- Under what authority does the Educator Ethics Division operate?
- How does someone report an educator that has violated the Code of Ethics?
- How can a private citizen or school system find out if an educator is being investigated?
- Can a school system report an educator if they resign?
- When applying for certification, what does an educator need to report?
- When should an educator answer "yes" to the criminal history question on the GaPSC application for certification?
- When does an educator need to submit an FBI criminal history report?
- Where can an educator receive a copy of their FBI criminal history report?
- What happens when an educator is reported to the Educator Ethics Division?
- What kinds of disciplinary actions can the GaPSC take against an educator?
- 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 states the purposes of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission as:
to adopt standards of professional performance and a code of professional ethics for educators;
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.
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. §20-2-984.3, 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:
- Alleged violations by an educator of any law of this state pertaining to educators or the
profession of education;
- Alleged violations by an educator of the code of ethics of the commission;
- Alleged violations by an educator of rules, regulations, or policies of the state board or
- Complaints alleging a failure by an educator to meet or comply with standards of performance
of the commission or the state board; or
- Complaints alleging that an educator has been convicted of any felony, of any crime involving
moral turpitude, of any other criminal offense involving the manufacture, distribution, trafficking,
sale, or possession of a controlled substance or marijuana as provided for in Chapter 13 of Title 16,
or of any other sexual offense as provided for in Code Sections 16-6-1 through 16-6-17, or Code
Section 16-6-20, 16-6-22.2, or 16-12-100, in the courts of this state or any other state, territory,
or country or in the courts of the United States. As used in this paragraph, the term “convicted”
shall include a finding or verdict of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere, regardless of whether an
appeal of the conviction has been sought; a situation where first offender treatment without
adjudication of guilt pursuant to the charge was granted; and a situation where an adjudication of
guilt or sentence was otherwise withheld or not entered on the charge or the charge was otherwise
disposed of in a similar manner in any jurisdiction.
2. How does someone 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 Georgia
Professional Standards Commission by completing the following:
Complete all areas of the
General Complaint Form.
Be sure to include the educator’s full name, school district, and school location or program.
Briefly describe the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics for Educators or the reason for your complaint.
Include dates and times of alleged violation.
If applicable, attach supporting documentation including the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any
potential witnesses, if known.
Mail or fax the completed forms to the Educator Ethics Division at the address or fax number given on the
bottom of the form.
The Code of Ethics for Educators obligates certified educators to report alleged or proven criminal or unethical
behavior of other educators. Educators should be aware of local policies and procedures, as well as the chain
of command for reporting these behaviors within their school system.
3. How can a private citizen or school system find out if an educator is being investigated?
A school system and the public can contact the Ethics Division to confirm an investigation. However, no
details regarding a case can be released until the matter is closed. The educator, the complainant, and the
educator's employer are notified in writing when an investigation has begun.
4. Can a school system report an educator if they resign?
A school system can report an educator at any time, but it does not always result in disciplinary action
against the educator’s certificate. The Commission has decided it would not sanction an educator for
Breach of Contract if:
- The Educator submits a letter of resignation prior to June 1st for the upcoming school year; or
- 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 prevents the Educator from performing his/her duties,
- A recent documented spousal transfer and relocation out of a reasonable commuting distance of the contracted position, or
- A documented promotion within the field of education.
5. When applying for certification, what does an educator need to report?
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 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?
An educator must answer these questions honestly. If an educator has previously reported criminal or
unethical behavior and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission investigated 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 for
which you were charged as a juvenile do not need to be reported. Except for misdemeanor drug offenses,
any misdemeanor offense that is not a crime of moral turpitude does not have to be reported.
6. When should an educator answer “yes” to the criminal history question on the GaPSC application for certification?
An educator must answer “yes” to the criminal history question(s) if they 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 drug offense, for any felony, or for any misdemeanor offense involving
moral turpitude. An educator who falsifies information on the application will be subject to an
investigation and disciplinary action by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
7. When does an educator need to submit an FBI criminal history report?
If an educator has been convicted of a drug charge, a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude in another
state, they must submit an FBI criminal history report with their application for certification. An educator must
also submit an FBI criminal history report if they are petitioning for the right to reapply and their original
case involved criminal activity or they have resided in another state since their certificate was denied/revoked.
8. Where can an educator receive a copy of their FBI criminal history report?
This report may be obtained from the school system where they are employed or by going to a Gemalto site for
fingerprinting. If obtained from the employing school system, the FBI report must be forwarded directly to
the Ethics division. If an educator needs to be fingerprinted, they must visit the Gemalto website
to register. It is necessary to notify the GaPSC when an educator has submitted the necessary information to
obtain the FBI report. Please note there must be an open Ethics case before being fingerprinted.
9. What happens when an educator is reported to the Educator Ethics Division?
When a complaint is received, the Commission determines whether an investigation is warranted. If the
Commission votes to investigate, the matter is assigned to an Educator Ethics investigator. The educator,
the complainant, and the educator’s employing school/school system is notified of the investigation. 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 notice of disciplinary action explaining that he/she may
consent to the proposed sanction or request a hearing. If a hearing is requested, an administrative law
judge with the Office of State Administrative Hearings will hear the case and make a decision either
concurring or modifying the proposed sanction. The administrative law judge’s Order becomes the Commission’s
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?
The GaPSC sends notice of an Ethics investigation’s final outcome to the educator, the complainant, and the
educator’s employing school system. When an Ethics case results in disciplinary action, all information
contained in the case file is subject to Georgia’s Open Records Act making it available for release to
anyone who requests the information. All suspensions, revocations and denials are reported to the National
Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). This information is
viewable by other NASDTEC members.