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Georgia Professional Standards Commission. The Code of Ethics for Georgia Educators 2013-2014. Professional Standards Commission. Certification Educator Preparation Ethics. Legal Authority of the PSC Ethics Division. 20-2-984.1. Adoption of a Code of Ethics.

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Georgia Professional Standards Commission

The Code of Ethics for Georgia Educators 2013-2014

Professional Standards Commission


Educator Preparation


Legal Authority of the PSC Ethics Division

20-2-984.1. Adoption of a Code of Ethics.

 It shall be the duty of the commission to adoptstandards of performance and a code of ethics for educators…which are generally accepted by educators of this state.

Code of Ethics

Code of “Common Sense”

20-2-984.1. Adoption of a Code of Ethics.

The standards of performance and code of ethics adopted by the commission shall be limited to professional performance and professional ethics.

The PSC does not care what you do in you personal lives as long as it does not carryover into your professional lives.

Definition of Educator

20-2-982.1.(2)"Educator"means education personnel who hold, have applied for, or been denied certificates, permits, or other certification documents issued by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.  

Legal Compliance

Standard 1

Standard 1

An educator shall abide by federal, state, and local laws and statutes.

Legal Compliance

Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to the commission or conviction of:

a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude.

any criminal offense involving a controlled substance or marijuana.

any sexual offense specified in Code Section 16.

any laws applicable to the profession.

Standard #1 Legal Compliance

  • The Educator admits to being arrested for theft by shoplifting. The Educator was sentenced to 6 months probation, a fine, and 40 hours of community service.

  • Suspended

Standard #1 Legal Compliance

  • Educator was arrested and charged with writing bad checks. She entered a guilty plea, forfeited a cash bond, and paid her fine.

  • Reprimand

Standard #1 Legal Compliance

  • Five marijuana plants and a small amount of processed marijuana were located at the Educator’s home and vehicle. The Educator was subsequently charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The Educator entered a plea of not guilty. The criminal case is still pending.

  • Suspension

Conduct with Students

Standard 2

An educator shall always maintain a professional relationship with all students, both in and outside the classroom.

A student isanyone under the age of 18.

OR, a student enrolled in grades Pre-K to 12 in a public or private school.

For the purposes of the Code of Ethics, the enrollment period for a graduating student ends on August 31 of the year of graduation.


Sexual Abuse of Students

Young people instinctively recognize these boundary violations and often nickname the employee engaged in such violations a “pervert,” based on their perceived sense of inappropriateness.

Mary Jo McGrath

Sexual Relationship with Students

  • O. C.G. A.--16-6-5.1

  • Person who has supervisory or disciplinary authority over a student who engages in sexual contact with students…

  • New thing in Georgia

Sexual Relationship with Student


  • Jail time

  • Age 16-not less than one year nor more than 25 years in jail or a fine not to exceed $100,000 or both

  • Under the age of 16-not less than 25 years nor more than 50 years in jail

20-2-751.7 (a)

  • The PSC shall establish a state mandated process for students to follow in reporting instances of alleged inappropriate behavior by a teacher, administrator or any other school employee

  • Shall include these processes in the student handbook and in employee handbook

  • Any teacher, counselor, or administrator receiving a report or sexual misconduct shall submit a written report in 24 hours

Standard #2 Conduct With Students

  • The Educator was employed as an elementary school teacher. It was reported that she was dating a student who was in high school. At age 18 the student dropped out of high school, proposed to the teacher, and married her.

  • Revoke

Standard #2 Conduct With Students

  • Witnesses from faculty reported that student frequently visits Educator’s classroom before and after school. Educator’s husband found a phone that contained messages expressing love as well as sexual desires. Examination of phone records revealed more than 1700 text messages and 141 phone calls in a period of 26 days. Both denied being romantically involved.

  • Revoked

Social Networking

  • Use Facebook, Twitter, and other communications on a professional level

  • Notify administration of your plans and always copy them

  • Should student communicate inappropriately, notify your supervisor immediately

Student Relationship Guidelines


Phone Calls

Be Friendly, Not a Friend.



Inappropriate Jokes


Choose Appropriate Settings

Student Relationship Guidelines




Dark Room

Alcohol or Drugs

Standard 3

Standard 3

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:

being on school premises or at a school-related activity while under the influence of, possessing, using, or consuming illegal or unauthorized drugs;

Illegal and Unauthorized Drugsare Always Illegal and Unauthorized.

Standard #3 Drugs and Alcohol

  • The school was placed on lock down during an unannounced law enforcement search of the school premises. The principal observed an Educator out of class in the faculty parking lot throwing an object over the fence. A sheriff’s deputy retrieved the object-a glass pipe and found a small amount of marijuana in Educator’s car.

  • Suspension

Standard #3 Drugs and Alcohol

  • During a school day, two students reported to the SRO they smelled alcohol on the Educator’s breath. Educator told principal she had alcohol the night before. The principal drove Educator to medical testing facility where she took a breathalyzer and registered .13 and the confirmation test read .12

  • Suspension


Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:

being on school premises or at a school-related activityinvolving students while under the influence of, possessing, or consuming alcoholic beverages.

