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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 state.

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 non-public school.

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.