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Zen Center of San Diego Policies

Commitment to Transparency and Communication

The ZCSD Board strives for transparency and open communication with members of the Zen community whenever possible. Board meetings will generally be open meetings where members are invited to provide input unless legal and other confidential matters require the calling of a closed meeting. The Board will seek community input on amendments to existing governance documents and will solicit input in the creation of new documents. Whenever possible, plans for expenditures in excess of $5,000 will be shared with the community for consultation before such expenditure is made.

Adopted by the Zen Center of San Diego Board of Trustees
September 26, 2020

Past Litigation Against the Zen Center

The Board of Trustees of the Zen Center of San Diego takes claims of sexual harassment and abuse very seriously. In addition, the Board of Trustees always endeavors to provide a safe environment for every person attending the Zendo.

In July 2019, the Board of Trustees received actual claims of sexual abuse by Ezra Bayda, then a teacher at ZCSD, and it immediately suspended him from teaching and retained Faith Trust Institute to undertake an independent investigation and analysis of the claims being presented. Faith Trust Institute, at the Board’s direction, invited everyone having an interest in the investigation to participate. After Faith Trust Institute delivered its findings and analysis to the Board, the Board dismissed Mr. Bayda and presented a summary of the investigation’s findings to the ZCSD membership in the Zendo on November 2, 2019.

Subsequently, two of the women who participated in the investigation filed litigation in the San Diego Superior Court against the Zen Center and Mr. Bayda. That litigation was resolved in April 2022 in a global settlement of all parties. As part of the terms of that settlement, all parties acknowledged that the settlement constituted a compromise of disputed claims that was not to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of any party.

In moving forward, we, the Board, reaffirm our commitment to providing a safe environment to everyone who attends the Zen Center of San Diego. Directly below, you will find ZCSD’s Sexual Misconduct Complaint Procedure and its Code of Ethical Conduct for Teachers/Practice Leaders.

ZCSD Board of Trustees

Sexual Misconduct Complaint Procedure

Complaints about alleged sexual misconduct occurring in connection with the Zen Center of San Diego should be addressed to the president of the Board of Trustees, or if that person is not acceptable to the complainant, to the vice president (or another officer: the secretary or chief financial officer). The officers of the Board (minus any who are the target of the allegation) will investigate the complaint, including the nature of the alleged sexual misconduct, how when and where it occurred, and the identity of any injured persons and witnesses. The investigation will be conducted with confidentiality.

The Zen Center is required to report any allegations of sexual misconduct to our insurance carrier. If the insurance carrier decides to pursue the matter, they will contact the parties involved to continue the investigation. If the insurance carrier decides not to pursue the allegation, the officers of the ZCSD Board who conducted the initial investigation will determine the next steps, if any, to be followed.

Adopted by the Zen Center of San Diego Board of Trustees
December 13, 2020

The ZCSD Board officers can be reached through the following email addresses:

President: president@zencentersandiego.org

Vice President: zcsdvicepresident@gmail.com

Chief Financial Officer: zcsdcfo@gmail.com

Secretary: zcsdsecretary@gmail.com

Code of Ethical Conduct for Teachers/Practice Leaders (Teacher Trainees)

1. Confidentiality. The relationship between student and teacher* often involves the sharing of highly sensitive personal information. Respect for the student and for the relationship requires that teachers maintain such information in confidence. There may be occasions when, for the well-being of specific individuals and of the sangha, teachers may need to consult with other teachers or professionals concerning such confidences. On such occasions, teachers should assure that such consultations are maintained in confidence. The teacher has an obligation to be aware of the applicable law with respect to reporting intentions to harm self or others, child or elder abuse, and disclosure of crimes, and to inform the proper authorities as provided under applicable law.

2. Power. Teachers have an obligation to educate themselves about the power differential issues that inhere in the teacher/student relationship, as well as the potential effects of that power and its exercise on both teachers and others. Teachers should seek counsel from other teachers and professionals, as appropriate, about the use of a power differential and the harmful effects caused by its abuse. Teachers should be especially aware of the potential for subtle abuses of power that may arise in relation to their personal interests. Teachers must complete professional training in power relationships and maintaining boundaries and inform the ZCSD Board of Trustees what training has been completed. The training must be completed within a year from appointment (or within a year from adoption of this policy) or the Board may suspend teaching by the teacher or practice leader concerned.

