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Ethics FAQs

  1. Under what authority does the Educator Ethics Division operate?
  2. How do I report an educator that has violated the Code of Ethics?
  3. Can I find out if an educator is being investigated?
  4. Can my school system report me for Abandonment of Contract if I resign?
  5. What do I need to report when I apply for certification?
  6. When should I answer "yes" to the question(s) pertaining to criminal activity on the GaPSC application for certification?
  7. When do I need to submit a FBI criminal history report?
  8. Where do I go to get a copy of my FBI criminal history report?
  9. What happens when someone is reported to the Educator Ethics Division?
  10. What kinds of disciplinary actions can the GaPSC take against an educator?
  11. Who is notified about final actions of the GaPSC?
  1. Under what authority does the Educator Ethics Division operate?

    O.C.G.A. §20-2-982 authorizes the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to investigate reports of specified criminal conduct, violations of professional or ethical codes of conduct, and violations of certain rules, regulations, and policies by school system educators; enforce the requirement that local school systems promptly report specified criminal conduct of school system educators to the Commission; and impose disciplinary action or a denial of a certificate against an educator.

    O.C.G.A. §20-2-984.1 charges the Georgia Professional Standards Commission with adopting standards of performance and a code of ethics for educators.

    The Georgia Professional Standards Commission is authorized to investigate written requests from a local board, the state board, or one or more individual residents of this state related to:

    • (1) Alleged violations by an educator of any law of this state pertaining to educators of the profession of education;
    • (2) Alleged violations by an educator of the code of ethics of the commission;
    • (3) Alleged violations by an educator of rules, regulations, or policies of the state board or the commission;
    • (4) Complaints alleging a failure by an educator to meet or comply with standards of performance of the commission or the state board; or
    • (5) Complaints alleging that an educator has been convicted of any felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude in the courts of this state or any other state, territory, or country or in the courts of the United States.


  2. How do I report an educator that has violated the Code of Ethics?

    Any resident of the state of Georgia may report criminal or unethical behavior by an educator to the GaPSC by submitting a signed request for investigation (complaint) in writing to:

    Ethics Division
    200 Piedmont Avenue SE
    Suite 1702, West Tower
    Atlanta, Georgia 30334-9032


    Complaints should include the name of the educator, where they reside or are employed, specific details of the allegations, and the name, address, and signature of the individual requesting the investigation. The following complaint forms may be used:General Complaint Form (.pdf), Abandonment of Contract Complaint Form (.pdf), or the Testing Violation Complaint Form (.pdf) (requires Adobe Reader).

    Certified educators are bound by the Code of Ethics for Educators to report criminal or unethical behavior of other educators. Educators should be aware of local policies and procedures and the chain of command for reporting these behaviors within their school system.

  3. Can I find out if an educator is being investigated?

    Yes, by contacting the Ethics Division. However, no information regarding a case can be released until the Commission issues a final order in a matter. The educator, the complainant and the educator's employer are notified in writing when an investigation has begun.

  4. Can my school system report me for Abandonment of Contract if I resign?

    A school system can report an educator at any time, but it does not always result in a sanction against the educator’s certificate. The Commission has decided that it would not sanction an educator for Abandonment of Contract if:

    • The Educator submits a letter of resignation prior to June 1st for the upcoming school year.
    • The Educator submits a letter of resignation with at least a two week notice after June 1st for the following reasons.
      • A documented personal health problem or family medical problem that requires the Educator’s full-time care and attention.
      • A documented spousal transfer and relocation out of a reasonable commuting distance of the contracted position.
      • A documented promotion within the field of education.


  5. What do I need to report when I apply for certification?

    Applications for certification require that an educator answer personal affirmation questions with a "yes" or "no" response, including:

    • Have you ever left an employment position (retired, resigned, been dismissed, terminated, non-renewed, or otherwise) while under investigation?
    • Are you the subject of an investigation involving sexual misconduct or physical harm to a child, a criminal act, or a violation of a profession’s laws, rules, standards, or code of ethics?
    • Have you ever had an adverse action (i.e. warning, reprimand, suspension, revocation, denial, voluntary surrender, disbarment) taken against any professional certificate, license, or permit issued by an agency other than the Georgia Georgia Professional Standards Commission?
    • For any felony or for any misdemeanor offense involving moral turpitude, have you ever:

      • Pled guilty;
      • Been granted first offender treatment without adjudication of guilt
      • Been found guilty;
      • Entered a plea of nolo contendere;
      • Pled guilty to a lesser offense;
      • Participated in a pre-trial diversion program;
      • Been found not guilty by reason of insanity; or
      • Been placed under a court order whereby an adjudication or sentence was withheld?

      Educators must answer these questions honestly. If an educator has previously reported criminal or unethical behavior and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission found "no probable cause" to take any action against the educator's certificate for that specific behavior, it does not need to be reported on subsequent applications for certification. Minor traffic violations (speeding, following too closely, improper lane change, etc.) and behavior occurring before age 17 does not need to be reported. Any misdemeanor offense that is not a crime of moral turpitude does not have to be reported.

  6. When should I answer “yes” to question # 4 on the GaPSC application for certification?

    If you have ever pled guilty, been found guilty, entered a plea of nolo contendere, been granted first offender treatment without adjudication of guilt, participated in a pre-trial diversion program or been placed under a court order whereby an adjudication or sentence was withheld for any felony or for any misdemeanor offense involving moral turpitude, you must answer “yes” to question four. An educator that falsifies information on the application will be subject to an investigation and disciplinary action by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

  7. When do I need to submit a FBI criminal history report?

    If you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude in another state, you must submit an FBI criminal history report with your application for certification.

  8. Where do I go to get a copy of my FBI criminal history report?

    This report may be obtained from the school system where you are employed or by going to a cogent site for fingerprinting. Please notify the GaPSC that you have submitted the necessary information to obtain the FBI report.

  9. What happens when someone is reported to the Educator Ethics Division?

    When a complaint is received, the GaPSC determines whether an investigation is warranted. If the GaPSC votes to investigate, the matter is assigned to an Educator Ethics investigator. At the completion of the investigation, the facts of the case are presented to the Commission to determine if probable cause exists to take disciplinary action against the educator.

    If probable cause exists, the educator is sent a letter of notification explaining that he/she may consent to the proposed sanction or request a hearing. If a hearing is requested, an administrative law judge will hear the case and make an initial decision either concurring or modifying the proposed sanction. If neither the educator nor the GaPSC requests a review of the judge's decision, the Commission adopts it as a final disciplinary action.

  10. What kinds of disciplinary actions can the GaPSC take against an educator?

    The GaPSC can impose a warning, reprimand, suspension, revocation or denial.

  11. Who is notified about final actions of the GaPSC?

    When the GaPSC takes a final disciplinary action involving a sanction, all information contained in the case file is subject to Open Records Requests. The GaPSC makes all final decisions available to all school system personnel directors, RESA directors, Georgia college/university deans, and certification officials. All suspensions, revocations and denials are reported to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). This information is shared with other states and NASDTEC members.