20-2-984.1. The … code of ethics …shall be limited toprofessional performance and professional ethics.


Standard 4

Standard 4

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:

professional qualifications, criminal history, college or staff development credit and/or degrees, academic award, and employment history;


Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to, falsifying, misrepresenting, or omitting:

information submitted to federal, state, local school districts and other governmental agencies;


Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to, falsifying, misrepresenting, or omitting:

3.information regarding the evaluation of students and/or personnel;


Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to,falsifying, misrepresenting, or omitting:

reasons for absences or leaves;


Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to,falsifying, misrepresenting, or omitting:

5.information submitted in the course of an official inquiry/investigation; and


Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to,falsifying, misrepresenting, or omitting:

6.information submitted in the course of professional practice.

Standard #4 Honesty

  • The Case Manager prepared and laid out two student IEP meeting participant signature pages on a table and invited Educators to come by and sign without an IEP meeting held for either student. Both student IEP meeting invitations listed the same date, time, and location.

  • Case Manager-suspended

  • Teachers signing IEP-suspended

Standard #4 Honesty

  • The Educator signed her principal’s name to a chorus registration form without his permission and faxed the form to the registration office for a state competition.

  • Suspension

Public Funds & Property

Standard 5

Standard 5

An educator entrusted with public funds and property shall honor that trust with a high level of honesty, accuracy, and responsibility.

Public Funds & Property

Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:

misusing public or school-related funds;

failing to account for funds collected from students or parents;

submitting fraudulent requests or documentation for reimbursement of expenses or for pay;

co-mingling public or school-related funds with personal funds or checking accounts; and

using school property without the approval of the local board of education/governing board or authorized designee.

Standard #5 Public Funds and Property

  • Educator collected funds from parents, staff, and students for a fundraiser to support a local charity. The school system had specific guidelines regarding the collection of funds but the Educator did not follow the guidelines. Records indicate that $1017 was collected and only $440.92 was delivered to the charity. The Educator said the ledger was inaccurate because he allowed students to attend who did not pay

  • Suspension

Standard #5 Public Funds and Property

  • The Educator was issued an Ipad for use as an AP. Educator admitted downloading software to bypass firewalls and downloading applications without paying for them. He accessed pornographic sites in violation of the Acceptable Use policy

  • Suspension

Remunerative Conduct

Standard 6

Standard 6

An educator shall maintain integrity with students, colleagues, parents, patrons, or businesses when accepting gifts, gratuities, favors, and additional compensation.

Standard #6 Remunerative Conduct

  • The Educator admits having offered to let students sell Girl Scout cookies in exchange for students to earn extra credit or to be excused from some class work. Educator stated that no one actually received extra credit or reduced work because the principal found out and directed her to return any money collected

  • Suspension

Standard # 6 Remunerative Conduct

  • A coach worked to improve the skills of several baseball players on an individual basis who attended the high school where he taught. The parents paid him for the hours he worked on Saturdays.

  • Suspension

Confidential Information

Standard 7

Standard 7

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.

Confidential Information

Annual performance evaluation records of school personnel

  • Health services provided to an insured

  • Individual student performance data, information and reports

  • School records of students with disabilities

  • A student's education record

Standard # 7 Confidential Information

  • An Educator admits she gave her computer password to a student and allowed the student to record grades into the software system on numerous occasions

  • Suspension

Abandonment of Contract

Standard 8

An educator shall fulfill all of the terms and obligations detailed in the contract with the local board of education or education agency for the duration of the contract.

Abandonment of Contract

  • The PSC expects educators to honor their contracts.

  • The PSC has identified circumstances that warrant educators leaving their contracted positions without a release.

  • Educators are expected to make every effort to minimize the effect on the students experiencing the loss.

Standard #8 Abandonment of Contract

  • The Educator signed a contract to work for the 2012-2013 school year. In November, the Educator submitted her resignation, effective the same day. The School System HR informed the Educator that she would be released as soon as a suitable replacement could be found. The Educator left that day anyhow.

  • Suspension

Required Reports

Standard 9

An educator shall file reports of a breach of one or more of the standards in the Code of Ethics for Educators, child abuse, or any other required report.

O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5

‘Child abuse’ includes the following conduct by a child’s parent or caretaker:

  • Physical injury or death(by other than accidental means)

  • Neglect or exploitation of a child

  • Sexual abuse - an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification ...

  • Sexual exploitation - allows, permits, encourages, or requires a child to engage in prostitution or sexually explicit conduct ….


Any employee of a public or private elementary or secondary school ... who has reasonable cause to believe that a student at that school has committed any of the following acts upon school property or at any school function, shall immediately report the act and the name of the student to the principal or the principal's designee.

Aggravated assault involving a firearm;

Aggravated battery;

Sexual offenses;

Carrying a deadly weapons at public gatherings;

Carrying weapons at school;

Illegal possession of a pistol or revolver by a person under 18

Possession or any use of marijuana and controlled substances,

The principal ... shall make an oral report thereof immediately by telephone or otherwise to the appropriate school system superintendent and to the appropriate police authority and district attorney.

