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Personnel Guide on

Ethical and Legal


Issues
By Stacy Fowler, Kelly Summers, and Laurie
Woodruf

Religion in Public
Schools
Establishment Clause
Students cannot be forced to believe a certain way
or practice certain religions in order to attend school

Lemon Test - 3 parts


Secular purpose
Neither furthers nor impedes

Religious Activities in Public


Schools
Must be led by students
Teachers may not create a religious atmosphere
Teaching with the Bible - instructional resource
Through conversation

No religious symbols, materials, or displays

Freedom of
Expression

Students can express their


beliefs as long as these
beliefs do not infringe
upon the rights of the other
students.

Freedom of Expression
Students do have the right to protests and demonstrations under the First
Amendment
School officials may restrict freedom of expression if there is evidence of disruption
or a violation of school rules
Demonstrations that deprive other students in a peaceful environment can be
disallowed
Student Newspapers- students must exercise highest standards of responsible
journalism
School officials can omit articles from the school newspaper

Search and Seizure


Schools must adhere to a reasonable search and seizure protocol
Teachers must have reasonable suspicion to search a student
Schools may search school property items or items on school property
(vehicles) with reasonable suspicion
Students are protected from an unreasonable search by the fourth
amendment
The intrusiveness of the search must be parallel to imminent danger
that exists

Due Process for Teachers


A tenured teacher can be fired.
The teacher has a right to a hearing to
plead his/her case.
The hearing is similar to a court
proceeding.

Due Process for Students


The student who is to be punished should be informed of
the rule violation and provided an opportunity to
respond
Due process consists of two specific aspects: procedural
and substantive
Procedural requires that certain legal procedures be
followed to ensure fairness and to avoid arbitrary and
capricious actions by school officials
Substantive deals with the students individual or
personal rights

Liability and
Student
Records

Students and their parents have a right


to the students records anytime.
Non-custodial parents have the same
right to access to the records as
custodial parents.
School Personnel must maintain
confidentiality of student records at
all times. Nothing in the record is
allowed to be shared without the
consent of the student (of age of
consent) or students parents.
School personnel can be held liable for
breaking confidentiality of these
records.

Individuals with
Disabilities
As of 1975, public law 94-142 required that all public schools
accepting federal funds must provide equal access to education
and one free meal a day for children with physical and mental
disabilities. Public schools are required to evaluate handicapped
children and create an educational plan with parent input that
emulate as close as possible to the same educational experience
of non-disabled students.
The IDEA requires each state to allocate federal funds first to
children with disabilities who are not receiving any type of
education and subsequently to the children with the most severe
disabilities within each disability category.
School personnel should be aware of potential liability challenges
if they fail to perform certain related services properly.

Georgia
s Code
of Ethics
Standar
ds

Standard 1 - Legal Compliance


-abide by federal, state, and local laws

Standard 2 - Conduct with Students


-maintain professional relationship with students

Standard 3 - Alcohol or Drugs


-refrain from use on school or district grounds or
during
school related activities

Standard 4 - Honesty
-exemplify honesty regarding student information,

Standard 5 - Public Funds and Property


-account for funds & do not misuse public funds
-do not use school property without approval

Standard 6 - Remunerative Conduct

-maintain integrity when accepting gifts, gratuities,


favors and additional compensation

Standard 7 - Confidential Information

-sharing of confidential information is restricted by


state and federal law

Standard 8 - Abandonment of Contract


-educators must fulfill all terms and obligations
detailed in
the contract

Standard 9 - Required Reports

-an educator shall report the breach of any of the


standards

Standard 10 - Professional Conduct

-educators must demonstrate professional conduct

Standard 11 - Testing
-educators must administer test fairly and ethically

References
Essex, Nathan L. (2006). A teachers pocket guide to
school law. (Third ed.). Boston/New York: Pearson
Education, Inc. ISBN: 978-0-13-335191-0.
Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators,
http://gae2.org/pdf/KNOW/5.4/codeofethics.pdf