Utah Department of Administrative Services Office of Administrative Rules

Utah Administrative Code

The Utah Administrative Code is the body of all effective administrative rules as compiled and organized by the Division of Administrative Rules (see Subsection 63G-3-102(5); see also Sections 63G-3-701 and 702).

NOTE: For a list of rules that have been made effective since October 1, 2016, please see the codification segue page.

NOTE TO RULEFILING AGENCIES: Use the RTF version for submitting rule changes.

R277. Education, Administration.

Rule R277-515. Utah Educator Professional Standards.

As in effect on October 1, 2016

Table of Contents

R277-515-1. Authority and Purpose.

(1) This rule is authorized by:

(a) Utah Constitution Article X, Section 3, which vests the general control and supervision of the public schools in the Board;

(b) Subsection 53A-1-402(1)(a), which directs the Board to make rules regarding the certification of educators;

(c) Title 53A, Chapter 6, Educator Licensing and Professional Practices Act, which provides all laws related to educator licensing and professional practices; and

(d) Section 53A-1-401, which allows the Board to make rules to execute the Board's duties and responsibilities under the Utah Constitution and state law.

(2) The purpose of this rule is to:

(a) establish statewide standards for public school educators that provide notice to educators and prospective educators and notice and protection to public school students and parents;

(b) recognize that licensed public school educators are professionals and, as such, should share common professional standards, expectations, and role model responsibilities; and

(c) distinguish behavior for which educators shall receive license discipline from behavior that all Utah educators should aspire to and for which license discipline shall be initiated only in egregious circumstances or following a pattern of offenses.

R277-515-2. Definitions.

(1)(a) "Boundary violation" means crossing verbal, physical, emotional, and social lines that an educator must maintain in order to ensure structure, security, and predictability in an educational environment.

(b) A "boundary violation" may include the following, depending on the circumstances:

(i) isolated, one-on-one interactions with students out of the line of sight of others;

(ii) meeting with students in rooms with covered or blocked windows;

(iii) telling risqu� jokes to, or in the presence of a student;

(iv) employing favoritism to a student;

(v) giving gifts to individual students;

(vi) educator initiated frontal hugging or other uninvited touching;

(vii) photographing individual students for a non-educational purpose or use;

(viii) engaging in inappropriate or unprofessional contact outside of educational program activities;

(ix) exchanging personal email or phone numbers with a student for a non-educational purpose or use;

(x) interacting privately with a student through social media, computer, or handheld devices; and

(xi) discussing an educator's personal life or personal issues with a student.

(c) "Boundary violations" does not include:

(i) offering praise, encouragement, or acknowledgment;

(ii) offering rewards available to all who achieve;

(iii) asking permission to touch for necessary purposes;

(iv) giving pats on the back or a shoulder;

(v) giving side hugs;

(vi) giving handshakes or high fives;

(vii) offering warmth and kindness;

(viii) utilizing public social media alerts to groups of students and parents; or

(ix) contact permitted by an IEP or 504 plan.

(2) "Core Standard" means a statement:

(a) of what a student enrolled in a public school is expected to know and be able to do at a specific grade level or following completion of an identified course; and

(b) established by the Board in Rule R277-700 as required by Section 53A-1-402.

(3) "Diversion agreement" means an agreement between a prosecutor and defendant entered into prior to a conviction delaying prosecution of a criminal charge for a specified period of time and contingent upon the defendant satisfying certain conditions.

(4)(a) "Educator" or "professional educator" means a person who currently holds a Utah educator license, held a license at the time of an alleged offense, is an applicant for a license, or is a person in training to obtain a license.

(b) "Professional educator" does not include a paraprofessional, a volunteer, or an unlicensed teacher in a classroom.

(5) "Illegal drug" means a substance included in:

(a) Schedules I, II, III, IV, or V established in Section 58-37-4;

(b) Schedules I, II, III, IV, or V of the federal Controlled Substances Act, Title II, Pub. L. No. 91-513; or

(c) any controlled substance analog.

(6) Grooming" means befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child or a child's family to lower the child's inhibitions for emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.

(7) "LEA" or "local education agency" for purposes of this rule includes the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

(8) "Licensing discipline" means a sanction, including an admonition, a letter of warning, a written reprimand, suspension of license, and revocation of license, or other appropriate disciplinary measure, for violation of a professional educator standard.

(9) "Misdemeanor offense," for purposes of this rule, does not include Class C or lower violations of Title 41, Utah Motor Vehicle Code.

