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Chapter 506-5 CODE OF ETHICS FOR EDUCATORS

Rule 506-5-.01 General

(1) Preamble. Educators, on whom the development and perpetuation of knowledge depends, recognize their primary responsibility is to students. As members of the teaching profession, educators also recognize their responsibility to the educational system, to the profession, and to the citizenry. These principles establish the elements of professional behavior in light of these responsibilities. These principles are intended to aid educators individually and collectively in maintaining a high level of ethical conduct. These principles are standards by which educators are able to determine the propriety of their conduct in their relationships with students, with colleagues, and with the public.
(a) Purpose. These principles are intended to serve educators as a guide to ethical conduct. They provide a sound basis for solution of many problems which arise in educators' relationships with students, with other educators, and with the public. Undoubtedly, interpretation of these principles by an appropriate authority will be required at times. As a rule, however, educators who are capable, honest, intelligent and vigilant, and who conduct their affairs in the light of their own conscientious interpretation of these principles should have no difficulty in the discharge of their ethical responsibilities.
(b) Principles Applicable to All. There is but one code of ethics for all certified educators.
(c) Ethics are Principles. The wide extent of an unethical practice does not make it ethical or ethically acceptable, for "Ethics" has to do with principles. For the same reason, a procedure or conduct unethical in one area of the State cannot be ethical under the same circumstances in another.
(2) Introduction. The Professional Teaching Practices Act, O.C.G.A. Section 20-2-790, et seq., provides that the practice of teaching and the rendering of administrative and supervisory services are recognized and declared to be professional services affected with the public interest. Teaching is declared to be a profession in this State with all similar rights, responsibilities, and privileges accorded other recognized professions. The distinguishing characteristics of a profession as opposed to occupations or trades, include not only a special knowledge and education but a requirement that its members adhere to an ethical code of professional behavior. It is the responsibility of the profession to develop an ethical code of conduct which shall define the professional behavior of educators in this State.
(a) The General Assembly of Georgia has charged the Professional Practices Commission, the body responsible for enforcing the Professional Teaching Practices act, with the duty of adopting a code of professional ethics for educators which represents the standards of conduct generally accepted by the education profession in this State. This Code is established by the Professional Practices Commission to discharge that duty. This Code is intended to set forth the conduct that is related to the educator's performance of professional responsibilities that is considered to be proper ethical behavior, as well as defining that conduct which is considered by the education profession to be unethical and justifying disciplinary sanction.
(b) It is the intent of this Code:
(1) to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of students and educators within the State of Georgia;
(2) to assure the citizens of the State that the education profession is accountable for acts of unprofessional conduct of its members; and
(3) to define and provide notice to educators within the State of Georgia of acts of unprofessional conduct for which they are accountable pursuant to O.C.G.A. Section 20-2-790, et seq.
(c) A professional ethical code defines the responsibilities of the professional and thus differs from a personal and ethical code in the area of its application. While an individual educator's personal and professional ethical codes may coincide, this code does not seek to regulate personal conduct. This Code addresses the professional responsibilities of educators. The provisions of this Code are not intended to be applicable to the private conduct of an educator except where the educator's role as a private person is not distinguishable from the role as an educator and the fulfillment of the professional obligations.
(d) The ethical standards of professional conduct may exceed but are never less than, nor contrary to, those required by law. Violation of law may subject the educator to civil or criminal liability, as provided in this Code of Ethics, in local board of education policy, or the Rules of the Professional Standards Commission. Revocation of a teaching certificate is the maximum penalty which may be imposed by the teaching profession on an educator who violates the ethical standards of the profession.
(e) An educational administrator is first a teacher. The primary responsibilities of the administrator are to advance the education of students, and therefore, are not different from those of the classroom teacher, although the amount of time spent by the administrator and classroom teacher on various duties and the perspective of the administrator may vary. As a consequence, this Code should be construed as applying to all educators who hold a valid Georgia Educator Certificate issued by the Professional Standards Commission or its predecessor authority, the Georgia Board of Education. Where the Code may present a specific concern(s) for the administrator, those particular concerns will be detailed.
