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Chapter 505-6 PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES

Rule 505-6-.01 The Code of Ethics for Educators

(1) Introduction. The Code of Ethics for Educators defines the professional behavior of educators in Georgia and serves as a guide to ethical conduct. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission has adopted standards that represent the conduct generally accepted by the education profession. The code defines unethical conduct justifying disciplinary sanction and provides guidance for protecting the health, safety and general welfare of students and educators, and assuring the citizens of Georgia a degree of accountability within the education profession.
(2) Definitions
(a) "Breach of contract" occurs when an educator fails to honor a signed contract for employment with a school/school system by resigning in a manner that does not meet the guidelines established by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
(b) "Certificate" refers to any teaching, service, or leadership certificate, license, or permit issued by authority of the Professional Standards Commission.
(c) "Child endangerment" occurs when an educator disregards a substantial and/or unjustifiable risk of bodily harm to the student.
(d) "Educator" is a teacher, school or school system administrator, or other education personnel who holds a certificate issued by the Professional Standards Commission and persons who have applied for but have not yet received a certificate. For the purposes of the Code of Ethics for Educators,"educator" also refers to paraprofessionals, aides, and substitute teachers.
(e) "Student" is any individual enrolled in the state's public or private schools from preschool through grade 12 or any individual under the age of 18. For the purposes of the Code of Ethics for Educators, the enrollment period for a graduating student ends on August 31 of the school year of graduation.
(f) "Complaint" is any written and signed statement from a local board, the state board, or one or more individual residents of this state filed with the Professional Standards Commission alleging that an educator has breached one or more of the standards in the Code of Ethics for Educators. A "complaint" will be deemed a request to investigate.
(g) "Revocation" is the invalidation of any certificate held by the educator.
(h) "Denial" is the refusal to grant initial certification to an applicant for a certificate.
(i) "Suspension" is the temporary invalidation of any certificate for a period of time specified by the Professional Standards Commission.
(j) "Reprimand" admonishes the certificate holder for his or her conduct. The reprimand cautions that further unethical conduct will lead to a more severe action.
(k) "Warning" warns the certificate holder that his or her conduct is unethical. The warning cautions that further unethical conduct will lead to a more severe action.
(l) "Monitoring" is the quarterly appraisal of the educator's conduct by the Professional Standards Commission through contact with the educator and his or her employer. As a condition of monitoring, an educator may be required to submit a criminal background check (GCIC). The Commission specifies the length of the monitoring period.
(m) "No Probable Cause" is a determination by the Professional Standards Commission that, after a preliminary investigation, either no further action need be taken or no cause exists to recommend disciplinary action.
(3) Standards
(a) Standard 1: Legal Compliance - An educator shall abide by federal, state, and local laws and statutes. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to the commission or conviction of a felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude; of any other criminal offense involving the manufacture, distribution, trafficking, sale, or possession of a controlled substance or marijuana as provided for in Chapter 13 of Title 16; or of any other sexual offense as provided for in Code Section 16-6-1 through 16-6-17, 16-6-20, 16-6-22.2, or 16-12-100; or any other laws applicable to the profession. As used herein, conviction includes a finding or verdict of guilty, or a plea of nolo contendere, regardless of whether an appeal of the conviction has been sought; a situation where first offender treatment without adjudication of guilt pursuant to the charge was granted; and a situation where an adjudication of guilt or sentence was otherwise withheld or not entered on the charge or the charge was otherwise disposed of in a similar manner in any jurisdiction.
(b) Standard 2: Conduct with Students - An educator shall always maintain a professional relationship with all students, both in and outside the classroom. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:
1. committing any act of child abuse, including physical and verbal abuse;
2. committing any act of cruelty to children or any act of child endangerment;
3. committing any sexual act with a student or soliciting such from a student;
4. engaging in or permitting harassment of or misconduct toward a student that would violate a state or federal law;
5. soliciting, encouraging, or consummating an inappropriate written, verbal, electronic, or physical relationship with a student;
6. furnishing tobacco, alcohol, or illegal/unauthorized drugs to any student; or
7. failing to prevent the use of alcohol or illegal or unauthorized drugs by students under the educator's supervision (including but not limited to at the educator's residence or any other private setting).
(c) Standard 3: Alcohol or Drugs - An educator shall refrain from the use of alcohol or illegal or unauthorized drugs during the course of professional practice. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:
1. being on school or Local Unit of Administration (LUA)/school district premises or at a school or a LUA/school district-related activity while under the influence of, possessing, using, or consuming illegal or unauthorized drugs; and
2. being on school or LUA/school district premises or at a school-related activity involving students while under the influence of, possessing, or consuming alcohol. A school-related activity includes, but is not limited to, any activity sponsored by the school or school system (booster clubs, parent-teacher organizations, or any activity designed to enhance the school curriculum i.e. Foreign Language trips, etc).
(i) For the purposes of this standard, an educator shall be considered "under the influence" if the educator exhibits one or more of the following indicators, including but not limited to: slurred speech, enlarged pupils, bloodshot eyes, general personality changes, lack of physical coordination, poor motor skills, memory problems, concentration problems, etc.
(d) Standard 4: Honesty - An educator shall exemplify honesty and integrity in the course of professional practice. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to, falsifying, misrepresenting, or omitting:
1. professional qualifications, criminal history, college or staff development credit and/or degrees, academic award, and employment history;
2. information submitted to federal, state, local school districts and other governmental agencies;
3. information regarding the evaluation of students and/or personnel;
4. reasons for absences or leaves;
5. information submitted in the course of an official inquiry/investigation; and
6. information submitted in the course of professional practice.
(e) Standard 5: Public Funds and Property - An educator entrusted with public funds and property shall honor that trust with a high level of honesty, accuracy, and responsibility. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:
1. misusing public or school-related funds;
2. failing to account for funds collected from students or parents;
3. submitting fraudulent requests or documentation for reimbursement of expenses or for pay (including fraudulent or purchased degrees, documents, or coursework);
