When the scandal at Penn State broke and the president was replaced, the new interim president said that in the future, Penn State would “not only do what is required under the law; we will do what is right.” The statement speaks to what is expected to meet the minimum legal requirement as compared to society’s expectation. In Virginia the law requires suspected abuse to be reported to a superior. Once that is done the minimum requirement has been met. In education, we are held to a higher standard by our ethics as well as the expectations of society.
Our ethics come into play when the letter of the law is met, but the results do not satisfy our sense of what is right. If at any point any of people involved in the issue at Penn State had followed up, would they have been satisfied with the results? What if the situation had involved a family member? Would the results still be satisfactory? Questioning about what had been done about the situation was not required, but it would have been appropriate. As an educator, I am charged with ensuring the well-being of my students. This requires me to meet the letter of the law but also to do what is right.