(3) Supplementary Definitions.
(a) Educator. See Teacher, Rule 506-1-.01(9).
(b) Student. The term means the following:
1. Any individual enrolled in a course of study in an elementary, middle, or secondary school;
2. Any individual receiving instruction in a school or program operated by or under the jurisdiction of the Department of Human Resources, the Department of Children and Youth Services, the Georgia Department of Education, or any other state agency; or
3. Any individual formerly enrolled in a course of study in an elementary, middle, or secondary school who is under eighteen years of age and who has not fulfilled secondary school graduation requirements.
(c) Colleague. Any person with whom the educator has a professional relationship and includes fellow workers and employees, regardless of their status as educators.
(d) Supervisor. Any person who possesses the authority to evaluate or direct the performance of a colleague.

Rule 506-5-.02 The Code of Ethics

This Code is in three parts: "Canons," "Ethical Considerations" and "Standards of Conduct," each of which is designed to complement the other. "Canons" are the aspirations of the profession. Because they represent the ideal, it is recognized that educators may fall short of these principles. The "Ethical Considerations," although not themselves a binding code of conduct, should be used by educators in interpreting the "Standards of Conduct" to ensure that the educator always acts within the confines of ethical professional behavior. The "Standards of Conduct" establish mandatory prohibitions and requirements. These Standards are binding on educators. Violation of these Standards may subject an educator to investigation by the Professional Practices Commission and disciplinary action by the Professional Standards Commission and/or by the local board of education.

(a) Canon I: An Educator Should Strive Always to Improve the Educational System.
1. Ethical Consideration: EC 1-1. An educator should develop and maintain an effective educational relationship with all students, parents and educators. To have an effective educational relationship with a student, an educator must have an advanced knowledge, consistent with the educator's level of formal training, of the area in which the educator is to perform professional services and a strong desire to use that advanced knowledge and training to improve educational opportunities for all students.
2. Ethical Consideration: EC 1-2. The educational system is the institution through which educators are able to teach students. The professional educator should support and work to improve the educational system. An educator should work with colleagues, either independently or through association with others, to assure necessary improvement in educational services.
3. Ethical Consideration: EC 1-3. Support of the educational system does not require uncritical agreement with all educational and board policies. Constructive criticism offered in a professional manner is an appropriate way to seek improvement of the educational system. An educator should also respect the right of others to exercise independent thought and to express constructive criticism in an appropriate and professional manner.
4. Ethical Consideration: EC 1-4. A supervisor should recognize the value of the views of colleagues as to educational policy and, as appropriate, utilize other viewpoints in shaping policy and making decisions.
5. Ethical Consideration: EC 1-5. Educators fulfilling the role of judge or tribunal member concerning actions of students or other educators should base their decisions only on the evidence and information presented during formal hearings. While serving as members of a tribunal, educators should avoid conduct which would create the appearance of impropriety in their decision making. An educator should never pressure, coerce or otherwise limit a colleague's expression of professional opinion or judgment in a statutory or regulatory decision making procedure, such as those required under federal and state special education laws, or in response to an educator's testimony or evidence in any school related due process forum.
(b) Canon II: An Educator Should Act to Improve the Educator's Personal Abilities and to Improve the Educator's School Environment.
1. Ethical Consideration: EC 2-1. An educator recognizes that continued study is necessary not only to retain certification but also to maintain one's professional abilities. An educator seeks continually to improve his/her proficiency. All educators should endeavor to support and foster individual professional improvement.
2. Ethical Consideration: EC 2-2. The beginning point in the support and improvement of the educational system is the improvement of the educator's own professional competence. Continued study, both formal and informal, is necessary for the professional to maintain competence and improve skill. It is only from a position of individual professional competence that the educator can work effectively to support and improve the educational system.
3. Ethical Consideration: EC 2-3. An effective employment relationship between the educator and the local school system is essential to the educational relationship between educator and student. Both contracting parties must interact honestly and in good faith. An educator should not execute a contract he/she does not intend or knows he/she will be unable to fulfill. An educator should not abandon the professional duties the educator has contracted to deliver except in an emergency beyond the control of the educator. An educator should be honest in making application for employment. An educator should not assist anyone in deceiving a supervisor, a board of education or other employer concerning that person's credentials or qualifications.
