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Disruptive Behavior Policy

(Adopted by the Board of TPUUF on April 2, 2008; Revised December 8, 2015)

Preamble

While openness to a wide variety of individuals is one of the prime values held by our congregation and is expressed in our denomination’s purposes and principles in accordance with the UUA, we affirm the belief that our congregation must maintain a secure atmosphere where such openness can exist. To that end, we have already established a Covenant of Good Relations which is in use within the Fellowship.  However, when any person’s physical, spiritual and/or emotional well-being or freedom to safely express his or her beliefs is threatened, the source of this threat must be addressed firmly and promptly, even if this ultimately requires the expulsion of the offending person or persons.

Defining Disruptive Behavior

Any actions that create concern for the physical, spiritual and/or emotional safety of our congregation, both children and adults is considered disruptive behavior.  This behavior may happen within the Fellowship building, at Fellowship sponsored events or electronically through the use of e-mail.  The disruptive behaviors include:

  • Real or perceived threats to the safety of any adult or child; or
  • The disruption of Fellowship activities.
 Summary

Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship strives to be an inclusive community, affirming differences in beliefs, opinions, and life experiences. However, concern for the safety and well-being of the congregation as a whole must be given priority over the privileges and inclusion of the individual. To the degree that the disruption compromises the health of this congregation, our actions as a people of faith must reflect this emphasis on safety and security.

Policy

The following shall be the policy of TPUUF in dealing with these issues:

  • When an event occurs, if an immediate response is required, this will be undertaken by the Minister, if available, and/or the leader of the group involved. The Committee on Ministry may also be asked to help. Actions may include asking the offending person or persons to leave, or suspending the meeting or activity until such a time as it can safely be resumed. If further assistance is required, the Police Department may be called. At that point, the Police become the primary authority in the matter. In all cases, both the Minister and the CoM must be notified. If the COM determines that a follow-up letter is needed, the COM will notify the board. The board will send a letter to the offending party detailing what steps must be taken under this policy before returning to fellowship activities. This letter will also inform the offending party what steps will follow if the behavior continues.
  • If disruptive behavior or complaints of potential danger occur and an immediate response is not required, the situation will be referred to the CoM. The CoM will use its best judgment and follow these guidelines:
    • Problems will be addressed as they arise. There will be no attempt to define unacceptable behavior in advance. Each situation will be evaluated on its own merits.
    • Persons identified as disruptive will be dealt with as individuals: stereotypes will be avoided.
    • The CoM will collect as much relevant information as possible before acting. At least two members of the CoM will jointly contact the person whose behavior is in question in order to provide an opportunity to get his/her point of view about the situation.
    • Evaluation of the situation will include consideration of:
      • DANGER- Is the individual the source of a threat or perceived threat to persons or property?
      • DISRUPTION- How much interference with Fellowship functions is going on?
      • OFFENSIVENESS- How likely is it that prospective or existing members will be driven away?
    • To determine the necessary response, the following points will be considered:
      • CAUSES- Why is the disruption occurring? Is it a conflict between the individual and others in the church? Is it due to a professionally diagnosed condition of mental illness?
      • HISTORY- What was the frequency and degree of disruption in the past?
      • PROBABILITY OF CHANGE- How likely is it that the problem behavior will diminish or cease in the future?
    • The CoM will decide upon the necessary response on a case-by-case basis. However, the following three levels of response are recommended:
      • LEVEL ONE- The CoM shall inform the Minister of the problem. Thereafter, at least two members of the committee shall in good faith attempt to meet with the offending individual to communicate the concern. The Minister may be present at this meeting. At this meeting, the offending party will be informed of the possibility of exclusion from the Fellowship should offensive behavior continue.LEVEL TWO- The offending individual is excluded from the Fellowship and/or specific Fellowship activities for a limited period of time, with reasons and the conditions of return made clear in a letter from the CoM.

        LEVEL THREE- The offending individual is permanently excluded from the Fellowship premises and all Fellowship activities. Before this is carried out, the CoM will consult with the Board and the Minister. If it is decided that the expulsion will take place, the Board will send a letter to the offending party/parties explaining the expulsion as well as the individual’s rights and possible recourse.

        Any action taken under the above item may be appealed to the Executive Committee of the Board within 30 days of the date on the letter.

        Whenever a disruptive incident occurs, a written, confidential record will be kept by the CoM in confidential files to be accessed only when other issues arise regarding the same individual. The files will be updated as needed.