Are you an educator in GA facing disciplinary action? At the Lento Law Firm, we understand how stressful this time can be. To help you prepare for what's to come, here is an overview of how educator investigations proceed in Georgia and how you might defend the accusations.
If your teaching certificate is at risk, you need to act fast. You deserve representation from attorneys with the experience, grit, and determination to help you succeed. That's where our Professional License Defense Team comes in. We're waiting to support you no matter what type of complaints you're dealing with. To discuss your case, call us at 888.535.3686.
Georgia Educator Regulatory Bodies
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaSPC) has the authority to investigate complaints against educators in Georgia. They can create, implement, and reinforce professional teaching standards. This authority stems from Title 20 of the GA Administrative Code.
The GaSPC exists to hold educators to rigorous standards. These standards help to ensure that every child in Georgia receives a quality education. However, the GaSPC can't investigate every complaint, and they're only authorized to take certain actions against a teaching certificate.
Teaching License Investigations in Georgia
You may be unsure what type of proceedings you face when your certificate is under threat. Is this a civil matter – or are there criminal consequences?
Teaching certificate investigations are not civil or criminal. Instead, they're administrative. Administrative proceedings take place between state agencies or government bodies, and individuals. Such agencies can only act within the scope of their legal jurisdiction. The only actions they can take against you relate to your professional license or teaching certificate.
That said, administrative proceedings are still a formal process. They can be inherently complex. There are many rules to follow, and hearings take place before a judge, as with civil hearings.
Will I Face Criminal Charges?
Not by default. You will only face criminal charges if you're accused of a crime under state or federal law. The GaSPC cannot impose criminal penalties – such as jail time – and sanctions don't mean you'll have a criminal record.
When the GaPSC Can Investigate Teachers
The GaSPC can investigate teachers – and issue sanctions – if the teacher violates GA's Code of Ethics for Educators or commits an act of moral turpitude. They may also investigate complaints of educators falling below the expected professional standards.
- Code of Ethics violations: Examples of unethical conduct include inappropriate relations with students, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol on school grounds, and violating student confidentiality.
- Moral turpitude: Conduct that falls into this category includes deceitful, dishonest, or immoral conduct. Examples include fraud, theft, and serious violent crimes.
The GaSPC reviews complaints received monthly. Should they decide that the complaint warrants investigation, they will notify the teacher concerned. The investigation may include interviewing the teacher, talking to witnesses, and reviewing documented evidence.
The Hearing Process
If you do not accept the proposed sanctions, you have 30 days to request an administrative hearing.
- The Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH) will appoint a judge to hear the case. Your hearing will take place within the OSAH offices at 230 Peachtree Street, Suite 850, Atlanta, GA 30303.
- After hearing from witnesses and reviewing the evidence, the OSAH makes a recommendation (known as the “Initial Decision”) to the GaSPC.
- The educator can accept the proposed sanctions or file an appeal with the Superior Court within 30 days.
There's always the chance that the OSAH will recommend tougher sanctions than the GaSPC initially proposed. A lawyer can explain the pros and cons of seeking an administrative hearing.
Disciplinary Actions and Consequences
There are six possible outcomes following GaSPC investigations.
- Warning: A formal warning in writing. Your certificate remains active. However, you may be advised that your certificate is at risk if any further complaints are made against you.
- Reprimand: A reprimand is more formal than a warning, but the outcomes are similar. Again, you may be advised that you face suspension or revocation for future incidents.
- Monitoring: You must cooperate with the GaSPC and agree to quarterly performance reviews. Concerns may lead to further action.
- Suspension: Your teaching certificate is suspended for a specific period. At the end of this period, your certificate is reinstated unless it expires in the meantime. If your certificate expires, you can apply for a new one.
- Denial: Your application for a certificate is denied. You might appeal to the GaSPC and seek a Right to Reapply. There's no guarantee that your appeal will be successful.
- Revocation: Your certificate is revoked. You cannot teach, volunteer, or work as an educator. After three years, you may seek the Right to Reapply for a certificate.
The GaSPC can impose one or more sanctions – what they deem proportionate depends on the case. Your attorney can help you understand what disciplinary action you might face depending on the complaint(s) against you.
Appealing License Sanctions Against Teachers in Georgia
You may be able to appeal a decision by petitioning the GaSPC. To appeal, you can either request a hearing as described above or appeal an OSAH decision by seeking judicial review.
Appeals are your final chance to demonstrate why you deserve to keep your license. You should instruct an attorney to represent you if you have not already done so.
The Long-Term Consequences of License Suspension or Revocation
Aside from rendering you unable to teach in GA, we must not overlook the other potential consequences of teaching license sanctions.
- License revocation or suspension most likely means you're unable to teach anywhere in the US unless your license is reinstated.