(10) "Plea in abeyance" means a plea of guilty or no contest that is not entered as a judgment or conviction but is held by a court in abeyance for a specified period of time.

(11) "School-related activity" means any event, activity, or program:

(a) occurring at the school before, during, or after school hours; or

(b) that a student attends at a remote location as a representative of the school or with the school's authorization, or both.

(12) "Stalking" means the act of intentionally or knowingly engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person as defined in Section 76-5-106.5.

(13) "Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission" or "UPPAC" means an advisory commission established to assist and advise the Board in matters relating to the professional practices of educators, as established by Section 53A-6-301.

(14) "Weapon" means any item that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.

R277-515-3. Educator as a Role Model of Civic and Societal Responsibility.

(1) The professional educator is responsible for compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

(2) The professional educator shall familiarize himself or herself with professional ethics and is responsible for compliance with applicable professional standards.

(3) Failing to strictly adhere to Subsection (4) shall result in licensing discipline.

(4) The professional educator, upon receiving a Utah educator license:

(a) may not be convicted of any felony or misdemeanor offense that adversely affects the individual's ability to perform an assigned duty and carry out the responsibilities of the profession, including role model responsibility;

(b) may not be convicted of or commit any act of violence or abuse, including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of any person;

(c) may not commit any act of cruelty to a child or any criminal offense involving a child;

(d) may not be convicted of a stalking crime;

(e) may not possess or distribute an illegal drug or be convicted of any crime related to an illegal drug, including a prescription drug not specifically prescribed for the individual;

(f) may not engage in conduct of a sexual nature described in Section 53A-6-405;

(g) may not be subject to a diversion agreement specific to a sex-related or drug-related offense, plea in abeyance, court-imposed probation, or court supervision related to a criminal charge that could adversely impact the educator's ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of the profession;

(h) may not provide to a student or allow a student under the educator's supervision or control to consume an alcoholic beverage or unauthorized drug;

(i) may not attend school or a school-related activity in an assigned supervisory capacity while possessing, using, or under the influence of alcohol or an illegal drug;

(j) may not intentionally exceed the prescribed dosage of a prescription medication while at school or a school-related activity;

(k) shall cooperate in providing all relevant information and evidence to the proper authority in the course of an investigation by a law enforcement agency or by the Division of Child and Family Services regarding potential criminal activity, except that an educator may decline to give evidence against himself or herself in an investigation if the evidence may tend to incriminate the educator as that term is defined by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution;

(l) shall report suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement or the Division of Child and Family Services pursuant to Sections 53A-6-502 and 62A-4a-409 and comply with rules and LEA policy regarding the reporting of suspected child abuse;

(m) shall strictly adhere to state laws regarding the possession of a firearm while on school property or at a school-sponsored activity and enforce an LEA policy related to student access to or possession of a weapon;

(n) may not solicit, encourage, or consummate an inappropriate relationship, whether written, verbal, or physical, with a student or minor;

(o) may not engage in grooming of a student or minor;

(p) may not:

(i) participate in sexual, physical, or emotional harassment towards any public school-age student or colleague; or

(ii) knowingly allow harassment toward a student or colleague;

(q) may not make inappropriate contact in any communication, including written, verbal, or electronic, with a minor, student, or colleague, regardless of age or location;

(r) may not interfere or discourage a student's or colleague's legitimate exercise of political and civil rights, acting consistent with law and LEA policy;

(s) shall provide accurate and complete information in a required evaluation of himself or herself, another educator, or student, as directed, consistent with the law;

(t) shall be forthcoming with accurate and complete information to an appropriate authority regarding known educator misconduct that could adversely impact performance of a professional responsibility, including a role model responsibility, by himself or herself, or another;

(u) shall provide accurate and complete information required for licensure, transfer, or employment purposes;

(v) shall provide accurate and complete information regarding qualifications, degrees, academic or professional awards or honors, and related employment history when applying for employment or licensure;

(w) shall notify the Superintendent at the time of application for licensure of past license disciplinary action or license discipline from another jurisdiction;

(x) shall notify the Superintendent honestly and completely of past criminal convictions at the time of the license application and renewal of licenses; and

(y) shall provide complete and accurate information during an official inquiry or investigation by LEA, state, or law enforcement personnel.

(5) An LEA shall report violations described in Subsection (4) to UPPAC.

(6)(a) Failure to adhere to this Subsection (6) may result in licensing discipline.

