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Pennsylvania Code of Conduct


 Section 1.  Mission

The Professional Standards and Practices Commission is committed to providing
leadership for improving the quality of education in this Commonwealth by
establishing high standards for preparation, certification, practice and
ethical conduct in the teaching profession. 

Section 2.  Introduction

(a) Professional conduct defines interactions between the individual
educator and students, the employing agencies and other professionals.
Generally, the responsibility for professional conduct rests with the
individual professional educator. However, in this Commonwealth, a Code of
Professional Practice and Conduct (Code) for certificated educators is required by
statute and violation of specified sections of the Code may constitute a basis for
public or private reprimand. Violations of the Code may also be used as supporting
evidence, though may not constitute an independent basis, for the suspension or
revocation of a certificate. The Professional Standards and Practices
Commission (PSPC) was charged by the act of December 12, 1973 (P. L. 397, No.
141) (24 P. S. § § 12-1251—12-1268), known as the Teacher Certification Law,
with adopting a Code by July 1, 1991. See 24 P. S. § 12-1255(a)(10). 
(b) This chapter makes explicit the values of the education profession. When
individuals become educators in this Commonwealth, they make a moral
commitment to uphold these values.  

Section 3.  Purpose

(a) Professional educators in this Commonwealth believe that the quality of
their services directly influences the Nation and its citizens. Professional
educators recognize their obligation to provide services and to conduct
themselves in a manner which places the highest esteem on human rights and
dignity. Professional educators seek to ensure that every student receives the
highest quality of service and that every professional maintains a high level of
competence from entry through ongoing professional development. Professional
educators are responsible for the development of sound educational policy
and obligated to implement that policy and its programs to the public. 
(b) Professional educators recognize their primary responsibility to the student and
the development of the student’s potential. Central to that development is the
professional educator’s valuing the worth and dignity of every person, student and
colleague alike; the pursuit of truth; devotion to excellence; acquisition of
knowledge; and democratic principles. To
those ends, the educator engages in continuing professional development and
keeps current with research and technology. Educators encourage and
support the use of resources that best serve the interests and needs of students.
Within the context of professional excellence, the educator and student
together explore the challenge and the dignity of the human experience. 

 Section 4.  Practices

 (a) Professional practices are behaviors and attitudes that are based on a set of
values that the professional education community believes and accepts. These
values are evidenced by the professional educator’s conduct toward students and
colleagues, and the educator’s employer and community. When teacher candidates
become professional educators in this Commonwealth, they are expected to
abide by this section.  (b) Professional educators are expected
to abide by the following:  (1) Professional educators shall abide by
the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § § 1-101—27-2702), other school laws of
the Commonwealth, sections 1201(a)(1), (2) and (4) and (b)(1), (2) and (4) of the
Public Employe Relations Act (43 P. S. § § 1101.1201(a)(1), (2) and (4) and (b)(1),
(2) and (4)) and this chapter.  (2) Professional educators shall be
prepared, and legally certified, in their areas of assignment. Educators may not
be assigned or willingly accept assignments they are not certified to fulfill.
Educators may be assigned to or accept assignments outside their certification
area on a temporary, short-term, emergency basis. Examples: a teacher
certified in English filling in a class period for a physical education teacher who has
that day become ill; a substitute teacher certified in elementary education
employed as a librarian for several days until the district can locate and employ a
permanent substitute teacher certified in library science. 
(3) Professional educators shall maintain high levels of competence throughout
their careers.  (4) Professional educators shall exhibit
consistent and equitable treatment of students, fellow educators and parents.
They shall respect the civil rights of all and not discriminate on the basis of race,
national or ethnic origin, culture, religion, sex or sexual orientation, marital status,
age, political beliefs, socioeconomic status, disabling condition or vocational
interest. This list of bases or discrimination is not all-inclusive. 
(5) Professional educators shall accept the value of diversity in educational
practice. Diversity requires educators to have a range of methodologies and to
request the necessary tools for effective teaching and learning. 
(6) Professional educators shall impart to their students principles of good
citizenship and societal responsibility.  (7) Professional educators shall exhibit
acceptable and professional language and communication skills. Their verbal and written communications with parents, students and staff shall reflect sensitivity
to the fundamental human rights of dignity, privacy and respect. 
(8) Professional educators shall be open-minded, knowledgeable and use
appropriate judgment and communication skills when responding to an issue within
the educational environment.  (9) Professional educators shall keep in
confidence information obtained in confidence in the course of professional
service unless required to be disclosed by law or by clear and compelling
professional necessity as determined by the professional educator. 
(10) Professional educators shall exert reasonable effort to protect the student
from conditions which interfere with learning or are harmful to the student’s
health and safety.  