4. co-mingling public or school-related funds with personal funds or checking accounts; and
5. using school or school district property without the approval of the local board of education/governing board or authorized designee.
(f) Standard 6: Remunerative Conduct - An educator shall maintain integrity with students, colleagues, parents, patrons, or businesses when accepting gifts, gratuities, favors, and additional compensation. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:
1. soliciting students or parents of students, or school or LUA/school district personnel, to purchase equipment, supplies, or services from the educator or to participate in activities that financially benefit the educator unless approved by the local board of education/governing board or authorized designee;
2. accepting gifts from vendors or potential vendors for personal use or gain where there may be the appearance of a conflict of interest;
3. tutoring students assigned to the educator for remuneration unless approved by the local board of education/governing board or authorized designee; and
4. coaching, instructing, promoting athletic camps, summer leagues, etc. that involves students in an educator's school system and from whom the educator receives remuneration unless approved by the local board of education/governing board or authorized designee. These types of activities must be in compliance with all rules and regulations of the Georgia High School Association.
(g) Standard 7: Confidential Information - An educator shall comply with state and federal laws and state school board policies relating to the confidentiality of student and personnel records, standardized test material and other information. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:
1. sharing of confidential information concerning student academic and disciplinary records, health and medical information, family status and/or income, and assessment/testing results unless disclosure is required or permitted by law;
2. sharing of confidential information restricted by state or federal law;
3. violation of confidentiality agreements related to standardized testing including copying or teaching identified test items, publishing or distributing test items or answers, discussing test items, violating local school system or state directions for the use of tests or test items, etc.; and
4. violation of other confidentiality agreements required by state or local policy.
(h) Standard 8: Required Reports - An educator shall file reports of a breach of one or more of the standards in the Code of Ethics for Educators, child abuse (O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5), or any other required report. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:
1. failure to report all requested information on documents required by the Commission when applying for or renewing any certificate with the Commission;
2. failure to make a required report of a violation of one or more standards of the Code of Ethics for educators of which they have personal knowledge as soon as possible but no later than ninety (90) days from the date the educator became aware of an alleged breach unless the law or local procedures require reporting sooner; and
3. failure to make a required report of any violation of state or federal law soon as possible but no later than ninety (90) days from the date the educator became aware of an alleged breach unless the law or local procedures require reporting sooner. These reports include but are not limited to: murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, kidnapping, any sexual offense, any sexual exploitation of a minor, any offense involving a controlled substance and any abuse of a child if an educator has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused.
(i) Standard 9: Professional Conduct - An educator shall demonstrate conduct that follows generally recognized professional standards and preserves the dignity and integrity of the education profession. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to a resignation that would equate to a breach of contract; any conduct that impairs and/or diminishes the certificate holder's ability to function professionally in his or her employment position; or behavior or conduct that is detrimental to the health, welfare, discipline, or morals of students.
(j) Standard 10: Testing - An educator shall administer state-mandated assessments fairly and ethically. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:
1. committing any act that breaches Test Security; and
2. compromising the integrity of the assessment.
(4) Reporting
(a) Educators are required to report a breach of one or more of the Standards in the Code of Ethics for Educators as soon as possible but no later than ninety (90) days from the date the educator became aware of an alleged breach unless the law or local procedures require reporting sooner. Educators should be aware of legal requirements and local policies and procedures for reporting unethical conduct. Complaints filed with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission must be in writing and must be signed by the complainant (parent, educator, or other LUA/school district employee, etc.).
(b) The Commission notifies local and state officials of all disciplinary actions. In addition, suspensions and revocations are reported to national officials, including the NASDTEC Clearinghouse.
(5) Disciplinary Action
(a) The Georgia Professional Standards Commission is authorized to suspend, revoke, or deny certificates, to issue a reprimand or warning, or to monitor the educator's conduct and performance after an investigation is held and notice and opportunity for a hearing are provided to the certificate holder. Any of the following grounds shall be considered cause for disciplinary action against the educator:
1. unethical conduct as outlined in The Code of Ethics for Educators, Standards 1-10 (GaPSC Rule 505-6-.01 );
2. disciplinary action against a certificate on grounds consistent with those specified in the Code of Ethics for Educators, Standards 1-10 (GaPSC Rule 505-6-.01 );
3. order from a court of competent jurisdiction or a request from the Department of Human Resources that the certificate should be suspended or the application for certification should be denied for non-payment of child support (O.C.G.A. § 19-6-28.1 and § 19-11-9.3);
4. notification from the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation that the educator is in default and not in satisfactory repayment status on a student loan guaranteed by the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation (O.C.G.A. § 20-3-295);
5. suspension or revocation of any professional license or certificate
6. violation of any other laws and rules applicable to the profession (O.C.G.A. § 16-13-111); and
7. any other good and sufficient cause that renders an educator unfit for employment as an educator.
(b) An individual whose certificate has been revoked, denied, or suspended may not serve as a volunteer or be employed as an educator, paraprofessional, aide, substitute teacher or, in any other position during the period of his or her revocation, suspension or denial for a violation of The Code of Ethics. The superintendent and the educator designated by the superintendent/Local Board of Education shall be responsible for assuring that an individual whose certificate has been revoked, denied, or suspended is not employed or serving in any capacity in their district. Both the superintendent and the superintendent's designee must hold GaPSC certification. Should the superintendent's certificate be revoked, suspended, or denied, the Board of Education shall be responsible for assuring that the superintendent whose certificate has been revoked, suspended, or denied is not employed or serving in any capacity in their district.

