Warning at schools: Don't date students

September 10, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

In case it wasn't clear before, school employees in Carroll County will have it in black and white: Don't date students.

"Every employee in the school system needs to know that is simply not acceptable," said Superintendent R. Edward Shilling.

The Wednesday conviction of Ronald Walter Price, a Northeast High School teacher in Anne Arundel County, on child abuse charges for having sex with students, has prompted officials in Carroll and elsewhere in Maryland to make the law clear to their employees.

Because of the Price controversy, Mr. Shilling said, he wants to create a policy that summarizes the state law against such activities and adds that no dating is allowed even if it doesn't involve sex.

Carroll County schools have administrative procedures on how to follow the Maryland law that prohibits sex between teachers ++ and students and requires school staff members to report any suspected abuse.

"But it [the law] is not clear at all on dating," Mr. Shilling said.

To strengthen the message, the school board policy would cite the law on abuse and reporting. The policy would add, "Nor may personnel date . . . any student."

The policy came to the school board Wednesday as a report. The board will vote on it next month.

Edwin Davis, director of pupil services, also is preparing more detailed information that will define dating and what action would be taken when an employee was suspected of dating a student, Mr. Shilling said.

Last month, the school board approved a policy prohibiting sexual harassment by students. The board already has a policy against sexual harassment by staff members.

In Anne Arundel, the school board -- on orders from Nancy S. Grasmick, the state school superintendent -- hired a lawyer to investigate school officials' handling of abuse charges.

Similar charges are pending against two other teachers in unrelated cases.

Price admitted having sex with former students but testified at his trial that he did not think it was a crime to do so after school, when the students were not in his "temporary care and custody," the legal standard for proving child abuse charges.

A jury convicted him on seven counts of child abuse for having sex with three former students.

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