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The Ethical Colleague

As a professional educator, you have an obligation to protect students from conditions that are harmful or unsafe and are prohibited from knowingly and intentionally withholding evidence about violations of an educator's legal obligations. In addition, you have an obligation to the profession to uphold its values. The Professional Standards and Practices Commission (PSPC) believes that individual educators have a responsibility to intervene when they suspect misconduct. Such intervention may involve confronting your colleague, reporting to a supervisor or the filing of a complaint with the state. An Educator Misconduct Complaint may be filed by any interested party within one year from the date of alleged misconduct or the date of the discovery of alleged misconduct. If the alleged misconduct is of a continuing nature, the complaint must be filed within one year of the last date on which the conduct occurred. Complaints involving sexual abuse or exploitation of a child or a student may be filed up until five years after the child or student reaches 18 years of age.

Additionally, the Code of Professional Practice and Conduct clearly outlines expectations for teachers working with colleagues.

Under Section 11: Professional Relationships, the Code states:

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 employee.
  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.

22 Pa. Code §235.11.

These expectations form the foundation of ethical behavior for professional educators in the Commonwealth and should serve as a guide for teachers as they work with colleagues and students.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why does the Professional Educator Discipline Act (Act) provide for "interested parties" to file complaints against teachers? Whose interests are the Act attempting to protect?
  2. Can you prioritize these interests?
  3. What constitutes an "interested party?" Who is able to file a complaint against a teacher?
  4. Do you think it is a fair or realistic expectation to ask teachers to “police” their profession? Do other professions require its members to uphold their ethical and professional standards by reporting misconduct of their colleagues?