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Legal Wins

Litigation Update — Fighting For Your Rights!

Rebecca Barnes, and GAE v. the Fannin County Charter Schools System.
Published: February 18, 2023

A veteran classroom teacher and loyal GAE member, Ms. Rebecca Barnes had vested Fair Dismissal Act (FDA) due process rights before Fannin County Schools entered into a charter school system agreement with the State Board of Education in 2015 that eliminated tenure protections for teachers. Then, at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, Fannin Schools decided to nonrenew Ms. Barnes’ contract without providing her FDA rights including the reasons for her nonrenewal andan opportunity for a hearing to challenge those reasons.
Because Georgia’s courts had not specifically ruled on the constitutionality of charter system’s denying tenured teachers their Fair Dismissal Rights, Ms. Barnes’ was unable to defend her job. In 2019, a Fulton County trial court judge issued a ruling indicating, incredibly, the waiver of FDA due process rights was “settled” by Day v. Floyd County, 333 Ga. App. 144 (2015).

The Day decision held that school districts could waive the FDA as a statutory matter — the state can giveth and the state can taketh away. However, Day did not entertain or decide any constitutional issues and those issues are front and center in the Barnes litigation. Disappointed but undeterred, we filed an appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals. October 14, 2020, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision, ordering the trial court to address the constitutional questions raised in the first instance. A20A1041, Barnes and GAE v. Beardon (Beardon is the last name of Fannin’s superintendent). To its everlasting credit, the Court of Appeals clearly understood that Day did not rule on constitutional issues and instructed the trial court issue a new ruling on the constitutional issues. That case has been docketed in the trial court and we’re cautiously optimistic of a ruling in Ms. Barnes’ favor.


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The Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) is Georgia's premier professional association for public school employees. We are a member-led organization supporting students and educators in Georgia's public schools through grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and legal action.