Educator Codes Of Conduct, Ethics Approved
CONCORD – The New Hampshire State Board of Education on Nov. 8, 2018, approved the educator Code of Conduct, following the approval of an educator Code of Ethics in June 2018. This combined set of rules and procedures is not in response to any one circumstance or incident, but are designed to build on the high standards of the state’s educators, elevate the education profession, and provide guidance to educators. Whereas the Code of Ethics outlines aspirational goals for educators, the Code of Conduct precisely describes inappropriate activities and due process when rules have not been followed.
The creation of the Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics began by the New Hampshire Department of Education (NH DOE) in 2015, and was advanced by the Legislature in 2016 (HB 1457) and 2017 (HB 210). HB 210, which was signed into law last year, required the state board to adopt a code no later than July 1, 2018.
While teachers, specialists, counselors, and administrators hold themselves to very high standards, the state has seen a number of educator misconduct investigations in recent years. Cases grew from 170 in 2014, to 222, so far this year, according to NH DOE data. Between nine and 16 teacher revocations and suspensions have occurred annually during the past five years.
Both the Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics include four core principles that were enumerated in the 2017 legislation. Those include the responsibility to students, responsibility to education profession and educational professionals, responsibility to the school community, and ethical use of technology. While both the Code of Conduct and the Code of Ethics define and clarify inappropriate activities, an important aspect that should not be overlooked is the procedural improvements. While these rules and procedures become effective immediately, the NH DOE has established a process whereby educators will be asked to acknowledge they have read and agreed to the Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics during the credentialing process.
“Educators now have clarity about inappropriate actions and the process that the department will follow when those actions are brought to their attention,” stated Frank Edelblut the commissioner of education. “We have strengthened student, educator and community protections and have preserved due process rights.”
Some of the changes to education rules in the state include a definition of inappropriate student communication, expanded specificity as to matters of misconduct, clarifications on the process of reporting incidents, and an immediate suspension when an arrest occurs for certain egregious offenses.
The Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics aim to empower local school districts with shared responsibility, transparency, and clarity when addressing personnel matters.
Earlier this year, a task force made up of 20 administrators, educators, teacher unions analyzed the rule changes, made suggestions for improvement, and later, approved the changes.