(c) Canon III: An Educator should Always Maintain a Proper Professional Relationship with Students and Colleagues.
1. Ethical Consideration: EC 3-1. An effective educational relationship with students is essential to a productive learning environment. The educator must develop and maintain this relationship through sound educational practices and exemplary conduct. The classroom must provide a climate in which learning can take place. An educator should be creative in developing an effective educational relationship with students. An educator truthfully and without bias evaluates and/or assigns grades to students.
2. Ethical Consideration: EC 3-2. An educator protects students from conditions that are detrimental to learning, health, or safety. An educator who has a reasonable basis to believe that a student has been abused as defined by law should make such reports as are required by law and are necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the student.
3. Ethical Consideration: EC 3-3. The educator should maintain an appropriate educational relationship with all students, both in and outside the classroom. An educator should never solicit, encourage or consummate a romantic or physical relationship or sexual contact with any student, whether the student is over the age of majority or is in the educator's class or school. An educator should never touch a student in an inappropriate way or manner, either out of anger or with an intent to harm the student or for personal gratification.
4. Ethical Consideration: EC 3-4. In the administration of discipline and otherwise, an educator treats all students with dignity and in compliance with all the policies of the educator's employing school district.
5. Ethical Consideration: EC 3-5. An educator does not disclose confidential information concerning students except to preserve the health, safety and welfare of the students or others, in emergency situations, as lawfully directed by a supervisor or as otherwise required by law. Educational personnel respect and recognize the confidentiality rights of students and others in accordance with provisions of valid administrative regulations as well as state and federal statutes. Unless authorized by statute, policy or at the lawful direction of his/her supervisors, an educator should not destroy, remove or alter educational records.
6. Ethical Consideration: EC 3-6. An educator should not accept any gift, gratuity, favor or additional compensation which might impair or appear to impair or influence professional decisions or actions. An educator, except as authorized by his/her board of education, should not tutor for compensation a student in the educator's class. An educator should never use position or influence to profit personally from students, their families, or from colleagues.
(d) Canon IV: An Educator Should Assist in Maintaining the Professional Competence of the Education Profession.
1. Ethical Consideration: EC 4-1. Entry into the teaching profession is regulated by the certification process of the Professional Standards Commission. The Certification process is designed to maintain minimum competency standards for the profession. The integrity of the profession is dependent upon the accuracy of the credentials and information on which the certification determinations are made.
2. Ethical Consideration: EC 4-2. An educator should provide accurate, truthful and complete information to the Professional Standards Commission and to the local school system concerning his/her certification transactions or satisfaction of in-service or continuing education credit requirements. An educator should not assist anyone or further the application of anyone in providing inaccurate or untruthful information to the State Board of Education, the local school system, the Professional Standards Commission or the Professional Practices Commission concerning any individual's application or eligibility for professional certification.
3. Ethical Consideration: EC 4-3. An educator upon request should provide any information he/she has to the Professional Standards Commission and/or the Professional Practices Commission which would warrant or support the suspension, revocation or denial of a certificate, license or teaching credential of any other educator.
(e) Canon V: An Educator Should Assist in Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession.
1. Ethical Consideration: EC 5-1. Essential in maintaining the integrity of the teaching profession is the upholding of the Code of Ethics for Educators and the Standards of Professional Performance. All educators will seek to adhere to this Code and the Standards and should be acquainted with the provisions of this Code.
2. Ethical Consideration: EC 5-2. An educator is concerned with maintaining the integrity of the teaching profession and should not tolerate actions of others which violate the provisions of this Code. An educator who possesses knowledge that another educator has violated the Standards of Conduct of this Code should report such information to local educational authorities and to the Professional Practices Commission.
3. Ethical Consideration: EC 5-3. An educator should be accurate, complete and truthful in all information submitted in the course of an investigation by a governmental agency regarding students or colleagues; however, the educator is entitled to refuse to give evidence against himself/herself which may tend to incriminate the educator as defined by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and no adverse inference may be drawn from the exercise of the right, except as may be authorized by law.