Any person who fails to make a report shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Standard # 9 Required Reports

  • The Educator admitted not reporting abuse that was divulged by a student. Reportedly, the physical abuse was occurring at the home of the student. The Educator told the student to talk with the family members about the problem.

  • Suspension

Standard # 9 Required Reports

  • The Educator admitted that a teacher brought a kindergarten student with disabilities to her who had bruises on both arms. The Educator told the teacher to send a note home to the parents. The incident was not reported to DFACS.

  • Suspension

Professional Conduct

Standard 10

Standard 10

An educator shall demonstrate conduct that follows generally recognized professional standards and preserves the dignity and integrity of the teaching profession.

Standard #10 Professional Conduct

  • The Educator made inappropriate racial slurs to a student of bi-racial ethnicity

  • Suspended

  • The Educator admitted that he engaged in sexual intercourse with a co-worker in an office at the school in which they both worked. The encounter was after school hours when no students were present

  • Suspension


Standard 11

Standard 11

An educator shall administer state mandated assessments fairly and ethically.

Georgia Not Only State With Questionable Test Scores

Nationwide Problem

  • Over 196 of the largest 3,125 school systems in the United States has suspect test score improvement

  • Odds of obtaining these reported results by chance alone is over 1000 to 1

  • In 33 of these school systems, the odds were worse than 1,000,000 to 1


  • United States spends $760,000,000 a year on testing required by NCLB

  • States are left to their own in monitoring the testing

  • Most states do not have resources to conduct investigations of this magnitude

  • One graduate student, in her dissertation, surveyed teachers in her state and found that 50% of teachers either had cheated or knew a colleague who had cheated

With a good testing program:

  • Students know the skills and knowledge they have mastered and how they compare to others.

  • Parents can evaluate whether their children are obtaining the skills and knowledge they need.

  • Teachers can determine if students have mastered the skills and knowledge needed to advance to the next level.

  • Community members have a measuring stick for student performance.

Major Testing Violations

  • Breach of Test Security

  • Fail to provide or attend training

  • Fail to follow directions specified in the manual

  • Coach, prompt, alter or provide answers to students during the test

  • Interpret, explain, or paraphrase test items

  • Copy or take notes on test items

Standard # 11 Testing

  • A test proctor stated the Educator provided the students with clarifying information and a word definition during CRCT. Educator admitted she paraphrased 2 CRCT questions and defined one word in order to calm an unruly student

  • Suspension

Standard # 11

  • The Educator submitted a GAA portfolio with photographic documentation of test activities on two different dates. Two photographs dated on the same day had the same students in different clothes and one student had long hair in one photograph and short hair in the other photograph.

  • Suspension

Teacher’s Role

  • Attend training

  • Ensures security of test booklets before, during, and after testing

  • Follow directions

  • Arrange seats to promote individual work

  • Circulate about the classroom to prevent cheating and other violations

  • Be familiar with allowable student accommodations

  • Account for all testing materials

Lessons Learned

  • Establish an environment conducive to student learning and test score improvement

  • Require training for all participants with similar information and format at all training sessions

  • Require available staff to monitor during testing

  • Test security is paramount

Lessons Learned

  • Investigate all allegations and complaints thoroughly - consider involvement of outside investigators

  • Large increases in student test scores are a red flag

  • Having knowledge of testing violations and failing to report jeopardizes teaching certificate

  • Superintendents, Principals, and Test Coordinators are ultimately responsible

Other Grounds for Disciplinary Action against a Certificate

Other Grounds for Disciplinary Action:

Disciplinary action against a certificate in another state on grounds consistent with those specified in the Code of Ethics for Educators.

Order from a court or a request from DHR that a certificate be suspended or denied for non-payment of child support.

Other Grounds for Disciplinary Action:

Suspension or revocation of any professional license or certificate.

Violation of laws and rules applicable to the profession.

Any other good and sufficient cause that renders an educator unfit for employment as an educator.

Enforcing Sanctions

The superintendent and the superintendent’s designee for certification 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.

Year Denied Revoked Voluntary Total Surrender

FY 200115581487

FY 200220441680

FY 2003316221114

FY 2004265720103

FY 2005259322140

FY 2006427217131

FY 2007237626125

FY 2008335416103

FY 2009257127123

FY 2010136728108

FY 201118582096

FY 2012189225135

FY 2013148628128

Sanctions-June, 2012-June 2013

  • Legal compliance-36

  • Conduct with Students-65

  • Alcohol and Drugs-23

  • Honesty-95

  • Public Funds and Property-25

  • Remunerative Conduct-1

  • Confidential Information-2


  • Abandonment of Contract-5

  • Required Reports-26

  • Professional Conduct-32

  • Testing-120

  • Total-430

Regional Ethics Case Rates

Number of Certified Educators based on 2011 System Report Card, Georgia Department of Education


  • Take testing seriously

  • Be friendly to the students—you are not their friend but their supervisor and role model

  • Honesty and Integrity are important

  • Educators are held to higher standards

  • Educators are mandated reporters if they are aware of violations of Code of Ethics

Contact Information

  • Paul A. Shaw


  • Phone #-404-232-2635

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