(b) A penalty shall be imposed, most readily, if an educator has received a previous documented warning from the educator's employer.

(c) An educator may not:

(i) exclude a student from participating in any program or deny or grant any benefit to any student on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, marital status, political or religious belief, physical or mental condition, family, social, or cultural background, or sexual orientation; and

(ii) may not engage in conduct that would encourage a student to develop a prejudice on the grounds described in Subsection (6)(c)(i) or any other, consistent with the law.

(d) An educator shall maintain confidentiality concerning a student unless revealing confidential information to an authorized person serves the best interest of the student and serves a lawful purpose, consistent with:

(i) Title 53A, Chapter 13, Part 3, Utah Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act; and

(ii) the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Acts, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g and 34 CFR Part 99.

(e) Consistent with Title 67, Chapter 16, Utah Public Officers' and Employees' Ethics Act, Section 53A-1-402.5, and rule, a professional educator:

(i) may not accept a bonus or incentive from a vendor or potential vendor or a gift from a parent of a student, or a student where there may be the appearance of a conflict of interest or impropriety;

(ii) may not accept or give a gift to a student that would suggest or further an inappropriate relationship;

(iii) may not accept or give a gift to a colleague that is inappropriate or furthers the appearance of impropriety;

(iv) may accept a donation from a student, parent, or business donating specifically and strictly to benefit a student;

(v) may accept, but not solicit, a nominal appropriate personal gift for a birthday, holiday, or teacher appreciation occasion, consistent with LEA policy and Title 67, Chapter 16, Utah Public Officers' and Employees' Ethics Act;

(vi) may not use the educator's position or influence to:

(A) solicit a colleague, student, or parent of a student to purchase equipment, supplies, or services from the educator or participate in an activity that financially benefits the educator unless approved in writing by the LEA; or

(B) promote an athletic camp, summer league, travel opportunity, or other outside instructional opportunity from which the educator receives personal remuneration and that involve students in the educator's school system, unless approved in writing consistent with LEA policy and rule; and

(vii) may not use school property, a facility, or equipment for personal enrichment, commercial gain, or for personal uses without express supervisor permission.

R277-515-4. Educator Responsibility for Maintaining a Safe Learning Environment and Educational Standards.

(1) A professional educator maintains a positive and safe learning environment for a student and works toward meeting an educational standard required by law.

(2)(a) Failure to strictly adhere to this Subsection (2) shall result in licensing discipline.

(b) The professional educator, upon receiving a Utah educator license:

(i) shall take prompt and appropriate action to prevent harassment or discriminatory conduct toward a student or school employee that may result in a hostile, intimidating, abusive, offensive, or oppressive learning environment;

(ii) shall resolve a disciplinary problem according to law, LEA policy, and local building procedures and strictly protect student confidentiality and understand laws relating to student information and records;

(iii) shall supervise a student appropriately at school and a school-related activity, home or away, consistent with LEA policy and building procedures and the age of the students;

(iv) shall take action to protect a student from any known condition detrimental to that student's physical health, mental health, safety, or learning;

(v)(A) shall demonstrate honesty and integrity by strictly adhering to all state and LEA instructions and protocols in managing and administering a standardized test to a student consistent with Section 53A-1-608 and Rule R277-404;

(B) shall cooperate in good faith with a required student assessment;

(C) shall submit and include all required student information and assessments, as required by statute and rule; and

(D) shall attend training and cooperate with assessment training and assessment directives at all levels;

(vi) may not use or attempt to use an LEA computer or information system in violation of the LEA's acceptable use policy for an employee or access information that may be detrimental to young people or inconsistent with the educator's role model responsibility; and

(vii) may not knowingly possess, while at school or any school-related activity, any pornographic material in any form.

(3) An LEA shall report violations of Subsection (2) to UPPAC.

(4)(a) Failure to adhere to this Subsection (4) may result in licensing discipline.

(b) A penalty shall be imposed, most readily, if an educator has received a previous documented warning from the educator's employer.