4. Ethical Consideration: EC 5-4. When faced with a situation which may violate this Code, an educator should seek the assistance and counsel of experienced colleagues. In situations where there is any reasonable difference in the opinions as to the meaning or interpretation of this Code, educators should seek guidance from the Professional Practices Commission, before engaging in the questioned activity.
(f) Canon VI: A Supervisor Should Exemplify the Best Qualities of an Educator.
1. Ethical Consideration: EC 6-1. The supervisor should be a leader who articulates distinct goals and who displays the ability and authority necessary to guide educators and students to work toward these goals. A supervisor recognizes the value of those colleagues who seek to improve their competence and supports their efforts within the capacities of the system.
2. Ethical Consideration: EC 6-2. A supervisor serves as an educator through example. A supervisor should be fair and consistent in exercising authority and act with prudence and without arbitrariness or capriciousness. A supervisor should not use authority to expose colleagues or subordinates to unwarranted embarrassment or to otherwise impair their professional dignity. A supervisor should truthfully and without bias evaluate educators. A supervisor should endeavor to follow the legal requirements of due process, when applicable, in disciplining subordinates and students. A supervisor should be honest in the representations he/she makes to an educator applying for employment.
3. Ethical Consideration: EC 6-3. A supervisor should not use his/her professional position for personal gain or profit. A supervisor should never solicit or accept any gift, gratuity, favor or additional compensation which might impair or appear to impair or influence professional decisions or actions.
4. Ethical Consideration: EC 6-4. A supervisor should not require or direct a colleague to violate any provision of this code, or any rights of a student, parent, educator or citizen. A supervisor should not assign or delegate to another educator responsibility beyond the scope of that educator's qualifications and credentials unless such delegation or assignment is otherwise authorized by policy or required by law. A supervisor does not request or expect any teacher, student or colleague to take action that the administrator knows or should know is contrary to law.
5. Ethical Consideration: EC 6-5. A supervisor should award or recommend the award of positions to the employing governmental body on the basis of law, policy, professional qualifications and/or the needs of the system. A supervisor should never retaliate against, or coerce or intimidate any educator for exercising of legal right or for adhering to any ethical consideration or standard of conduct. A supervisor should not retaliate against, or coerce or intimidate a colleague for his/her assistance or support of a parent or of a student in the exercise of any right protected by law.
(g) Standards of Conduct. The Standards of Conduct to be observed by educators are set forth below. These Standards establish mandatory prohibitions and requirements. These Standards are binding on educators. Any violation of these Standards may subject an educator to investigation by the Professional Practices Commission and disciplinary action by the Professional Standards Commission and/or by the local board of education.
1. Standard 1: Disregard or Abandonment of Generally Recognized Professional Standards. Any act in flagrant disregard or clear abandonment of generally recognized professional standards, as adopted by this Commission pursuant to O.C.G.A Section 20-2-795, in the course of any of the following professional practices is an unethical act:
(i) Assessment, treatment, instruction, or supervision of students;
(ii) Employment or evaluation of personnel; or
(iii) Management of monies or property.
2. Standard 2: Dishonesty. An educator shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in the performance of professional duties.
3. Standard 3: Misrepresentation or Falsification in the Course of Professional Practice. Any falsification or deliberate misrepresentation, including omission of a material fact by an educator concerning any of the following is an unethical act:
(i) Statement of professional qualifications;
(ii) Application or recommendation for professional employment, promotion, or certification, not including a recommendation pursuant to a settlement of disputed facts;
(iii) Application or recommendation for college or university admission, scholarship, grant, academic award, or similar benefit;
(iv) Representation of completion of college or staff development credit;
(v) Evaluation or grading of students and/or personnel, not including an evaluation or recommendation pursuant to a settlement of disputed facts;
(vi) Submission of financial or program compliance reports submitted to state, federal or other governmental agencies;
(vii) Submission of information in the course of an official inquiry by the employing school district or the Professional Practices Commission related to acts of unprofessional conduct; provided, however, that an educator shall be entitled to decline to give evidence against himself/herself if such evidence may tend to incriminate the educator as that term is defined by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 1, Paragraph 16 of the Georgia Constitution; or
(viii) Submission of information in the course of an investigation by a law enforcement agency or by child protective services regarding school related criminal activity; provided, however, that an educator shall be entitled to decline to give evidence against himself/herself in any such investigation if the same may tend to incriminate the educator as that term is defined by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and Article 1, Section 1, Paragraph 16 of the Georgia Constitution.