Section 5.  Conduct

Individual professional conduct reflects upon the practices, values, integrity and
reputation of the profession. Violation of § § 235.6—235.11 may constitute an
independent basis for private or public reprimand, and may be used as
supporting evidence in cases of certification suspension and revocation. 

Section 6.  Legal obligations

(a) The professional educator may not engage in conduct prohibited by the
act of December 12, 1973 (P. L. 397, No. 141) (24 P. S. § § 12-1251—12-
1268), known as the Teacher Certification Law. 
(b) The professional educator may not engage in conduct prohibited by: 
(1) The Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § § 1-101—27-2702) and other laws
relating to the schools or the education of children. 
(2) The applicable laws of the Commonwealth establishing ethics of
public officials and public employes, including the act of October 4, 1978 (P. L.
883, No. 170) (65 P. S. § § 401—413), known as the Public Official and
Employee Ethics Law.  (c) Violation of subsection (b) shall have
been found to exist by an agency of proper jurisdiction to be considered an
independent basis for discipline. 

Section 7.  Certification

The professional educator may not:  (1) Accept employment, when not properly
certificated, in a position for which certification is required. 
(2) Assist entry into or continuance in the education profession of an unqualified
person.  (3) Employ, or recommend for
employment, a person who is not certificated appropriately for the position.

Section 8.  Civil Rights

The professional educator may not:  (1) Discriminate on the basis of race,
National or ethnic origin, culture, religion, sex or sexual orientation, marital status,
age, political beliefs, socioeconomic
status; disabling condition or vocational interest against a student or fellow
professional. This list of bases of discrimination is not all-inclusive. This
discrimination shall be found to exist by an agency of proper jurisdiction to be
considered an independent basis for discipline. 
(2) Interfere with a student’s or colleague’s exercise of political and civil
rights and responsibilities.  

Section 9.  Improper personal or financial gain

The professional educator may not: (1) Accept gratuities, gifts or favors that
might impair or appear to impair professional judgment. 
(2) Exploit a professional relationship for personal gain or advantage.

Section 10.  Relationships with students

The professional educator may not:  (1) Knowingly and intentionally distort or
misrepresent evaluations of students.  (2) Knowingly and intentionally
misrepresent subject matter or curriculum.  (3) Sexually harass or engage in sexual
relationships with students.  (4) Knowingly and intentionally withhold
evidence from the proper authorities about violations of the legal obligations as
defined within this section.  

Section 11.  Professional

The professional educator may not:  (1) Knowingly and intentionally deny or
impede a colleague in the exercise or enjoyment of a professional right or
privilege in being an educator.  (2) Knowingly and intentionally distort
evaluations of colleagues.  (3) Sexually harass a fellow employe. 
(4) Use coercive means or promise special treatment to influence professional
decisions of colleagues.  (5) Threaten, coerce or discriminate
against a colleague who in good faith reports or discloses to a governing agency
actual or suspected violations of law, agency regulations or standards.
 The Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators can be found at 22 Pa. Code §§235.1 - 235.11.
 All questions should be directed to the Professional Standards and Practices Commission at (717) 787-6576.