Ethics are concerned with the moral actions of people; in general, school ethics apply to students, teachers, administrators, and the school board. For each of these entities, a code of ethics is usually created — from within the institution, through professional organizations, or by both. The code of ethics provides ethical standards that people associated with the school are expected to follow in relation to working with others and in the decision-making process. Ethical codes also establish consequences for individuals that do not abide by school ethics policies. The policies typically are intended to create an atmosphere of trust, honesty, and good citizenship.
School ethics in relation to students are usually centered on students demonstrating respect for each other, teachers, and administrators. Additionally, ethical codes for students usually demand that students respect the facility where they are enrolled, as well. One of the most significant factors concerning students and ethics in the schools is plagiarism — students are required to submit work that is uniquely their own and be prepared to suffer suspension, expulsion, or other administrative actions if it is not.
Teachers and administrators are ethically guided through professional and institutional ethical codes. They typically are required to create a learning environment that fosters high ethical standards for students through modeling and instruction. Moreover, teachers and administrators typically create a safe learning environment in which all students have the same educational opportunities and can achieve success.
Educators also can be required to demonstrate high ethical standards in their communications with parents, peers, and other individuals associated with the school. Building trust is an essential component to these interactions, as is maintaining the confidentiality of all parties. Teachers and administrators are also ethically bound to maintain their professional training and to present themselves as representatives of the school in an ethical manner.
School board members are guided by ethical codes in their state and through the school district where they serve. Like teachers and administrators, school board members are required to create a learning environment that provides equality in learning to all students. School board members are also required to make school ethics decisions that are focused on safety, the operation of the schools, and local, state, and federal laws governing education. Board member ethics typically mandate that decisions cannot be made based on political or personal beliefs, and that personal gain cannot be a factor in making determinations for the schools.