(c) A professional educator:

(i) shall demonstrate respect for a diverse perspective, idea, and opinion and encourage contributions from a broad spectrum of school and community sources, including a community whose heritage language is not English;

(ii) shall use appropriate language, eschewing profane, foul, offensive, or derogatory comments or language;

(iii) shall maintain a positive and safe learning environment for a student;

(iv) shall make appropriate use of technology by:

(A) involving students in social media responsibly, transparently, and primarily for purposes of teaching and learning per school and district policy;

(B) maintaining separate professional and personal virtual profiles;

(C) respecting student privacy on social media; and

(D) taking appropriate and reasonable measures to maintain confidentiality of student information and education records stored or transmitted through the use of electronic or computer technology;

(v) shall work toward meeting an educational standard required by law;

(vi) shall teach the objectives contained in a Core Standard;

(vii) may not distort or alter subject matter from a Core Standard in a manner inconsistent with the law;

(viii) shall use instructional time effectively consistent with LEA policy; and

(ix) shall encourage a student's best effort in an assessment.

R277-515-5. Professional Educator Responsibility for Compliance with LEA Policy.

(1)(a) Failure to strictly adhere to this Subsection (1) shall result in licensing discipline.

(b) A professional educator:

(i) understands, respects, and does not violate appropriate boundaries:

(A) established by ethical rules and school policy and directive in teaching, supervising, and interacting with a student or colleague; and

(B) described in Subsection R277-515-2(1); and

(ii) shall conduct financial business with integrity by honestly accounting for all funds committed to the educator's charge, as school responsibilities require, consistent with LEA policy.

(2) An LEA shall report violations of Subsection (1) to UPPAC.

(3)(a) Failure to adhere to this Subsection (3) may result in licensing discipline.

(b) A penalty shall be imposed most readily, if an educator has received a previous documented warning from the educator's employer.

(c) The professional educator:

(i) understands and follows a rule and LEA policy;

(ii) understands and follows a school or administrative policy or procedure;

(iii) resolves a grievance with a student, colleague, school community member, and parent professionally, with civility, and in accordance with LEA policy; and

(iv) follows LEA policy for collecting money from a student, accounting for all money collected, and not commingling any school funds with personal funds.

R277-515-6. Professional Educator Conduct.

(1) A professional educator exhibits integrity and honesty in relationships with an LEA administrator or personnel.

(2)(a) Failure to adhere to this Subsection (2) may result in licensing discipline.

(b) A penalty shall be imposed most readily, if an educator has received a previous documented warning from the educator's employer.

(c) The professional educator:

(i) shall communicate professionally and with civility with a colleague, school and community specialist, administrator, and other personnel;

(ii) shall maintain a professional and appropriate relationship and demeanor with a student, colleague, school community member, and parent;

(iii) may not promote a personal opinion, personal issue, or political position as part of the instructional process in a manner inconsistent with law;

(iv) shall express a personal opinion professionally and responsibly in the community served by the school;

(v) shall comply with an LEA policy, supervisory directive, and generally-accepted professional standard regarding appropriate dress and grooming at school and at a school-related event;

(vi) shall work diligently to improve the educator's own professional understanding, judgment, and expertise;

(vii) shall honor all contracts for a professional service;

(viii) shall perform all services required or directed by the educator's contract with the LEA with professionalism consistent with LEA policy and rule; and

(ix) shall recruit another educator for employment in another position only within a LEA timeline and guideline.

R277-515-7. Violations of Professional Ethics.

(1) This rule establishes standards of ethical decorum and behavior for licensed educators in the state.

(2)(a) Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, every active licensed educator shall review this rule and annually execute a form approved by the Superintendent verifying that the educator:

(i) has read R277-515 and R277-516; and

(ii) understands that the educator's conduct is governed by R277-515 and R277-516.

(b) Failure to submit the form identified in Subsection (a) by September 30 may result in licensing discipline.

(3) Provisions of this rule do not prevent, circumvent, replace, nor mirror criminal or potential charges that may be issued against a professional educator.

(4) The Board and Superintendent shall adhere to the provisions of this rule in licensing and disciplining a licensed Utah educator.

(5) Reporting and employment provisions related to professional ethics are provided in:

(a) Section 53A-15-1507;

(b) Section 53A-6-501;

(c) Section 53A-11-403; and

(d) Section R277-516-7.


educators, professional, standards

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment

August 12, 2016

Notice of Continuation

November 15, 2012

Authorizing, Implemented, or Interpreted Law

Art X Sec 3; 53A-1-402(1)(a); 53A-6; 53A-1-401

Additional Information


For questions regarding the content or application of rules under Title R277, please contact the promulgating agency (Education, Administration). A list of agencies with links to their homepages is available at http://www.utah.gov/government/agencylist.html or from http://www.rules.utah.gov/contact/agencycontacts.htm.