3. Right Speech and Behavior. Mutual respect is foundational for an environment supportive of sound practice. Such respect is promoted when the teacher treats others with dignity and engages others truthfully and compassionately with a positive intention. This is modeled by right speech: refraining from lies, self-serving talk, slander, angry or abusive speech, and apportioning blame. Teachers should uphold and model legal and upright behavior both inside and outside the zendo.

4. Self-Awareness. Teachers should aspire to constant clarity of mind. They therefore have an obligation to engage in self-monitoring and self-care. Occupying the role of teacher can undermine a healthy sense of humility. In turn, a lack of humility can impair one’s ability to recognize and live into the fullness of the responsibilities of being a teacher. For that reason, teachers should engage in activities that balance the teaching role with grounding in regular practice and study of the Dharma, leisure, engagement in social or community responsibilities, and the establishment of a relationship with another recognized Dharma teacher with whom they can discuss and reflect on their work as teachers. The teacher will report the identity of the teacher(s) with whom they consult to the ZCSD Board of Trustees on an annual basis.

5. Boundaries. Teachers should not violate trust or use power and/or position for personal gain or self-satisfaction; any such behavior is considered a boundary violation. The ultimate responsibility for maintaining appropriate and clear boundaries between teacher and student always rests with the teacher. When a teacher is asked to act in a capacity that calls for competencies beyond the teacher’s expertise, the teacher will refer students to those with requisite expertise (e.g., mental health professionals, medical professionals, legal professionals, trauma experts).

6. Dual Relationships. Although not all dual relationships are harmful to students or the sangha, they have a significant potential to complicate student/teacher relationships and to undermine sangha harmony. Teachers should be alert to maintain appropriate boundaries and carefully consider the implications and dangers of dual relationships. Problems with dual relationships, especially when there is a power differential, can be subtle, and are difficult to regulate completely.

The following principles do not cover all situations in which dual relationships can be problematic:

- A teacher/practice leader must not initiate or maintain a romantic or sexual relationship with someone they are seeing in daisan/practice interview.

- A teacher/practice leader must not initiate or maintain a relationship that involves sustained physical contact (either prolonged one-time contact or repeated close contact) with someone they are seeing in daisan/practice interview.

- A teacher/practice leader should avoid any relationship that involves an exchange of services with a Zen Center student. If such a relationship occurs, the teacher/practice leader must be transparent with the Board and sangha about it.

7. Sexual Conduct. Romantic or sexual relations between a student and teacher have serious potential for the subtle and overt abuse of power differentials, for disruption of the sangha, and for consequent harm to all individuals and institutions involved. A teacher must never take advantage of his or her position to enter into a romantic or sexual relationship with a student, or make sexual advances toward a student, including through speech or touching, or engage in any form of sexual harassment. Romantic or sexual relations between teachers and students are strongly discouraged. However, if a teacher and a student choose to enter such a relationship in spite of such discouragement, their student-teacher relationship must come to an end immediately. The teacher should openly declare the romantic or sexual relationship to the sangha and state that their teacher-student relation has ended, with the former student finding a new teacher or, alternatively, the teacher resigning from the teacher role. The teacher should then strive for ongoing openness, particularly given the potential for this type of relationship to cause disruption within the sangha. The teacher has the ultimate obligation to assure that these guidelines are observed.

8. Accountability and Governance. Teachers will support the San Diego Zen Center’s chosen governance structure and will act to further the goals of accountability and transparency in all areas, including finances, decision making, and consideration of grievances, including allegations of ethical misconduct.

9. Conflicts of Interest. Teachers will be alert to potential conflicts of interest with students and other members of the sangha and will act so as to avoid them, and any material conflicts of interest will be disclosed to the ZCSD Board of Trustees and sangha immediately.

*The word 'teacher' as used in this document also refers to practice leaders (teacher trainees).

Adopted by the Zen Center of San Diego Board of Trustees
September 26, 2020
Revised August 11, 2021