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PSC WIN –VICTORY FOR ALL!

The GAE member was a fifth grade teacher who proctored a CRCT test in April 2010. After the test, another teacher told the school principal that some of the students were saying that the teacher “gave some answers on the test.” The school district asked seven students to sit at a table and write down anything they had seen or heard that was irregular. The test coordinator reviewed the test booklets and answer sheets of four students who made statements and found no erasures. The coordinator reported that the students had identical questions and answers on the page that contained the question that the teacher was accused of helping (the children were not given the exact same test in the exact same order of questions), and three of them had answered the question incorrectly. One of those was the student who said the teacher gave her the correct answer to that question. The coordinator concluded there was nothing consistent about erasures from student to student. The school district investigator stated that the teacher was “very forthright” and was not attempting to conceal anything. All that being said, the PSC recommended a one year suspension of Lee’s certificate.

The teacher appealed. After filing her appeal, the teacher had to wait about 20 months for her hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). At the end of the hearing on August 12, 2012, the ALJ refused to keep the record open to allow the teacher time to enforce subpoenas for critical testimony from students and the only adult witness that was present during the testing when the alleged improprieties occurred. Astonishingly, the ALJ denied the attorney’s request to continue the hearing and keep the record open, reasoning that the matter had been pending for some time and “it’s in the interests of everyone to expeditiously conclude it…there appears to be sufficient evidence on this issue for me to make a determination.” Compounding the injustice, the ALJ affirmed the PSC’s recommendation to suspend her certificate for one year.

The GAE network attorney immediately petitioned the superior court in Richmond County. After a hearing, the superior court issued a ruling reversing the ALJ in that the teacher was not afforded due process because she was unable to attempt to enforce her administrative subpoenas though superior court as provided under OCGA 50-13-13 (7) (9). Incredibly, the PSC decided to appeal the superior court’s decision to the Georgia Court of appeals. To its credit, the Court of appeals ruled that the ALJ violated Lee’s due process rights by not allowing the teacher the opportunity to present evidence from her witnesses.

You can read the entire decision here http://www.gaappeals.us/ Professional Standards Commission v. Lee A15A0363, July 13, 2015. Legal representation provided by GAE network attorney Jack Long.