Education Ethics

Cases of ethical violations in the classroom are not uncommon. Teachers in Florida are obligated to follow the Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct of the Education Profession, which outlines the duties that educators must fulfill. Personal conduct is the most important part of Florida's code of ethics for teachers. Educator misconduct happens when a teacher fails to follow the standards set in the Education Profession's code of ethics (Florida Department of Education). Failure to comply with the code of ethics can take various forms, including sexual or physical abuse, a teacher in possession of marijuana, and forgery of continuing education credentials, among others. Mostly, teacher misconduct occurs within the school compound. However, it can also involve something that happened outside the school environment, but involved a teacher and his/her student. This paper aims to identify and describe three cases where teachers violated ethical principles. Also, the article will discuss the importance of having an ethical code to both students and teachers.

In 2015, the teacher of an elementary school was sentenced to 18 months in prison and 25 years of probation for sexually abusing three of his students aged 6, 9, and 11 during a sleepover party (Oliveira, 2016). According to the victim’s judge, the teacher was a close friend to the three students, and he took the boys to amusement parks, restaurants, sporting events, and sometimes even to his house to play video games (Oliveira, 2016). The mother to one of the boys also added that at the beginning everything seemed wonderful since Stroh – the teacher – was everyone’s best teacher. However, what the parents did not realize is that the teacher was violating the teacher’s code of ethics even before the sexual assault occurred.

In this case, the teacher violated his obligation to the student. The code of ethics requires a teacher not to exploit his/her relationship with the student for personal gain or advantage (Florida Department of Education). The code of ethics also prohibits teachers from spending time with students outside the school setting. The teacher is not supposed to even to give a student a lift without the presence of another adult. The teacher also failed to act professionally. “The educator’s primary professional concern will always be for the student and the development of the student’s potential. The educator will, therefore, strive for professional growth and will seek to exercise the best professional judgment and integrity.” (Florida Department of Education). Stroh failed to maintain a professional relationship with his students, and this is what landed him in trouble. Teachers are role models to students and should, therefore, maintain an appropriate boundary with them and their parents. In as much as teachers would want to maintain a positive rapport with their students, they should do so in a professional manner.

In another case, the teacher was also removed from school for violating the professional code of ethics. After carrying out investigations, the school administration found out that the teacher – Bell – grabbed the student’s book and threw it across the room and told the student that he would not read again. Also, the investigators founded that on several occasions, the teacher got into the students face in the intimidating manner (Bielema, 2011). The teacher's code of ethics states that as a teacher, one should be “aware of the importance of maintaining the respect and confidence of one’s colleagues, of students, of parents, and of other members of the community, the educator strives to achieve and sustain the highest degree of ethical conduct” (Florida Department of Education).

The teacher violated the code of ethics by intentionally exposing the student to unnecessary embarrassment. It is clear that the student felt embarrassed among his classmates when his book was grabbed and thrown across the room. Moreover, the teacher failed to make reasonable efforts to “protect the student from conditions harmful to learning and/or to the student’s mental and/or physical health and/or safety” (Florida Department of Education).

Therefore, the teacher exercised poor judgement, acted insensitively and inappropriately, and created conditions which were harmful to the student’s learning in violation of the Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct of the Education Profession.

In Duval County, Florida, the teacher was given a reprimand and suspended for two weeks for ethical violation. Students filed several cases against the teacher asking them about their sexuality and calling them gay (Bereola, 2015). The teacher – Kelly – asked her students questions which made them feel uncomfortable. For instance, the teacher asked her student’s questions such as “Are you gay?” Kelly also threatened her students by telling them that she owns them and they must listen to her. What is more, the teacher talked about her sexuality with her students (Bereola, 2015). She had also been given her first warning in 1998 for slapping and jerking students.

Educators in Florida are guided by the ethical principle which states: “The educator values the worth and dignity of every person, the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, acquisition of knowledge, and the nurture of democratic citizenship. Essential to the achievement of these standards is the freedom to learn and to teach and the guarantee of equal opportunity for all” (Florida Department of Education).

The teacher did not treat the student with the dignity they deserved because she breached their privacy by asking them about their sexuality and also by asking them questions which made them feel uncomfortable. Therefore, she failed in her obligation to make reasonable effort to ensure that the students are protected from harassment.

The ethical code is beneficial and necessary to both teachers and students. It ensures that the teachers act professionally and ethically at all times. Also, the code of ethics is designed to protect both the rights of the teachers and students. The job of teacher is to provide quality education to students. The code of ethics outlines how teachers should work with students. For instance, the code of ethics states that teachers should be fair to their student and should not take advantage of their position for personal gain. Therefore, the code of ethics is beneficial to the teachers since it helps them to make quick and prudent decisions when dealing with students. Having an ethical code is also important and beneficial to the students as it ensures safe environment for them.


Bereola, L. (2015). Florida teacher suspended after demanding to know whether students are gay. Retrieved from

Bielema, C. (2011). Teacher commits ethics violation. Retrieved from

Florida Department of Education. (n.d.). Principles of professional conduct for the education profession in Florida. Retrieved from

Oliveira, N. (2016). Teacher violated ethics. Retrieved from

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