• Updated code of conduct for Washington educators

    Licensed professions often have a code of conduct that all practitioners in their field are expected to follow. The educator profession is no exception. In Washington, the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB), composed primarily of practicing educators, sets standards and establishes a code of conduct for teachers, administrators, and educational staff associates (ESAs). The educator code of conduct safeguards our students, strengthens the culture of our schools, and increases public confidence in the integrity of our education system. It also clarifies what is expected of educators and how they will be held accountable.

    Educator discipline is administered at two levels. Employment discipline is handled at the local level, and certificate discipline is handled at the state level. The OSPI Office of Professional Practice (OPP) is responsible for investigating individual educators for possible violations of the professional code of conduct at the state level.

    Code of conduct

    In 2020, a stakeholder workgroup met to review the educator discipline system in Washington. At the March 2021 board meeting, PESB approved updates to the code of conduct and educator discipline system related to workgroup recommendations.

    Additions to the code of conduct:

    • Provisions on social media and digital communications (WAC 181-87-062)
    • New definition of sexual grooming is now included in sexual misconduct (WAC 181-87-080)

    Discipline system

    The Board added a new type of OPP action: the letter of concern. A letter of concern is a low-level intervention that is preventive and informative in nature. It is also non-disciplinary, meaning that no action is taken on the educator's certificate. A letter of concern is not issued for serious types of misconduct.

    The Board also approved guidance for the composition of a disciplinary appeals committee to better reflect the diversity of the students in our state.

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