4. Standard 4: Improper Remunerative Conduct. The solicitation of students or parents of students to purchase equipment, supplies, or services from the educator in a private remunerative capacity is unethical. An educator shall not tutor for remuneration students assigned to his/her classes, unless approved by the local board of education or the superintendent. An educator shall not exploit professional relationships with students, colleagues, parents, school patrons, businesses or school board members for personal gain or private advantage.
5. Standard 5: Abuse of Students. Unethical conduct includes the commission by an educator of any sexual exploitation or abusive act with or to a student as defined below:
(i) Any unlawful sexual act;
(ii) Any solicitation of any unlawful sexual act, whether written, verbal or physical;
(iii) Any act of child abuse, as defined by law;
(iv) Any act of sexual harassment, as defined by law; or
(v) Any solicitation, encouragement or consummation of a romantic or physical relationship with a student, or any sexual contact with a student. The definition of the term "romantic relationship" includes "dating" a student or otherwise being involved in an inappropriate social relationship.
6. Standard 6: Confidential Information. An educator shall keep in confidence personally identifiable information regarding students or their family members that has been obtained in the course of professional service, unless disclosure is required by law or is necessary for the personal safety of the student or others.
7. Standard 7: Unconstitutional or Discriminatory Acts. Unethical conduct includes any willful or malicious violation of the constitutional or civil rights of a student or colleague by an educator.
8. Standard 8: Failure to Make a Required Report. Unethical conduct includes the failure by an educator to make a report required by O.C.G.A. Section 20-2-795.1; Section 19-7-5 or 20-2-1184. Also included herein, the failure by an educator to notify the Professional Practices Commission of a professional colleague's conduct which clearly is in violation of the Standards of Conduct as promulgated by the Professional Practices Commission or conduct which constitutes a basis for the revocation, suspension or denial of the educator's Georgia Educator Certificate.
9. Standard 9: Alcohol or Controlled Substance Abuse. Unethical conduct includes:
(i) Being under the influence of, possessing, using or consuming on school premises or at school-sponsored activity a Schedule I controlled substance, as defined by O.C.G.A Section 16-13-25; or a Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substance, as defined by O.C.G.A Sections 16-13-26 through 16-13-29, without a prescription authorizing such use;
(ii) Being under the influence of, possessing, using or consuming an alcoholic beverage on school premises or at a school-sponsored activity involving students; or
(iii) Furnishing alcohol or controlled substance to any student(s). Unprofessional conduct includes the unlawful furnishing of alcohol or a controlled substance(s), as defined in O.C.G.A. Section 16-13-21, to any student by an educator.
10. Standard 10: Criminal Acts. Any act which constitutes a criminal offense of moral turpitude, including misdemeanors other than minor traffic offenses, or a felony under the laws of the United States or of any state is an unethical act.
11. Standard 11: Public Funds and Property. The misuse of public funds or property, or funds of a school related organization by an educator is unethical. The failure to account for funds collected by an educator from students or parents is unethical. The fraudulent submission of requests for reimbursement of expenses or for pay is unethical.
12. Standard 12: Unauthorized Professional Practice. Any act performed as an employee in a position for which certification is required by rules of the Professional Standards Commission during any period in which the individual's teaching, service, or leadership certificate has been suspended or revoked.
13. Standard 13: Abandonment of Contract for Professional Services. Unethical conduct includes the abandonment of a contract for professional services, or the willful refusal to perform the services required by a contract, without the prior approval of the employer, except in case of an emergency beyond the control of the employee.