Originally created 04/25/06

Board wrestling with ethics codes



They may be bickering among themselves about whether they can establish ethical standards for one another, but that isn't stopping Richmond County school board members from moving forward with a code of ethics for the system's superintendent.

Last month, the board approved a motion requiring board members to sign its code of ethics by the April business meeting. The code itself, which the board approved in February, states that board members must sign a pledge to uphold it. However, some board members didn't sign it and still haven't.

"I don't agree with the wording," Barbara Pulliam said Monday, calling some of the language vague and opinionated.

Why should a board member sign it, anyway, if there are no consequences to violating it? she said.

Mrs. Pulliam said she pledged a code of ethics when she raised her hand and took the oath of office.

A.K. Hasan also refused to sign it, saying board members are colleagues and can't control one another.

"I have no intention of signing it at this time," he said. "There may be a time when I will sign it."

Despite that, Mr. Hasan "absolutely" supports a code of ethics for the superintendent.

Amid discussions in March of the board's code of ethics, board member Jimmy Atkins requested that an ad hoc committee be formed to develop a code for the superintendent.

The same board members who served on the committee that wrote the board's code will serve on the new committee, he said.

Board Vice President Barbara Padgett has yet to sign the code, although she said Monday that she plans to.

Some board members said they are confused by their colleagues' reluctance.

"I don't know why they haven't signed it," member Eloise Curtis said. "I never thought about it. I just do what I think is best for the school system and move in that direction."

As for ethical standards for the superintendent, Mrs. Curtis said she thought the position already had a code of ethics.

All state educators, including superintendents, fall under the code of ethics of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, said Herb Garrett, the executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association. He knows of no district that has developed a separate code for a superintendent.

The Professional Standards Commission issues teaching certificates and handles issues related to those certificates. Its code of ethics lists in detail 10 standards all educators should adhere to, in addition to the consequences for violating the code.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

EDUCATORS' CODE OF ETHICS


All educators in Georgia are legally bound to follow a code of ethics. Here are the 10 standards the code covers:


- Criminal acts


- Abuse of students


- Alcohol or drugs


- Misrepresentation or falsification


- Public funds and property


- Improper remunerative conduct


- Confidential information


- Abandonment of contract


- Failure to make a required report


- Professional conduct

Source: Georgia Professional Standards Commission