As the Houston County School Board meets with teachers and their defense attorneys Monday, the board members will be making an important determination for its expectations for teacher behavior in the future.
In its policy manual, the Houston County Board of Education prohibits system employees from engaging in “personal pursuits that would affect their efficiency or usefulness as employees in the system; that would make time and/or energy demands upon such individuals which would interfere with their effectiveness in performing their contractual obligations to the board; that would compromise or embarrass the school system; that would adversely affect their Houston County School System employment status or professional standing; or that would in any way conflict with or violate professional ethics or the state ethics.”
The policy does not state, however, the punishment for committing such a conflict of interest.
With the evidence before them, the community seems to agree, loudly, that the teachers have committed an egregious failure of judgment. Their misstep results in a breach of trust between the teachers and their students and could impact their job responsibilities.
The community is keeping a watchful eye on the outcome of the hearings as the board, with the advice from its attorney, Kevin Walding, must make the final judgment on whether the policy was violated and determine to what extent.
If the teachers are found guilty, it’s responsible for sentencing — something that could set a precedent for how conflicts of interest are handled when stakeholders are watching.