Close Close

Professionalism: Code of Ethics

National Education Association | Council for Exceptional Children

National Education Association (NEA)
Code of Ethics of the Education Profession


The educator, believing in the worth and dignity of each human being, recognizes the supreme importance of the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, and the nurture of the democratic principles. Essential to these goals is the protection of freedom to learn and to teach and the guarantee of equal educational opportunity for all. The educator accepts the responsibility to adhere to the highest ethical standards.

The educator recognizes the magnitude of the responsibility inherent in the teaching process. The desire for the respect and confidence of one’s colleagues, of students, of parents, and of the members of the community provides the incentive to attain and maintain the highest possible degree of ethical conduct. The Code of Ethics of the Education Profession indicates the aspiration of all educators and provides standards by which to judge conduct.

The remedies specified by the NEA and/or its affiliates for the violation of any provision of this Code shall be exclusive and no such provision shall be enforceable in any form other than the one specifically designated by the NEA or its affiliates.

Principle I – Commitment to the Student

The educator strives to help each student realize his or her potential as a worthy and effective member of society. The educator therefore works to stimulate the spirit of inquiry, the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and the thoughtful formulation of worthy goals.

In fulfillment of the obligation to the student, the educator:

  1. Shall not unreasonably restrain the student from independent action in the pursuit of learning.
  2. Shall not unreasonably deny the student’s access to varying points of view.
  3. Shall not deliberately suppress or distort subject matter relevant to the student’s progress.
  4. Shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning or to health and safety.
  5. Shall not intentionally expose the student to embarrassment or disparagement.
  6. Shall not on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, marital status, political or religious beliefs, family, social or cultural background, or sexual orientation, unfairly
    1. Exclude any student from participation in any program
    2. Deny benefits to any student
    3. Grant any advantage to any student
  7. Shall not use professional relationships with students for private advantage.
  8. Shall not disclose information about students obtained in the course of professional service unless disclosure serves a compelling professional purpose or is required by law.

Principle II – Commitment to the Profession

The education profession is vested by the public with a trust and responsibility requiring the highest ideals of professional service.

In the belief that the quality of the services of the education profession directly influences the nation and its citizens, the educator shall exert every effort to raise professional standards, to promote a climate that encourages the exercise of professional judgment, to achieve conditions that attract persons worthy of the trust to careers in education, and to assist in preventing the practice of the profession by unqualified persons.

In fulfillment of the obligation to the profession, the educator:

  • Shall not in an application for a professional position deliberately make a false statement or fail to disclose a material fact related to competency and qualifications.
  • Shall not misrepresent his/her professional qualifications.
  • Shall not assist any entry into the profession of a person known to be unqualified in respect to character, education, or other relevant attribute.
  • Shall not knowingly make a false statement concerning the qualifications of a candidate for a professional position.
  • Shall not assist a noneducator in the unauthorized practice of teaching.
  • Shall not disclose information about colleagues obtained in the course of professional service unless disclosure serves a compelling professional purpose or is required by law.
  • Shall not knowingly make false or malicious statements about a colleague.
  • Shall not accept any gratuity, gift, or favor that might impair or appear to influence professional decisions or action.

Adopted by the NEA 1975 Representative Assembly

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

Code of Ethics for Educators of Persons with Exceptionalities

The Monmouth University Special Education Program adheres to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practices as set forth by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). The following is excerpted from CEC Policy Manual.

We declare the following principles to be the Code of Ethics for educators of persons with exceptionalities. Members of the special education profession are responsible for upholding and advancing these principles. Members of the Council for Exceptional Children agree to judge and be judged by them in accordance with the spirit and provisions of this Code.

  1. Special education professionals are committed to developing the highest educational and quality of life potential of individuals with exceptionalities.
  2. Special education professionals promote and maintain a high level of competence and integrity in practicing their profession.
  3. Special education professional engage in professional activities which benefit individuals with exceptionalities, their families, other colleagues, students, or research subjects.
  4. Special education professionals exercise objective professional judgment in the practice of their profession.
  5. Special education professionals strive to advance their knowledge and skills regarding the education of individuals with exceptionalities.
  6. Special education professions work within the standards and policies of their profession.
  7. Special education professionals seek to uphold and improve where necessary the laws, regulations, and policies governing the delivery of special education and related services and the practice of their profession.
  8. Special education professionals do not condone or participate in unethical or illegal acts, nor violate professional standards adopted by the Delegate Assembly of CEC.

