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 if I resign?
  5. What do I need to report when I apply for certification?
  6. When should I answer "yes" to the criminal history question on the GaPSC application for certification?
  7. When do I need to submit an 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 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:

  1. Alleged violations by an educator of any law of this state pertaining to educators or 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, 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 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 Georgia Professional Standards Commission by submitting a signed request for investigation (complaint) in writing to:

Ethics Division
200 Piedmont Avenue SE
Suite 1716, West Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-9032

Complaints should include the educator’s name, where he/she resides or is 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, Abandonment of Contract, or the Testing Violation forms.

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

Yes, 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 my school system report me if I 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 15th for the upcoming school year; or
  • The Educator submits a letter of resignation with at least a two week notice after June 15th 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. 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 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 I answer “yes” to the criminal history question on the GaPSC application for certification?

You must answer “yes” to the criminal history question(s) 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 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 do I need to submit an FBI criminal history report?

If you have been convicted of a drug charge, a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude in another state, you must submit an FBI criminal history report with your application for certification. You must also submit an FBI criminal history report if you are petitioning for the right to reapply and your original case involved criminal activity or you have resided in another state since your certificate was denied/revoked.

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 Gemalto site for fingerprinting. If obtained from your employing school system, the FBI report must be forwarded directly to the Ethics division. If you need to be fingerprinted, you must visit the Gemalto website (https://www.aps.gemalto.com/ga/index.htm) to register. It is necessary to notify the GaPSC when you have 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 someone 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 final decision.

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.