PPS board approves new employee conduct policy

Multnomah County

The policy is a response to a report on a former teacher accused of sexual harassment

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Employees at Portland Public Schools have new guidelines for interacting with students.

The guidelines outline what is considered appropriate and professional behavior and how to avoid “boundary violations.”

New rules include having separate social media accounts for personal and professional use and not giving students rides in personal vehicles. Teachers should also only hold one-on-one meetings with students in publicly visible places.

The district said one of the goals of the policy to ensure students build healthy relationships with adults.

Superintendent will need to implement annual staff training on the new policy, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Education on Tuesday.

“I hope this policy on the books will now make it possible for people to know what the guidelines are, know what to do if they see something questionable and that PPS will never again experience the shameful incidents that we had in the past,” board member Rita Moore said during the meeting.

This new policy is in response to a report that found the district failed to recognize and investigate a former teacher’s misconduct with students.

Mitchell Whitehurst was a gym teacher at Faubion who was accused of paying unwanted attention to female students since 1983.

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The report said Whitehurst’s “pattern of sexual conduct with students went mostly undetected. And when incidents were reported, the District gave Mr. Whitehurst the benefit of the doubt.”

Whitehurst plead guilty to physically harassing a fellow PPS employee in 2015 and was sentenced to 18 months probation.

The new conduct policy aims to address the failures noted in the report and prevent future misconduct.

Read the full policy

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