It is not intended to abridge the rights of parents or legal guardians who may also be employees of the Clerc Center. Its purpose is to assure the safety and well-being of Clerc Center students. The guidelines and definitions in this policy may not be all inclusive. The University will, at all times, take whatever action is necessary to fulfill the intent of the policy and to comply with applicable laws and regulations.
Misconduct: Inflicting or attempting to inflict physical pain or injury, causing or attempting to cause serious emotional distress, contributing to the delinquency of students, attempting to coerce or encourage a student to follow the employee's (or other individual's) personal or professional convictions, or engaging in sexual activity or conduct or in an amorous relationship with a student. Examples of misconduct include, but are not limited to:
Misconduct does not include actions which are an approved part of a treatment program or behavior management program, reasonable acts to gain a student's attention, reasonable demonstrations of caring or greeting (such as hugging a student), reasonable acts of restraint or force if the student poses a threat to himself/herself or to others, or unavoidable or unintended accidents.
NEGLECT:The failure to provide, or the careless disregard for, the care and services necessary to maintain the mental health, physical health and well-being of students. This particularly refers to any situation in which those individuals involved in the provision of services to Clerc Center students fail to fulfill their responsibilities or fail to act in a situation which adversely affects the health, safety, or welfare of students. Examples of neglect include, but are not limited to:
Neglect does not include reasonable inattention to students while a teacher or staff member is in the process of intervening with another student.
Exploitation: The improper or illegal use of a student and/or his/her resources for profit, pleasure, or advantage. Examples of exploitation include, but are not limited to:
Exploitation does not include receiving a non-monetary gift of nominal value from a student.
Gallaudet University and the Clerc Center recognizes the very positive benefits to be gained from student interaction with the adult role models who work in the demonstration schools and on campus. These interactions are encouraged and supported when they are kept at a professional level and promote healthy social, emotional, and intellectual development. The Clerc Center is committed to fostering a positive learning and working environment for all students and employees in order to promote educational excellence. The spirit and intent of this policy is meant to help employees understand and appreciate the delicate balance that exists between employees and students and to delineate the boundaries that their respective roles dictate.
The relationship between a Clerc Center employee and a student enrolled in the demonstration schools should be one of cooperation and respect. Employees have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a professional manner that will maintain an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and the safety and well-being of students.
All employees must be aware that students of all ages and intellect are susceptible to influence by adults employed by the Clerc Center. While this influence most often yields positive educational results, it can also be used in a manner that is entirely inappropriate. Accordingly, staff must be cognizant of their appropriate roles and professional duties in the development of students. Similarly, employees must be cognizant of the imbalance of power that exists in relationships between employees and students. Due to this imbalance of power, students are vulnerable and cannot always make proper decisions with regard to interactions with employees. Thus, it is the Clerc Center's expectation that employees will recognize and respect this vulnerability when interacting with students. Accordingly, it is the responsibility of employees not to take advantage of, or otherwise exploit, this imbalance of power to further any non-educational, personal, or inappropriate objective.
Clerc Center employees are strictly prohibited from engaging in any romantic, sexual, or physical relationship with students. Clerc Center employees are prohibited from entering any type of sexual relationship, sexual contact, or sexually-nuanced behavior with an enrolled student regardless of the student's age. This includes internet chat rooms, social media sites, cell phones, and all other forms of electronic or other types of communication. This prohibition applies to students of the same or opposite sex of the school employee. It also applies regardless of whether the student or the school employee initiated the sexual behavior, and whether or not the student welcomes the sexual behavior and/or reciprocates the attention.
To maintain appropriate professional boundaries:
Employees are responsible for appropriate and professional conduct in all settings and in all forms of communication, including, but not limited to, verbal/signed communication, written communications, internet and e-mail communications, physical gestures, motions or any other form of interaction.
Personal relationships with students that are not related to legitimate educational purposes may also violate this policy depending upon the circumstances. However, it is understood that many interactions between employees and students outside of work hours are entirely appropriate and develop through mutual interest, family, or neighborhood interactions. These relationships should maintain the essential and appropriate professional boundaries and will therefore not be deemed a violation of this policy.
Regardless of the student's advances, gestures or comments, it is the employee's responsibility to terminate any relationship that would otherwise violate this policy and report it immediately to the principal and immediate supervisor. As such, it is the employee's responsibility to ensure that such relationships continue along and within the appropriate boundaries. Failure to adhere to the requirements of this policy may result in severe consequences, up to and including termination.
Any question by an employee as to the appropriateness of an activity, relationship, or interaction with a student should be directed to the principal or designee. All inquiries into the appropriateness of an activity or relationship will be confidential to the fullest extent possible. All employees that suspect an inappropriate relationship exists between a Clerc Center employee and a student are required to immediately notify, in person or in writing, the principal or designee. Submission of a good faith report of a suspected violation of this policy will not adversely affect the reporting individual's employment.
REPORTING AND CONFIDENTIALITY
Any knowledge of misconduct, neglect, exploitation, or inappropriate fraternization involving a Clerc Center student must be reported, regardless if the student asserts that the information is confidential.Any report of misconduct, neglect, exploitation, harassment, or inappropriate fraternization is promptly investigated. Incidents involving a University employee or student are reported to the appropriate administrative officer for investigation. The purpose of any investigation is to establish whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that an alleged violation of this policy has occurred. At all times, the administrator conducting the investigation will take steps to provide for confidentiality. Employees and other individuals are expected to keep matters under investigation confidential.Gallaudet University and the Clerc Center will report incidents of misconduct, neglect, exploitation, harassment or inappropriate fraternization to the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) and legal authorities as appropriate.
FORMAL DISCIPLINARY ACTION
Formal disciplinary action may range from a reprimand to termination of employment or assignment. A Clerc Center employee may be placed on administrative leave, suspended, or transferred while a case is being reviewed. Decisions regarding administrative leave, suspension, transfer or dismissal will take into consideration the nature of the appointment, the severity of the offense, any pattern or history of similar incidents, the possible duration of the investigation, and other factors.Any individual found to have been intentionally dishonest in making allegations or in filing a false report is subject to disciplinary action.Violations of this policy and any appeals will be governed, in part, by the Clerc Center teacher policies. Violations of this policy and any appeals by University faculty members will be governed by University faculty guidelines and by-laws. Violations of this policy and any appeals by staff employees will be governed by policies and procedures in the Administration and Operations Manual. Violations of this policy by a University student will be governed by student judicial procedures.
Approved by: Gallaudet University Board of Trustees
Gallaudet University is a federally chartered private and premier university for the deaf and hard of hearing since 1864.
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