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Unprofessional Conduct: Board of Education & Privacy Violation Case Study

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2022

The Board of Education and Violation of Privacy

Mrs. Pettit, who was a dedicated teacher, was accused of being immoral after attending “The Swingers” private club in Los Angeles (Shaw, 2013). In this case, the Board of Education violated the privacy rules since the party was private, and only Mrs. Pettit and her husband were invited. Consequently, attending this event would not have any adverse impact on her students, as they would not be able to participate or get any information. Apart from the need to monitor the actions of employees at work, a right to privacy is still one of the civil liberties, as every citizen of the United States of America has a right to have a personal life (Shaw, 2013). Based on the factors provided above, the Board of Education had no legal grounds to get involved in Mrs. Pettit’s life, and any organization has to take into account these considerations for ethical decision-making.

The first reason for no right to fire her was the fact that the Board of Education violated a right to privacy. In turn, no connection between the attendance of the swinger party, accusations in oral copulations, and her teaching practice were found. For example, some of her fellow teachers defined her as a dedicated professional (Shaw, 2013). Consequently, there were no legal grounds for discharge, as her actions complied with the school’s rules and policies while delivering outstanding outcomes. Furthermore, the Supreme Court did not find any reasons for firing Mrs. Pettit while questioning the rationale behind the actions of the Board of Education.

Evaluation of Pettit’s Behavior

In the context of the case study, the actions of Mrs. Pettit could not be characterized as unprofessional or immoral since she attended a private meeting in Los Angeles. Simultaneously, it had no direct impact on her skills as a teacher, as her students and colleagues stated that she was a valued specialist (Shaw, 2013). When referring to different ethical theories, her actions outside school could be discovered as appropriate due to their privacy. For example, according to virtue ethics, the attendance of “The Swingers” could be considered as moral, as it had no impact on her characteristics such as dedication and commitment.

Utilitarian ethics also do not find any connection between her teaching practice and profession. For example, the main goal of this theory is to increase the utility and maximize the level of happiness (Shaw, 2013). Due to the lack of the link, her actions in the classroom tend to have a positive impact on the education of students and motivate them to have outstanding educational performance. The only theory that may question the appropriateness of her activities is Kantianism since it evaluates the matters and values that trigger particular actions (Shaw, 2013).

Nonetheless, Mrs. Pettit’s activities both inside and outside the classroom, comply with the major values of this ethical approach, as she treats everyone with respect, care, and love. Based on the findings indicated above Mrs. Pettit is fit to teach due to the compliance of her actions with the rules of the school and diverse ethical theories, positive feedback from fellow teacher and students, no connection between her actions inside and outside the school, and a high level of devotion, motivation, and respect.

Moral Standards Outside the Classroom

I believe that teachers do not have to have higher moral and ethical standards outside the classroom, as they have a right to private life and only obliged to follow the laws of the country (Shaw, 2013). However, on the other hand, teachers have to consider the example of Mrs. Pettit and avoid similar situations in their future since it may damage their reputation. Even though Mrs. Pettit’s behavior had no effect on her qualifications as a teacher, as she was treating her students with respect, it was logical to avoid getting involved in similar activities (Shaw, 2013).

The primary reason for that is the fact that teachers are discovered as public figures and role models, and not complying with the commonly accepted ethical norms and having slightly deviant behavior may raise concerns among parents and colleagues (Shaw, 2013). Avoiding similar situations will help teachers keep their social and corporate responsibilities in balance, minimize the cases of discharge and legal problems, and associate their behavior with ethical standards perceived in the society, as attending swinger parties is viewed as negative since the teacher sets a wrong example for students.

Five Behaviors That Show Unprofessional or Immoral Conduct

In the first place, treating children with disrespect along with discrimination is an inappropriate behavior of a teacher, as all students have to be treated equally, disregarding their race, socio-economic status, and background (Shaw, 2013). Consequently, due to the importance of equality and diversity, a teacher should not prioritize one student over others, as it will question the effectiveness of the evaluation system and his/her ethics as a teacher. At the same time, lying to students and violating laws can also be considered as inappropriate, as it lacks not only compliance with a common image of a teacher but also questions his/her ability to be a role model. A combination of these factors signifies that a teacher has not only to be highly dedicated but also treat students with respect and be an example. In this case, Mrs. Pettit’s actions do not meet the terms of the commonly accepted principles of teacher’s behavior, but the Board of Education still has no legal evidence for discharge.


Shaw, W. (2013). Business ethics: A textbook with cases. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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