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Polk County Schools Create Anti-Harassment Policy

African-American woman speaks on a Zoom call with other school board members
Kerry Sheridan/WUSF
Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd talks during a Zoom session for board members to discuss a new anti-fraternization policy

Polk County Schools adopted an anti-fraternization policy this week for the first time, after two sexual harassment scandals in the last several years.

“It basically prohibits dating between a supervisor and someone who works directly for them,” said school board member Lisa Miller during the May 12 working group session.

“This is something that would be new. We currently have nothing,” said Polk County School Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd.

The board adopted the measure by a unanimous vote, while pledging to revisit the issue in the future to further clarify the policy.

“In order to promote a professional work environment that is free from harassment, hostility, and/or discrimination, administrators shall refrain from dating or engaging in a consensual sexual relationship with employees whose work they direct,” said the new language in the policy manual.

In 2016, Superintendent of Schools Kathryn LeRoy resigned after Associate Superintendent of Operations Greg Rivers accused her of sexual harassment, unprofessional conduct and mismanagement. Rivers also resigned.

Tenoroc High School Principal Jason Looney was investigated in 2017 after he was accused of making sexual comments to an assistant principal.

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.
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