Child Protection Policy
All members of the Austin International School community play an important part in working toward our vision of building “a community fostering respect, leadership, and empathy through interculturalism and the joy of learning.” The safety, security, and wellbeing of every individual who is on campus is paramount to the health and success of our school and each individual who work, learns, and plays here. In particular, the protection of students is at the heart of this and all adult members of the community play an essential role in ensuring this. This policy outlines key elements that underpin our child protection measures and are non-negotiable in their application.
Austin International School requires that all members who work or regularly volunteer at our school undergo background checks to see if a person has a criminal history or abuse and neglect history that might be a risk to the health and safety of children. The types of checks that we may use include – but are not limited to – the following:
- Texas Do Not Hire Registry
- Texas Criminal History check
- National Criminal History check
- Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (TLETS) check
- Central Registry check
- DFPS History check
- Out-of-State Abuse/Neglect History check
- Out-of-State Criminal History check
Depending on the type of role the individual holds in the school (teacher, staff, volunteer, etc.), we may require additional fingerprint checks. No individual will be allowed to work and/or volunteer on campus without having first completed these checks.
Student Guidance and Discipline
Austin International School adheres to minimum standards for child care as established by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Some of these standards include – but are not limited to – the following:
- §744.1201. All employees, including persons not counted in the child/caregiver ratio, must:
- Demonstrate competency, good judgment, and self-control in the presence of children and when performing assigned responsibilities;
- Relate to children with courtesy, respect, acceptance, and patience;
- Recognize and respect the uniqueness and potential of all children, their families, and their cultures;
- Ensure that no child is abused, neglected, or exploited while in the care of the operation; and
- Report suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation to DFPS or to law enforcement, as specified in the Texas Family Code §261.101.
- §744.2103. Methods of discipline and guidance
- Each disciplinary measure must:
- Be consistent with your policies and procedures;
- Not be physically or emotionally damaging to the child;
- Be appropriate to the child's age and level of understanding; and
- Be appropriate to the incident and severity of the behavior demonstrated.
- A caregiver may only use positive methods of discipline and guidance that encourages self-esteem, self-control, and self-direction, including the following:
- Using praise and encouragement of good behavior instead of focusing only upon unacceptable behavior;
- Reminding a child of behavior expectations daily by using clear, positive statements;
- Redirecting behavior using positive statements; and
- Using brief supervised separation or time out from the group, when appropriate for the child’s age and development, which is limited to no more than one minute per year of the child’s age.
- Each disciplinary measure must:
- §744.2105. There must be no harsh, cruel, or unusual treatment of any child. The following types of discipline and guidance are prohibited:
- Corporal punishment or threats of corporal punishment;
- Punishment associated with food, naps, or toilet training;
- Pinching, shaking, or biting a child;
- Hitting a child with a hand or instrument;
- Putting anything in or on a child’s mouth;
- Humiliating, ridiculing, rejecting, or yelling at a child;
- Subjecting a child to harsh, abusive, or profane language;
- Placing a child in a locked or dark room, bathroom, or closet; and
- Requiring a child to remain silent or inactive for inappropriately long periods of time for the child’s age.
Any staff member or volunteer found to be in violation of these rules will face immediate corrective action, including and up to a termination of relationship with Austin International School. Suspected or confirmed violations of these rules will be reported to the most appropriate state agency (i.e., Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Protective Services, and/or the Austin Police Department), depending on the nature of the incident.
Duty to Report
If any member of the Austin International School community suspects that any other member of community may be violating any of the above-listed policies, then he or she has a duty to report this to the Child Safety Committee. Reports may be made to the school in person, via email, or telephone (512 331 7806). Members of the Child Safety Committee include the Head of School, COO, and Principal. Not reporting known or suspected incidents is itself a violation of this policy and individuals not reporting known or suspected incidents may, themselves, face corrective action. If any person is concerned to report an incident directly to the school, then he or she may also phone the Texas Abuse Hotline toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nationwide, at 1-800-252-5400 or report online at https://www.txabusehotline.org and receive a response within 24-48 hours.
Child Protection Practices and Procedures
The following practices and procedures are in place to support the health, safety, and wellbeing of all children at Austin International School.
- Staff Recruitment. Austin International School requires that all staff members and volunteers not have any criminal or background matters that may impede their ability to work with children. For all new hires, a sworn and notarized affidavit must be kept of file to affirm, under penalty of perjury, that they do not have any past criminal behavior that may be of concern with regard to child protection matters. In certain instances, AIS may require copies of police clearance reports from jurisdictions outside of the United States of America.
- Staff Training. Regular staff training is conducted to ensure staff feel confident about all aspects of child protection, including awareness, types, signs/symptoms, prevention, policies and laws, reporting process, and resources available. To achieve this objective:
- New and returning staff receive annual child protection training on these aspects as part of the start-of-year in-service training. Documentation to support this training include the following appendices included with this policy: Terminology; Signs that Should Alert Educators; Additional Guidance for Teachers; Toilet and Intimate Care Guidelines.
- The Discipline and Guidance Policy is provided to all staff annually to give clear expectations and boundaries regarding child protection procedures. This document must be signed and kept on-file during employment. AIS may require individuals to re-sign this document at any time if there are concerns with regard to potential violations of policy.
- Facilities and Security. The following facilities and procedures are in place to ensure the security, respect, safety, and wellbeing of all children:
- Only individuals having passed all required background checks may meet one-on-one with students. All rooms into which students are permitted have a window in the door. Staff members must maintain line-of-sight with this door if and when meeting one-on-one with students.
- Students are not permitted on-campus before of after school operating hours.
- Regular safety drills are held, including fire, severe weather, and shelter-in-place. The procedures for these drills are reviewed annually and posted around campus and in the family handbook.
- Regular safety and security inspections are carried out at AIS by the following agencies: Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Health; Austin Fire Department; Austin Police Department.
- Contractors and Service Providers. No contractors, vendors and service providers operating on-site during school operating hours will be left with unsupervised access to students.
- Reporting of Incidents. In the event of an allegation against a staff member or volunteer, the matter will initially be reported to the most appropriate state agency (i.e., Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Protective Services, and/or the Austin Police Department) and an investigation coordinated by the Head of School will take place.
This policy incorporates the following appendices:
- Appendix 1: Terminology
- Appendix 2: Signs that Should Alert Educators
- Appendix 3: Additional Guidance for Teachers
- Appendix 4: Toilet and Intimate Care Guidelines