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Texas Educators' Code of Ethics

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Licensed Texas educators must adhere to the state's code of ethics or face disciplinary action. Read on to learn about the standards included in this code, find out how it's enforced and discover ethics professional development resources for teachers.

About the Code of Ethics for Texas Educators

The Texas Educators' Code of Ethics, which is outlined in the state's administrative code, contains 29 ethical standards within three separate categories governing teachers' professional conduct as well as their interactions with students, coworkers and community members. These three categories are outlined below.

Professional Ethical Conduct, Practices and Performance Standards

This set of 13 standards focuses largely on morals and honesty. Teachers may not, for example:

  • Be untruthful about their employment and criminal histories
  • Misappropriate funds or supplies
  • Exhibit violent or threatening behavior toward colleagues, students or parents
  • Accept inappropriate gifts
  • Manipulate records
  • Drink alcohol at school in the presence of students
  • Use illegal substances
  • Gain personal advantages or privileges because of their employment

Ethical Conduct Toward Professional Colleagues Standards

This set of seven standards focuses on respectful behavior among teachers and staff. Teachers may not, for example:

  • Disclose confidential information about their peers
  • Exhibit biased or discriminatory actions or behaviors
  • Violate human resources laws and regulations regarding personnel
  • Seek revenge against a peer who reports misconduct
  • Infringe on a colleague's responsibilities or rights

Ethical Conduct Toward Students Standards

These nine standards emphasize maintaining student rights and establishing student-teacher boundaries. Teachers may not, for example:

  • Divulge confidential information about students
  • Put a minor's education, safety or health at risk in any way
  • Make untruthful statements about a student
  • Have inappropriate (romantic or sexual) relationships with students
  • Unlawfully provide a student under 21 with alcohol or other controlled substances
  • Communicate with students inappropriately, either in person or via phone, text or other forms of digital communication

The full Texas Educators' Code of Ethics is available from the office of the secretary of state (sos.state.tx.us/tac).

Ethics Training Resources

A variety of training and professional development courses that explain the standards outlined in the code are available to teachers. The Texas Education Agency (TEA), for example, offers an online ethics training course for Texas educators. This training consists of four modules that contain a total of 10 videos outlining scenarios in which the characters demonstrate various types of unethical behavior and their consequences. The entire video series takes less than an hour to complete and is accompanied by an assessment to measure an educator's understanding of the code. Teachers may view the videos on the TEA's YouTube channel. The four modules focus on:

  • Boundaries
  • Social media
  • Off-campus behavior
  • Anger management

Educators may also want to review this self-paced, online Study.com course on Practicing Ethical Behavior in the Workplace to learn about everything from ethical leadership skills and factors affecting ethical climate to ethical communication and decision making. The following lessons are also available:

Ethics Code Violation Policies and Possible Sanctions

Ethics code violation complaints against teachers may be filed with the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) by other educators or by students' parents and guardians. If the SBEC finds a complaint to be valid, it is presented to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). An SOAH judge will then submit a proposed decision back to the SBEC, which makes a final ruling. Educators found to be in violation of any of these standards may receive punishment as severe as permanently losing their teacher certification.

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