Rule 505-6-.02 Reinstatement or Renewal of a Suspended or Revoked Certificate

(1) Re-application following the denial of a certificate.
(a) If an application is denied according to the stipulations of 505-6-.01(5)(a)3. and 4., a certificate will automatically be granted upon notification by the court, DHR, or the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation to do so provided current certification requirements are met.
(b) Any person whose certificate has been denied may petition for the right to reapply for a certificate by submitting sufficient evidence to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) that the reason or reasons for the denial have ceased to be a factor in the performance or conduct of the educator seeking a certificate. The Commission may consider the request based solely upon the written submission of the educator or his/her authorized representative and without conducting an oral hearing. If the Commission approves the petition to apply for a certificate, then the individual must satisfy all current certification requirements.
(c) If application for a certificate is denied on the same grounds for which a certificate may be revoked or suspended, except under stipulations addressed in 505-6-.01(5)(a)3. and 4., any petition to apply for certification will not be considered earlier than two years from the date of the denial. If the initial petition to apply for certification is denied, any subsequent petition may not be filed earlier than one year from the date of the previous denial. However, the Commission in its discretion may establish a shorter time period before re-application. Petitions are not contested matters under the Administrative Procedures Act and; therefore, do not afford educators due process rights.
(2) Reinstatement of a suspended certificate.
(a) If the certificate was suspended according to the stipulations of 505-6-.01(5)(a)3. and 4., it will be reinstated automatically when the Commission is notified by the court, DHR, or the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation to do so provided the certificate has not expired during the period of suspension. If the certificate has expired, current applicable GaPSC certification requirements must be met prior to reinstatement.
(b) A suspended certificate is automatically reinstated at the end of the suspension period, provided that it did not expire during that time. If the certificate expired during the period of suspension, a new certificate may be secured at the end of the suspension period by making application and by meeting the current applicable certification requirements of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
(c) Any person whose certificate has been suspended may petition for early reinstatement of a suspended certificate or for early renewal of an expired certificate by submitting sufficient evidence to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission that the reason or reasons for the suspension have ceased to be a factor in the performance or conduct of the educator seeking reinstatement. The Commission may consider the request based solely upon the written submission of the educator or his/her authorized representative and without conducting an oral hearing. Petitions are not contested matters under the Administrative Procedures Act and; therefore, do not afford educators due process rights.
(3) Revocation of a certificate is permanent subject to the following provisions:
(a) Any person whose certificate has been revoked may petition for the right to apply for a new certificate by submitting sufficient evidence to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission that the reason or reasons for the revocation have ceased to be a factor in the performance or conduct of the educator seeking a new certificate. The Commission may consider the request based solely upon the written submission of the educator or his/her authorized representative.
(b) A period of three years must elapse from the date of the certificate revocation before a petition to apply for a new certificate will be considered. If the initial petition to apply for a new certificate is denied, any subsequent petition to apply for a new certificate may not be filed earlier than two years from the date of the previous denial. Petitions are not contested matters under the Administrative Procedures Act and; therefore, do not afford educators due process rights. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission reserves the right to consider the time to apply after the initial three-year period on a case-by-case basis. If the Georgia Professional Standards Commission approves the petition to apply for a new certificate, then the individual must satisfy all current certification requirements.

