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Sexual Misconduct a Topic of Discussion for Student Teachers - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Sexual Misconduct a Topic of Discussion for Student Teachers

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Teachers around the area are very much aware of a legal battle facing a teacher over an alleged inappropriate act.

The Bismarck middle school teacher has been charged with having sex with a 15-year-old student. Susan Duursma is facing three counts of corrupting or soliciting a minor. If convicted, she could face up to 15 years in prison.

Valley News Team's Hope Hanselman spoke with instructors around the valley preparing teachers to enter the classroom and avoid any troublesome situations.

"I have three children of my own, and share concerns that parents have out in the community. You know, wanting to make sure that their teachers have their students' best interest at heart," Stacy Duffield, Associate Professor with the NDSU school of teaching, said. When it comes to putting our children in the right hands, Duffield makes it her priority. "We have the very same interest for our teacher candidates that are going to be future teachers," she said.

The scores of students who pass through this teaching program learn strict guidelines: no texting, no Facebooking, no giving out your personal number to students.

"We really encourage our students to set some pretty strong boundaries," Duffield said.

The policy is part of a constant effort to avoid crossing the line.

"When things pop up in the news, around the nation, around the state, it's a great thing to bring up to students to show them that, in real life, these sorts of things are appropriate or inappropriate," Duffield said.

"And, it's also a way to start to practice applying our code of ethics," Dr. Layna Cole, an Associate Professor of the MSUM school of teaching, added.

The same practice goes for MSUM students getting into early childhood education.

"It gives real life situation for my students to start to thing about. 'If my primary responsibility is to the best interest of children, but I see a colleague... What is my role and what is my obligation to ensure the best interest of that child?'" Cole said.

The discussions are part of the curriculum used to make sure the right lessons are handed down from the instructors who raise teachers to raise students.

"How are we going to change the world? We're going to change the world by doing the right things with kids. That's the answer; and I truly believe in that," Cole said.

Every student passing through the NDSU teaching program signs a code of ethics which clearly prohibits students from "engaging in physical abuse of a student or sexual conduct with a student."

Duursma was a graduate of the NDSU teaching program.

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