FAQ's about Code of Conduct for Educators
Licensure Code of Conduct of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators
On March 11, 2008, the State Board of Education adopted the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators (LCPCOE). ODE collaborated with the Educator Standards Board (ESB) to create the Code that was mandated in House Bill 190.
Click here for a PDF of the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct
Who is the intended audience?
The Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators (LCPCOE) applies to any individual licensed by the state of Ohio, such as teachers, principals, superintendents and other persons serving schools (e.g., school nurses, coaches, substitute teachers).
Why was this created?
Although professional conduct issues involve less than one percent of individuals licensed by the state of Ohio, the Ohio legislature recognized the need for Ohio educators to maintain the highest degree of professional conduct. In November 2007, Amended Substitute House Bill 190 charged the Educator Standards Board with drafting a code of conduct for the teaching profession. With significant input from various stakeholders in the profession, the Educator Standards Board drafted the code of conduct and presented it to the State Board of Education for consideration. On March 11, 2008, the State Board of Education adopted the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators as a board policy.
Are teachers/administrators required to report violations of the LCPCOE?
Under the LCPCOE, all licensed individuals should report to his/her superintendent or chief administrator any conduct that substantially impairs an educator’s ability to function professionally in his or her position, or any conduct that is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of students. Further, individual educators are mandated to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect to children welfare agencies or law enforcement. (See Ohio Revised Code Section 2151.421.)
What are Superintendents required to report?
The LCPCOE recognizes that existing law requires superintendents and chief administrators for school districts, community schools, educational service centers, and MRDD schools to report educator conduct in certain circumstances. Amended Substitute House Bill 79 requires school authorities to submit a report of educator misconduct to the Ohio Department of Education if:
- an educator has been convicted of a criminal offense listed in Ohio Revised Code §3319.31 or Ohio Revised Code §3319.39;
- termination/non-renewal proceedings have been initiated due to an educator’s conduct unbecoming;
- an educator has resigned under threat of termination/non-renewal; or
- an educator has resigned in the course of investigation.
What is the chain of command for making an allegation?
If an individual believes an educator has violated the LCPCOE, the first step is to report the alleged violation to administrators in the school district or educational entity that currently employs the educator. This informs the local board of education or governing authority of the situation and gives school administrators an opportunity to address the situation. This is a critical step because only local boards of education and governing authorities have the legal authority over employment issues, such as working assignments. The State Board of Education can limit, suspend, revoke or deny an educator’s teaching license but does not have any legal authority to remove a school employee from duties involving the care, custody or control of children.
If an educator’s conduct results in a criminal conviction or the educator’s separation from employment with a district or educational entity, this information should be reported to the Department of Education. If a school administrator or another individual has questions regarding whether a complaint should be filed with the Department regarding a violation of the LCPCOE, the Department encourages the person to contact the Office of Professional Conduct at email@example.com or toll free at 1-877-644-6338, to discuss the matter further.
How does the Department handle complaints?
Upon receiving a complaint, the Department makes an evaluation to determine whether the State Board has jurisdiction over the educator and whether an investigation in the alleged violation should be initiated.
Will every violation of the code be investigated?
The Department may not investigate every violation of the LCPCOE. Traditionally, some types of educator misconduct have been considered employment issues since they are better addressed by a local school district or educational entity rather than at the state level. Generally, the Department will not investigate violations of the LCPCOE involving disparaging a colleague, peer or other school personnel; using tobacco on school premises in a non-designated area; falsifying or misreporting absences; grading issues; issues related to job performance; and other minor violations of the LCPCOE. In addition, the Department may not investigate a violation of the LCPCOE if the school district or educational entity imposed a penalty, sanction or other conditions that adequately addressed the educator’s conduct.
Will an investigation into an alleged violation of the LCPCOE result in a disciplinary action?
Not in every case. The State Board of Education has the authority to suspend, limit, revoke or deny licenses, issue a letter of admonishment, or enter into a consent agreement with an educator. If there is a determination that the allegation is false or cannot be proven, no disciplinary action will be imposed. Upon a determination that the results of an investigation warrant the State Board to impose a disciplinary action pursuant to Ohio Revised Code §3319.31, the State Board may impose an appropriate penalty within the presumptive ranges as set forth in the disciplinary guidelines of the LCPCOE. Also, the State Board may determine that a penalty outside the range of the disciplinary guidelines is more appropriate in an individual case, based upon the aggravating and mitigating factors outlined in Rule 3301-73-21 and Rule 3301-20-01(E) of the Ohio Administrative Code or any other factors the State Board considers relevant. Further, the State Board may determine not to impose a disciplinary action based upon a local school district or educational entity appropriately addressing the violation of the LCPCOE at the district or building level.
Does the LCPCOE sacrifice the due process rights of educators?
No. Beginning with an investigation through imposition of any disciplinary action for a violation of the LCPCOE, educators are entitled to all due process rights afforded them under Chapter 33 and Chapter 119 of the Ohio Revised Code,and Chapter 3301 of the Ohio Administrative Code.
Is there a difference between Ohio’s Ethics Law and the LCPCOE?
Yes. Ohio’s Ethics Law details ethical standards for public officials and employees and works in conjunction with the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct. If you have questions regarding the Ethics Law and its impact on licensed educators, please contact the Ohio Ethics Commission at (614) 466-7090 or at their Web site: http://www.ethics.ohio.gov/
Where do I go for more information?
For more information regarding the LCPCOE or to report a violation, please contact the Office of Professional Conduct at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at 1-877-644-6338.
Will the code be reviewed?
Yes. The State Board of Education and the Educator Standards Board will periodically review the LCPCOE for possible revisions. (First reviewed by the ESB in May 2009)