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 requirements, instructions for implementation, and links to additional resources have been provided for your convenience.
1. Participating private schools must disqualify from employment any instructional personnel or school administrator who is convicted of an act listed under Section 1012.315, Florida Statutes. [Level 2 VECHS fingerprinting (which includes FBI - national, and FDLE - state searches) is utilized to meet this standard.]
2. Participating private schools must conduct an employment history check before employing instructional personnel or school administrators in any position that requires direct contact with students.
3. Participating private schools must screen 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 Odessa Christian School administrators, teachers, and staff members have been fully screened and background checked pursuant to state law. In addition, as an added measure of safety and concern for our students, volunteers who are permitted to enter the campus during school hours are required to undergo the same FBI/FDLE (VECHS) background clearance as hired faculty and staff.
Child Abuse Reporting and Employee Misconduct
1. Participating private schools must prohibit 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.
2. Participating private schools must post a notice at the school stating that all employees have a duty to report actual or suspected cases of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
3. Participating private schools must post at the school site and on the school’s website (if applicable) the policies and procedures for reporting misconduct by instructional personnel or school administrators, which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student.
All OCS employees have been trained to recognize signs of child abuse, abandonment, and neglect, and have been advised as to their status as mandatory reporters. Please report any instance or suspected instance of employee misconduct to our Head of School or Director.