Parents and Members of the Public
Public Expectations of our Educational Institutions
The Pennsylvania Department of Education's mission is to
lead and serve the educational community to enable each individual to grow into
an inspired, productive, fulfilled life-long learner. To that end, the
public can expect qualified, effective educators in its public schools and
administrators who are capable instructional leaders. The public
school environment for every student in Pennsylvania should be supportive, safe
and responsive. The ethical standards of conduct demanded of every
certificated educator and other educators who fall within the jurisdiction
of the educator discipline act in Pennsylvania are detailed in the code of professional practice and conduct for educators.
The professional standards and practices commission is
vested with authority for disciplining those educators who engage in misconduct
or who breach the ethical standards of the education profession. The
commission is committed to protecting the interests of the public and the
children/students of this commonwealth while ensuring that the discipline
process is conducted in a fair and impartial manner.
What to do if you have a concern about an educator
In most cases, it is advised to address concerns directly
with the educator. If speaking to the educator is not appropriate or
feasible, then concerns should be brought to the educator's supervisor.
Many concerns can be resolved at the local level without intervention of the
Another option is to file an educator misconduct complaint with the department of
education. The educator discipline act assigns responsibility for reviewing,
investigating, and prosecuting educator misconduct with the department.
Complaint forms can be obtained by clicking the link above or by contacting the Office of Chief
Counsel, Pennsylvania Department of Education at (717)787-5500. Detailed
frequently asked questions about filing a complaint.
Can I complain anonymously
In order for a complaint to be accepted, it must be signed
and verified by the interested party filing the complaint. Anonymous
complaints will not be processed.
What is the jurisdiction of the Professional Standards
and Practices Commission
The commission has jurisdiction over all certificated
educators (public school and private academic school certification) and those
educators, who work in a charter or cyber charter school or in a contracted educational
provider with which the school entity contracts to provide direct educational
services to its students, but who would need certification if they worked in a
traditional public school setting. The jurisdiction extends to those
holding certification even though they have resigned or retired, are no longer
working in education or in Pennsylvania, or are working in a private or
Unless certificated, school board directors, coaches and
non-professional staff do not fall within the jurisdiction of the commission.
Discipline against an educator may be appropriate where the conduct constitutes immorality,
intemperance, negligence, incompetency, cruelty, certification fraud, sexual
misconduct, sexual abuse or exploitation, violates the code of professional
practice and conduct, or involves a crime of moral turpitude or a
crime listed in Section 1-111(e) of the Public School Code of 1949.
If I file a complaint, will I or my child have to testify
at a hearing
Not all complaints result in a hearing. While many
cases can be resolved prior to the filing of a notice of charges or an
administrative hearing, it is expected that should a case proceed to hearing
that witnesses will be called to testify. Depending on the facts of the case, you or
your child may be asked to provide testimony.
The entire disciplinary process, including the complaint, is
confidential. Information is released to the public only if public
discipline is actually imposed on the educator. Violations of the
confidentiality prescriptions in the educator discipline act may
constitute a criminal offense. The confidentiality provisions are
designed to protect the complainant and the affected educator and to avoid
possible prejudice to the discipline process. If your child has to testify, the
commission will make every effort possible to redact any reference to your
child in the record should the record become public.