Informal Ethical Problem Solving of Colleague's Misconduct

School psychologists are aware of their responsibility to address instances of a colleague's ethical and professional misconduct. The NASP Ethical Principles make this responsibility clear:

Note: The following standards reflect content from the 2010 Principles for Professional Ethics. Look for updates soon reflecting the NASP 2020 Professional Standards.

Standard IV.3.2. When a school psychologist suspects that another school psychologist or another professional has engaged in unethical practices, he or she attempts to resolve the suspected problem through a collegial problem-solving process, if feasible.

Standard IV.3.3. If a collegial problem-solving process is not possible or productive, school psychologists take further action appropriate to the situation, including discussing the situation with a supervisor in the employment setting, consulting state association ethics committees, and, if necessary, filing a formal ethical violation complaint with state associations, state credentialing bodies, or the NASP Ethical and Professional Practices Committee in accordance with their procedures.

Standard IV.3.4. When school psychologists are concerned about unethical practices by professionals who are not NASP members or do not hold the NCSP, informal contact is made to discuss the concern if feasible. If the situation cannot be resolved in this manner, discussing the situation with the professional's supervisor should be considered. If necessary, an appropriate professional organization or state credentialing agency could be contacted to determine the procedures established by that professional association or agency for examining the practices in question.

Importantly, Standard IV.3.3 acknowledges that collegial problem solving may not be possible or productive and other approaches must be sought. Many school psychologists are reluctant to confront a colleague about possible misconduct possibly because they feel inadequately prepared to do so or are concerned about the colleague's reaction. When school psychologists find themselves in this situation, consider the following strategies:

  • Approach colleagues with the goal of helping them improve their professional performance.
  • Avoid a judgmental tone and making colleagues feel defensive.
  • Express concerns about specific actions; avoid generalizations.
  • Convey the seriousness of the situation and need for action.
  • It may be necessary to consult a trusted colleague about the manner in which the situation should be addressed.
  • Document attempts to address the matter with the colleague.

Other General Recommendations