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Alabama Educator Code of Ethics

Alabama Educator Code of Ethics

AlabamaEducator Code of Ethics

Introduction

The primary goal of every educator in the state of Alabama must, at all times, be to provide an environment in which all students can learn. In order to accomplish that goal, educators must value the worth and dignity of every person, must have a devotion to excellence in all matters, must actively support the pursuit of knowledge, and must fully participate in the nurturance of a democratic citizenry. To do so requires an adherence to a high ethical standard.

The Alabama Educator Code of Ethics defines the professional behavior of educators in Alabama and serves as a guide to ethical conduct. The code protects the health, safety and general welfare of students and educators; outlines objective standards of conduct for professional educators; and clearly defines actions of an unethical nature for which disciplinary sanctions are justified.

Code of Ethics Standards

Standard 1: Professional Conduct

An educator should demonstrate conduct that follows generally recognized professional standards.

Ethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Encouraging and supporting colleagues in the development and maintenance of high standards.
  • Respecting fellow educators and participating in the development of a professional and supportive teaching environment.
  • Engaging in a variety of individual and collaborative learning experiences essential to developing professionally in order to promote student learning.

Unethical conduct is any conduct that impairs the certificate holder's ability to function in his or her employment position or a pattern of behavior that is detrimental to the health, welfare, discipline, or morals of students. Unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Harassment of colleagues.
  • Misuse or mismanagement of tests or test materials.
  • Inappropriate language on school grounds.
  • Physical altercations.
  • Failure to provide appropriate supervision of students.

Standard 2: Trustworthiness

An educator should exemplify honesty and integrity in the course of professional practice.

Ethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Properly representing facts concerning an educational matter in direct or indirect public expression.
  • Advocating for fair and equitable opportunities for all children.
  • Embodying for students the characteristics of intellectual honesty, diplomacy, tact, and fairness.

Unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting professional qualifications, criminal record, or employment history when applying for employment or certification.
  • Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting information submitted to federal, state, and/or other governmental agencies.
  • Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting information regarding the evaluation of students and/or personnel.
  • Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting reasons for absences or leaves.
  • Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting information submitted in the course of an official inquiry or investigation.

Standard 3: Unlawful Acts

An educator should 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. 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 or a situation where first offender treatment without adjudication of guilt pursuant to the charge was granted.

Standard 4: Teacher/Student Relationship

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

Ethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Fulfilling the roles of trusted confidante, mentor, and advocate for students' growth.
  • Nurturing the intellectual, physical, emotional, social, and civic potential of all students.
  • Providing an environment that does not needlessly expose students to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.
  • Creating, supporting, and maintaining a challenging learning environment for all students.

Unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Committing any act of child abuse, including physical or verbal abuse.
  • Committing any act of cruelty to children or any act of child endangerment.
  • Committing or soliciting any unlawful sexual act.
  • Engaging in harassing behavior on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion, or disability.
  • Soliciting, encouraging, or consummating an inappropriate written, verbal, or physical relationship with a student.
  • Furnishing tobacco, alcohol, or illegal/unauthorized drugs to any student or allowing a student to consume alcohol or illegal/unauthorized drugs.

Standard 5: Alcohol, Drug and Tobacco Use or Possession

An educator should refrain from the use of alcohol and/or tobacco during the course of professional practice and should never use illegal or unauthorized drugs.

Ethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Factually representing the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug use and abuse to students during the course of professional practice.

 Unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Being under the influence of, possessing, using, or consuming illegal or unauthorized drugs.
  • Being on school premises or at a school-related activity involving students while documented as being under the influence of, possessing, or consuming alcoholic beverages or using tobacco. A school-related activity includes, but is not limited to, any activity that is sponsored by a school or a school system or any activity designed to enhance the school curriculum such as club trips, etc., where students are involved.

 Standard 6: Public Funds and Property

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

Ethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Maximizing the positive effect of school funds through judicious use of said funds.
  • Modeling for students and colleagues the responsible use of public property.

 Unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Misusing public or school-related funds.
  • Failing to account for funds collected from students or parents.
  • Submitting fraudulent requests for reimbursement of expenses or for pay.
  • Co-mingling public or school-related funds with personal funds or checking accounts.
  • Using school property without the approval of the local board of education/governing body.

 Standard 7: Remunerative Conduct

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

 Ethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Insuring that institutional privileges are not used for personal gain.
  • Insuring that school policies or procedures are not impacted by gifts or gratuities from any person or organization.

 Unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Soliciting students or parents of students to purchase equipment, supplies, or services from the educator or to participate in activities that financially benefit the educator unless approved by the local governing body.
  • Accepting gifts from vendors or potential vendors for personal use or gain where there appears to be a conflict of interest.
  • Tutoring students assigned to the educator for remuneration unless approved by the local board of education.

 Standard 8: Maintenance of Confidentiality

An educator should comply with state and federal laws and local school board policies relating to confidentiality of student and personnel records, standardized test material, and other information covered by confidentiality agreements.

Ethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Keeping in confidence information about students that has been obtained in the course of professional service unless disclosure serves professional purposes or is required by law.
  • Maintaining diligently the security of standardized test supplies and resources.

 Unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Sharing confidential information concerning student academic and disciplinary records, health and medical information, family status/income, and assessment/testing results unless disclosure is required or permitted by law.
  • Violating confidentiality agreements related to standardized testing including copying or teaching identified test items, publishing or distributing test items or answers, discussing test items, and violating local school system or state directions for the use of tests or test items.
  • Violating other confidentiality agreements required by state or local policy.

 Standard 9: Abandonment of Contract

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

Unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Abandoning the contract for professional services without prior release from the contract by the employer;
  • Refusing to perform services required by the contract.

 Reporting

Educators are required to report a breach of one or more of the Standards in the Alabama Educator Code of Ethics as soon as possible, but no later than sixty(60) days from the date the educator became aware of the alleged breach, unless the law or local procedures require reporting sooner. Educators should be aware of their local school board policies and procedures and/or chain of command for reporting unethical conduct. Complaints filed with the local or state school boards, or with the State Department of Education Teacher Certification Section, must be filed in writing and must include the original signature of the complainant.

Alabama Administrative Code 290-3-2-.05

(1)-5-c Each Superintendent shall submit to the State Superintendent of Education within ten calendar days of the decision, the name and social security number of each employee holding an Alabama certificate or license who is terminated, or nonrenewed, resigns, or is placed on administrative leave for cause, and shall indicate the reason for such action.

Disciplinary Action

Disciplinary action shall be defined as the issuance of a reprimand or warning, or the suspension, revocation, or denial of certificates. "Certificate" refers to any teaching, service, or leadership certificate issued by the authority of the Alabama State Department of Education.

Alabama Administrative Code 290-3-2-.05

  • (1) Authority of the State Superintendent of Education
  • (a) The Superintendent shall have the authority under existing legal standards to:
  • 1. Revoke any certificate held by a person who has been proven guilty of immoral conduct or unbecoming or indecent behavior in Alabama or any other state or nation in accordance with Ala. Code §16-23-5 (1975).
  • 2. Refuse to issue a certificate to an applicant whose certificate has been subject to adverse action by another state until after the adverse action has been resolved by that state.
  • 3. Suspend or revoke an individual's certificate issued by the Superintendent when a certificate or license issued by another state is subject to adverse action.
  • 4. Refuse to issue, suspend, or recall a certificate for just cause.

Any of the following grounds shall also be considered cause for disciplinary action:

  • Unethical conduct as outlined in the Alabama Educator Code of Ethics, Standards 1-9.
  • Order from a court of competent jurisdiction.
  • Violation of any other laws or rules applicable to the profession.
  • Any other good and sufficient cause.

An individual whose certificate has been revoked, denied, or suspended may not be employed as an educator, paraprofessional, aide, or substitute teacher during the period of his or her revocation, suspension, or denial.