Who We Are

Easter Seals Southwest Florida has been part of our community for 70 years. We offer the highest quality of care and services to children, youth and adults with special needs so that they can enjoy access, opportunities and increased life choices. Easter Seals Southwest Florida is committed to remaining a leader in special needs services – an organization to which individuals and their families can turn to for resources and support with a continuum of care throughout their lives.

Our History

Easter Seals Southwest Florida began in 1946 as the Sarasota-Manatee Crippled Children’s Clinic, and was renamed Happiness House later that year. From borrowed space in an empty WWII army barracks, the organization served local children impacted by the polio epidemic then sweeping the country, providing medical rehabilitation and education, patient therapy and counseling, and support services for persons with disabilities… Read More…

Code of Conduct

(adapted from the Code of Ethics of the Education Profession in Florida and Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida)

1. Easter Seals SWFL values the worth and dignity of every person, the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, acquisition of knowledge, and the nurture of democratic citizenship. Essential to the achievement of these standards are the freedom to learn and to teach and the guarantee of equal opportunity for all.

2. Our primary concern is the student and the development of the student’s potential.
Employees will therefore strive for professional growth and will seek to exercise the best professional judgment and integrity.

3. Concern for the student requires that our instructional personnel:

a. Shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning and/or to the student’s mental and/or physical health and/or safety.

b. Shall not unreasonably restrain a student from independent action in pursuit of learning.

c. Shall not unreasonably deny a student access to diverse points of view.

d. Shall not intentionally suppress or distort subject matter relevant to a student’s academic program.

e. Shall not intentionally expose a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.

f. Shall not intentionally violate or deny a student’s legal rights.

g. Shall not harass or discriminate against any student on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, marital status, handicapping condition, sexual orientation, or social and family background and shall make reasonable effort to assure that each student is protected from harassment or discrimination.

h. Shall not exploit a relationship with a student for personal gain or advantage.

i. Shall keep in confidence personally identifiable information obtained in the course of professional service, unless disclosure serves professional purposes or is required by law.

4. Aware of the importance of maintaining the respect and confidence of colleagues, of students, of parents, and of the community, employees of our school must display the highest degree of ethical conduct. This commitment requires that our employees:

a. Shall maintain honesty in all professional dealings.

b. Shall not on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, marital status, handicapping condition, or social and family background deny to a colleague professional benefits or advantages or participation in any professional organization.

c. Shall not interfere with a colleague’s exercise of political or civil rights and responsibilities.

d. Shall not engage in harassment or discriminatory conduct which unreasonably interferes with an individual’s performance of professional or work responsibilities or with the orderly processes of education or which creates a hostile, intimidating, abusive, offensive, or oppressive environment; and, further, shall make reasonable effort to assure that each individual is protected from such harassment or discrimination. e. Shall not make malicious or intentionally false statements about a colleague.

5. Easter Seals SWFL disqualifies from employment any instructional personnel or school administrator who is convicted of an act listed under s.1012.315, F.S.

6. Easter Seals SWFL conducts an employment history check before employing instructional personnel or school administrators in any position that requires direct contact with students and documents the findings.

7. Easter Seals SWFL prohibits confidentiality agreements with instructional personnel or school administrators who are dismissed, terminated, or resign in lieu of termination due to misconduct that affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student.

8. Our teachers and staff are highly respected professionals and members of our communities; Easter Seals SWFL works hard to hold employees to a high standard of ethics and principles.

9. Easter Seals SWFL employees are required to attend complete training on the adopted standards of ethical conduct.

10. Easter Seals SWFL employees have a duty to report misconduct by any personnel. This report is required to be done immediately.

11. Consequences for failing to report misconduct may include: written reprimand, suspension with or without pay, termination of employment, and discipline/sanctions on an educator’s certificate.

Training Requirement: All instructional personnel and administrators are required as a condition of employment to complete training on these standards of ethical conduct.

Reporting Misconduct by Instructional Personnel and Administrators: All employees and administrators have an obligation to report misconduct by instructional personnel and school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student. Examples of misconduct include but are not limited to, obscene language, drug and alcohol use, disparaging comments, prejudice or bigotry, sexual innuendo, cheating or testing violations, physical aggression, and accepting or offering favors. Reports of misconduct of employees should be made to the Human Resources Director. Reports of misconduct committed by administrators should be made to any member of administration outlined below. Legally sufficient allegations of misconduct by Florida certified educators will be reported to the Office of Professional Practices Services. Policies and procedures for reporting misconduct by instructional personnel or school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student are posted in the school office and on our Web site.

Reporting Child Abuse, Abandonment or Neglect: All employees and agents have an affirmative duty to report all actual or suspected cases of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect. Call 1-800-96-ABUSE or report online at: http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/abuse/report/.

Liability Protections: An employer who discloses information about a former or current employee to a prospective employer of the former or current employee upon the request of the prospective employer or of the former or current employee is immune from civil liability for such disclosure or its consequences unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the information disclosed by the current or former employer was knowingly false or violated any civil right of the former or current employee protected under F.S. Chapter 760. (F.S. 768.095)

It is important to document the details of the event and to secure evidence, if available. Employees reporting misconduct will be sheltered under the liability protections provided under ss.39.203 and 768.095, F.S.

Misconduct can be reported to the Human Resources Director, principal or administrator.

Report to:
Name: Linda Poteat-Brown
Title: Human Resources Director
Phone: 941-355-7637 x401
Email: lpoteat-brown@easterseals-swfl.org

Name: Don Herndon
Title: Principal
Phone: 941-355-7637 x425
Email: dherndon@easterseals-swfl.org

Jacque Ruch
Vice President Programs
941-355-7637 x452
jruch@easterseals-swfl.org