- Family and friends may treat you differently after disciplinary action, even if the accusations were exaggerated or unfounded.
- A disciplinary hearing could knock your confidence in your own teaching abilities. Lacking confidence could make it harder for you to grow professionally.
- You may experience anxiety or stress after dealing with disciplinary matters. These issues can become chronic and lead to long-term mental health issues if they're not addressed quickly.
There's a significant amount at stake when your license is on the line. Don't leave anything to chance – hire an experienced Georgia license defense attorney.
Getting a Teaching Certificate Back After License Revocation
Teaching certificate revocation is, by its nature, deemed to be a permanent solution. However, there are ways to reapply for a teaching certificate even after revocation.
In Georgia, you may petition for a new teaching certificate if:
- At least three years have passed since you lost your teaching certificate; and
- The reason(s) you lost your certificate are no longer applicable.
You may be unable to get your license back if you're found guilty of certain felony crimes, such as felony sex crimes against a student.
Before you can apply for a new certificate, you must petition the GaSPC for the right to do so. You don't need an attorney for this; however, a license defense attorney may help you present your case in the most compelling possible way. Our Professional License Defense Team can advise you on how to petition the GaSPC, and we'll represent you at any applicable hearings.
Do I Need an Attorney to Help Defend My Teaching License?
According to the GaSPC, it's not necessary to hire an attorney – even if there's a disciplinary hearing. However, just because you can represent yourself does not mean it's in your best interests to do so.
- There's often a considerable amount of negotiating involved in disciplinary proceedings. If you lack experience dealing with the GaSPC, you may not be best prepared for making your case. License defense attorneys understand how to approach these discussions effectively to negotiate a favorable outcome.
- The GaSPC has state backing. It has considerable resources available to investigate complaints. You're putting yourself at a disadvantage from the outset if you do not invest in your own defense.
- Disciplinary action is, by its very nature, stressful. The stakes are high, and the consequences can be grave. After investing so much time in your career, you deserve a fair opportunity to defend yourself against any accusations. Having an attorney on your side will help you feel calmer and more in control of the situation.
- This is not a time for taking chances. Although you are a skilled educator, you may not be familiar with the disciplinary rules that apply to you. Let an experienced attorney guide you so that you know exactly what to expect at every stage.
The GaSPC will not hesitate to discipline teachers. This includes suspending or revoking teaching certificates. By retaining an attorney to help you through the disciplinary process, you can feel confident that you're doing everything possible to protect your livelihood.
How Our Professional License Defense Team Can Help
When your livelihood is in jeopardy, you need attorneys on your side who you can count on. That's why our experienced Professional License Defense Team is here for you whenever you need us. Should you retain our services, here is what you can expect from our team.
- Dedication: We believe that your certificate matters. We care about defending your right to remain in the teaching profession. And we will bring this level of commitment to every educator we serve. Your license matters to us – we will help you protect it.
- Knowledge: Disciplinary action can be complex. Our team understands the laws, regulations, and conduct codes involved, and we will use them to your advantage where possible. We will ensure that the GaSPC respects your rights and follows due process.
- Experience: We have represented numerous educators across the US and helped them challenge license revocation or suspension. We understand how the investigation process works and what's required to make a compelling case in your favor.
- Guidance: Our team understands that this is a hugely stressful time for you. That's why we are on hand to offer support and advice when you need it most. There's no such thing as asking too many questions – we're here to ensure you understand exactly what to expect at every stage of the process.
- Strategy: We know that every license investigation is unique. Our license defense attorneys will examine the complaint against you and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case. We will explain how best to defend the allegations based on the evidence available. And we will ensure that you have a fair chance at securing the most favorable outcome in the circumstances.
Our team serves educators all across the US. We will ensure that you have a fair chance to defend yourself against any allegations, no matter how serious or complex. Contact us now to discuss your situation.
Experienced Attorneys Defending Educators Across Georgia
Although it might be tempting to handle license issues alone, it's best to retain an experienced attorney to help. We support educators across Georgia in every school district, including:
- Bremen City
- Bibb County
- Carroll County
- DeKalb County
- Jefferson City
- Polk County
- Richmond County
Our nationwide team serves educators at all levels, from highly experienced teachers to newly qualified individuals. Your license matters to us – we're here to help every GA teacher no matter where in the state you're located.
Georgia Teacher Licensing Defense | Lento Law Firm
The students of Georgia deserve a quality education provided by competent teachers. At the Lento Law Firm, we know you deserve the chance to educate these students and help them reach their full potential. We're committed to supporting every teacher, no matter what accusations they face.
Whether we seek to have the allegations dismissed or mitigate disciplinary action, we will ensure you feel supported and understood. We will stand by your side and guide you through the disciplinary process, and we'll explain every option available so you can make informed choices.