Rule 505-6-.03 Change of Address

(1) Upon the educator's receipt of written notification that an educator is the subject of an investigation, it shall be the duty of the educator to notify the Commission in writing of any change in the educator's home or employment address until the Commission issues a final decision in the matter.
(2) During this period, the mailing by certified mail of any notice, correspondence, or order regarding an investigation or disciplinary action to the last address specified by the educator after receiving written notice of the investigation, or if the commission has not received a change of address from the educator, the address at which the educator received written notification of an investigation shall constitute proper service upon the educator. If the commission has been notified in writing that the educator is represented by legal counsel, the commission shall also send a copy of any notice to the educator's legal counsel. Notice by certified mail pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-984.4(d.1) shall be complete upon mailing.

Rule 505-6-.04 Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH) Hearings

(1) Request for Hearing - To contest the Commission's proposed disciplinary sanction, an educator must request a hearing within thirty (30) calendar days after service of notice of the Commission's probable cause finding and proposed sanction.
(a) A request for hearing is defined as a clear written expression by the educator or his/her authorized representative that the educator wants the opportunity to contest the Commission's proposed sanction. Said written expression must be mailed, transmitted by facsimile, or personally delivered to the Professional Practices Section of the Commission within thirty (30) calendar days after service of notice of the Commission's probable cause finding and proposed sanction.
(b) If the educator timely requests a hearing, an opportunity for hearing shall be afforded the educator as provided in O.C.G.A. § 50-13-41.
(c) The failure of an educator to request a hearing within thirty (30) calendar days after service of notice of the Commission's probable cause finding and proposed sanction shall operate as a waiver of the educator's right to contest the proposed sanction and the proposed sanction shall become the final decision of the Commission.
(2) Extended Time for Request - The Commission may, in the exercise of its discretion for good cause shown, allow a request for hearing to be made beyond the thirty (30) calendar day period.
(a) A petition to allow a request for hearing to be made beyond the thirty (30) calendar day period must be made in writing, must contain the information required by O.C.G.A. § 50-13-9.1, and must contain a statement clearly outlining why the request for hearing was not timely made. Although the Commission may grant an oral hearing regarding a petition for late filing, the Commission may consider the petition based solely upon the written submission of the educator or his/her authorized representative.
(3) Denial or Dismissal of Hearing Requests - A request for hearing may be denied or dismissed for the following reasons:
(a) The Commission may deny or dismiss a request for hearing if it has been withdrawn by the educator or if the educator or his/her authorized representative does not submit a written request for hearing within thirty (30) calendar days after service of notice of the Commission's probable cause finding and proposed sanction.
(b) The Administrative Law Judge may deny or dismiss a request for hearing pursuant to the Rules of the Office of State Administrative Hearings if it has been withdrawn by the educator or if the educator fails to appear at a hearing scheduled by the Office of State Administrative Hearings for such educator.
(4) Filing of Answer - Within thirty (30) calendar days after service of the Notice of Hearing issued by the Administrative Law Judge of the Office of State Administrative Hearings, the educator must, under oath, answer and respond by filing an Answer with the Office of State Administrative Hearings either admitting, claiming insufficient knowledge to admit or deny, or denying each and every allegation contained in the Statement of Matters Asserted attached to the Notice of Hearing. If represented by counsel, the answer may be filed by the educator's counsel and need not be verified under oath by the educator.
(a) All allegations which are not specifically answered are deemed to be admitted.
(b) All allegations which the educator claims to have insufficient knowledge to admit or deny are deemed to be denied.
(c) The failure of the educator to answer and respond as set forth above may be grounds for the Administrative Law Judge to enter a default order against the educator pursuant to the rules of the Office of State Administrative Hearings.