The Council for Exceptional Children. (1993). CEC Policy Manual, Section Three, part 2 (p. 4). Reston, VA: Author. Originally adopted by the Delegate Assembly of The Council for Exceptional Children in April 1983.

CEC Standards for Professional Practice

Professionals in Relation to Persons with Exceptionalities and Their Families
Instructional Responsibilities

Special education personnel are committed to the application of professional expertise to ensure the provision of quality education for all individuals with exceptionalities.

Professionals strive to:

  1. Identify and use instructional methods and curricula that are appropriate to their area of professional practice and effective in meeting the individual needs of persons with exceptionalities.
  2. Participate in the selection and use of appropriate instructional materials, equipment, supplies, and other resources needed in the effective practice of their profession.
  3. Create safe and effective learning environments which contribute to fulfillment of needs, stimulation of learning, and self-concept.
  4. Maintain class size and case loads which are conducive to meeting the individual instructional needs of individuals with exceptionalities.
  5. Use assessment instruments and procedures that do not discriminate against persons with exceptionalities on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, age, political practices, family or social background, sexual orientation, or exceptionality.
  6. Base grading, promotion, graduation, and/or movement out of the program on the individual goals and objectives for individuals with exceptionalities.
  7. Provide accurate program data to administrators, colleagues, and parents, based on efficient and objective record keeping practices, for the purpose of decision making.
  8. Maintain confidentiality of information except when information is released under specific conditions of written consent and statutory confidentiality requirements.

Management of Behavior

Special education professionals participate with other professionals and with parents in an interdisciplinary effort in the management of behavior. Professionals:

  1. Apply only those disciplinary methods and behavioral procedures which they have been instructed to use and which do not undermine the dignity of the individual or the basic human rights of persons with exceptionalities, such as corporal punishment.
  2. Clearly specify the goals and objectives for behavior management practices in the persons’ with exceptionalities Individualized Education Program.
  3. Conform to policies, statutes, and rules established by state/provincial and local agencies relating to judicious application of disciplinary methods and behavioral procedures.
  4. Take adequate measures to discourage, prevent, and intervene when a colleague’s behavior is perceived as being detrimental to exceptional students.
  5. Refrain from aversive techniques unless repeated trials of other methods have failed and only after consultation with parents and appropriate agency officials.

Support Procedures

  1. Adequate instruction and supervision shall be provided to professionals before they are required to perform support services for which they have not been prepared previously.
  2. Professionals may administer medication, where state/provincial policies do not preclude such action, if qualified to do so or if written instructions are on file which state the purpose of the medication, the conditions under which it may be administered, possible side effects, the physician’s name and phone number, and the professional liability if a mistake is made. The professional will not be required to administer medication.
  3. Professional note and report to those concerned whenever changes in behavior occur in conjunction with the administration of medication or at any other time.

Parent Relationships

Professionals seek to develop relationships with parents based on mutual respect for their roles in achieving benefits for the exceptional person. Special education professionals:

  1. Develop effective communication with parents, avoiding technical terminology, using the primary language of the home, and other modes of communication when appropriate.
  2. Seek and use parents’ knowledge and expertise in planning, conducting, and evaluating special education and related services for persons with exceptionalities.
  3. Maintain communications between parents and professionals with appropriate respect for privacy and confidentiality.
  4. Extend opportunities for parent education utilizing accurate information and professional methods.
  5. Inform parents of the educational rights of their children and of any proposed or actual practices which violate those rights.
  6. Recognize and respect cultural diversities which exist in some families with persons with exceptionalities.
  7. Recognize that the relationship of home and community environmental conditions affects the behavior and outlook of the exceptional person.

Additional Information