Educators shouldn’t take standards violation lightly

Teacher in front of classroom.jpeg

It’s a list that every teacher should commit to memory, one that’s as important as the ABCs are to a young student.

It’s the Code of Ethics for Educators, and here’s what it does:

“... defines the professional behavior of educators in Georgia and serves as a guide to ethical conduct ... 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.”

For a Georgia teacher, what may seem like an innocuous incident could be a career-destroying charge. 

If, following an investigation, you receive a recommended sanction from the Commission for an alleged ethical standards’ violation, “it’s  often worth it to take it to the next stage and request a hearing,” says Bettina Davies, an attorney at Cauthorn Nohr & Owen and a network attorney for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators for more than 20 years. “While the Commission may initially recommend a period of suspension, you might  be able to negotiate a reprimand, or a warning, or even an outright case dismissal.”.”

Here are two important points for educators to keep in mind related to the Code of Ethics:

Always be truthful on applications.

Dishonesty on applications and similar type forms is taken seriously by the Commission. Often the dishonesty or omission of information is sanctioned more harshly than the underlying act/event not disclosed.

Take recommended certificate sanctions seriously.

A sanction on your teaching certificate can greatly impair your future job prospects. If you receive a suspension or a revocation from the Commission, your name and sanction is submitted to a national list or Clearinghouse run by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification [“NASDTEC”]. The NASDTEC is a centralized system for tracking teacher discipline.   


“Without legal guidance, you may be inclined to accept a recommended sanction without any review,” says Ms. Davies. “That’s rarely in your best interest. In many cases, the best move is to request a hearing.”

Here is a summary of the Code of Ethics. You can read the full description here.

●      Standard 1: Legal Compliance - Educators must abide by all federal, state and local laws.

●      Standard 2: Conduct with Students - Educators must maintain a professional relationship with students in and outside of the classroom.

●      Standard 3: Alcohol or Drugs - Educator shall refrain from the use of alcohol or illegal/unauthorized drugs while employed by the school system.

●      Standard 4: Honesty - Educators should exemplify honesty and integrity while employed by the school system.

●      Standard 5: Public Funds and Property - Educators shall not misuse public or school related funds or use school property for personal use.

●      Standard 6: Remunerative Conduct - Educators will maintain integrity with students, parents, businesses, etc. when accepting gifts, gratuities or additional compensation.

●      Standard 7: Confidential Information - Educators will comply with state and federal laws and policies relating to student confidentiality.

●      Standard 8: Required Reports - Educators are required to report within 90 days any breach of the standards they experience or observe.

●      Standard 9: Professional Conduct - Educators will conduct themselves professionally and with dignity and integrity.

●      Standard 10: Testing - Educators will administer state-mandated assessments fairly and ethically.