Rule 505-6-.05 Review of Initial Decision of Administrative Law Judge

(1) Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to specify the procedure of review of the initial decision of a hearing officer pursuant to a request from the respondent educator or the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
(2) The initial decision in all cases before the Office of State Administrative Hearings shall become the Final Decision of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission without further agency action and without expiration of the thirty (30) day review period otherwise provided for in O.C.G.A. 50-13-41.d.5. The effective date of such Final Decision shall be the date of filing of the Final Decision with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

Rule 505-6-.06 Request for Stay of Final Decision

(1) A request to the Commission to stay the enforcement of a final decision pending superior court review must be made in writing and must contain a statement clearly outlining why a stay should be granted.
(a) Although the Commission may grant an oral hearing regarding a request for a stay, the Commission may consider the request based solely upon the written submission of the educator or his/her authorized representative.

Rule 505-6-.07 Educator Monitoring

(1) Monitoring is the Commission's quarterly appraisal of an educator's conduct while employed in a Georgia public or private school for a period of time specified by the Commission. Monitoring may be the only disciplinary action or may be used in conjunction with a suspension, reprimand or warning.
(2) When the Commission approves a final decision that includes monitoring, the period of monitoring begins on the first day after the effective date of the decision or following reinstatement of certification from a suspension.
(3) Educators who have received the monitoring sanction must advise the Commission of any change in their residence and/or employment status. Failure to so inform the Commission or failure to respond to requests regarding residence or employment status shall be deemed a violation of the monitoring sanction.
(4) During the period of monitoring, the educator's place of employment will be contacted quarterly to determine the educator's conduct. Monitoring may include a review of the educator's conduct, personnel records, and any records of appropriate law enforcement agencies. As a condition of monitoring, an educator may be required to submit a criminal background check (GCIC).
(5) Should the Commission receive information that the educator has failed to comply with the monitoring conditions or with the law and rules regulating his/her practice as an educator during the period of monitoring, it shall be considered grounds for additional disciplinary action against the educator's certificate.
(6) If the monitoring period has ended and the educator has not been employed as an educator in a Georgia school during the monitoring period, the case will be closed. Should the educator ever become employed in a Georgia school or submit a new application for new or renewed certification, a new case number will be assigned and an investigation will be conducted to determine if there has been any recurrence of the behavior that initiated the monitoring sanction. The investigative summary will be submitted to the Commission for review to determine if further action is required and could be considered grounds for additional disciplinary action. Educators that are employed will continue to be monitored for the specified length of time.

Rule 505-6-.08 Student Loans

(1) Upon receipt of a written request from the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation that an educator's certificate be suspended or the application for certification be denied pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-3-295, the Professional Standards Commission shall automatically suspend an educator's certificate.
(2) The educator's certificate shall be automatically reinstated or, if the application for certification was denied, shall be granted, provided current certification requirements are met, upon receipt of a written notice of release from the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation notifying the Professional Standards Commission that the educator is in satisfactory repayment status pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-3-295, provided the certificate has not expired during the period of suspension. If the certificate has expired, current applicable certification requirements must be met prior to reinstatement.

Rule 505-6-.09 Investigation Instituted by Self-Referral

(1) When an educator admits on a Professional Standards Commission application to having resigned or being discharged for committing a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or being under investigation by law enforcement authorities for such conduct or for committing a breach of the code of ethics or for a violation of state education laws or having a criminal history or having had a surrender, denial, revocation or suspension of a certificate or being the subject of an investigation or adverse action regarding a certificate, an investigation will automatically open without notification to the commission and with written notification to the educator pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-984.3(5)(c).