Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 506-3-.02 - Investigations and Recommendations as to Disciplinary Actions

Current through Rules and Regulations filed through April 4, 2022

(1) Procedures for Suspension or Revocation of Certificates.
(a) Investigation.
1. General. Upon receipt of information from the State Board, the Professional Standards Commission, the State Superintendent, the State Department, or Local Board, a local superintendent, any certified educator, or any individual resident of this State, who has cause to believe that a holder of a Georgia Educator Certificate has committed any offense for which the penalty is suspension or revocation of a certificate as provided in paragraph (3) below, the Commission shall conduct an investigation into the matter for the purpose of determining whether probable cause exists to believe that the educator has committed an act which warrants suspension or revocation proceedings to be instituted.
2. Report. Such investigation ordered by the Executive Director shall yield a written report to be submitted to the Executive Committee for probable cause determination.
3. Probable Cause. If no probable cause is found, the Executive Director shall advise the person requesting the investigation or providing information of such findings. No further proceedings shall be had in the matter and the case shall be closed. If the Executive Committee finds probable cause, the Executive Director shall direct the filing of a Petition for Revocation or Suspension of Educator Certificate.
(b) Petition.
1. Contents. Upon the finding of probable cause, the Executive Director shall file a formal Petition for a suspension or revocation of the certificate with the Commission. The Chairperson of the Commission shall be named Petitioner, and the certificate holder shall be named Respondent throughout the proceedings. The Petition for suspension or revocation of the certificate shall set forth the name and last known address of the educator charged, certificate number held by such educator, the particular act or acts of conduct or performance for which the certificate is sought to be suspended or revoked, and the Petition shall further contain a prayer specifying relief sought by the Petitioner.
2. Service of the Petition and Other Papers. The Petition may be served on the Respondent personally by a process server appointed by the Commission or by Certified Mail, return receipt requested with delivery limited to the addressee only. Service is deemed perfected upon the date of personal service, proof of which shall be filed by the process server with the Commission, or upon the date of personal service, proof of which shall be the receipt returned to the Commission. Service of all other papers after service of the Petition may be made by first class mail addressed to the last known address of the Respondent or to his/her attorney with sufficient postage affixed thereto. Service of all other papers is deemed perfected on the date of mailing.
3. Transmittal Letter. The Petition shall be accompanied by a letter of transmittal to include notification that: the Respondent may answer the Petition, which Answer may include all defenses and pleadings by the Respondent and must include a request for hearing, if so desired. In the alternative, the Respondent may request that he/she be permitted to surrender his/her certificate by filing a Declaration of Request to Surrender. The request shall be presented to the Professional Standards Commission with the recommendation of the Commission. The Answer or Declaration of Request to Surrender must be filed with the Commission on or before 20 days following the date of service of the Petition on the Respondent. If no Answer or Declaration of Surrender of Educator Certificate is filed with the Commission within the specified time, the Respondent shall be deemed to have admitted the allegations of the Petition. In such event, the Petition will be placed on the Professional Standards Commission agenda for final action.
(c) Hearing.
1. General. If a timely request for a hearing is received, the Executive Director or the Commission shall set the time and place for the hearing and shall notify the parties by formal Notice of Hearing accordingly. Notice of Hearing shall be served 20 days prior to the time set forth for the hearing. A Petition or Answer may be amended up to 14 days prior to the hearing. After such time any amendment may be made only with permission from the hearing officer when justice requires. The Petitioner shall prosecute the matter before a hearing tribunal constituted by three members of the Commission, none of whom has participated in nor was an informed party in any preliminary investigation or proceeding in the matter. The Petitioner shall retain an attorney from the staff of the Attorney General's office to represent him/her before the tribunal. The Commission shall appoint a disinterested member of the State Bar of Georgia to serve as hearing officer for the tribunal. The hearing will be conducted in all respects consistent with the requirements of the Georgia Administrative Procedure Act.
2. Notice of Hearing. The Notice of Hearing shall contain:
(i) Time and Location. Time, place, and nature of the proceeding;
(ii) Jurisdiction. The legal authorization and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held;
(iii) Legal Citations. A reference to the particular section of the statutes and policies, rules, or regulations involved;
(iv) Statement of the Case. A short and plain statement of the matters asserted;
(v) Subpoenas. A statement as to the right of any party to subpoena witnesses and documentary evidence through the Commission.
3. Venue. The hearing shall be held in the school district in which the Respondent was employed at the time the alleged offense(s) occurred, or, in the alternative, in Atlanta, Georgia, as the official headquarters of the Commission. Change of venue may be requested for cause and will be so ordered if both parties concur or if deemed necessary by the hearing tribunal upon advice of the hearing officer.
4. Nature and Style of Hearing.
(i) Contested Case. The hearing for suspension or revocation of certificate shall be adversary in character and shall constitute a contested case.
(ii) Discovery. Discovery shall not be available to the parties.
(iii) Evidence. Evidence shall be submitted and ruled upon according to the provisions set forth in the Georgia Administrative Procedure Act.
(iv) Record. All proceedings shall be recorded by stenographic or electronic device and made part of the record.
5. Conduct of Hearing.
(i) Presiding Officer. The hearing shall be conducted by the chairperson of the hearing tribunal. The chairperson shall have authority to administer oaths and affirmations, to regulate the course of the hearing, to set the time and place for continued hearings, to fix the time for filing briefs and memoranda, and to reprimand or exclude from the hearing any person for any improper conduct committed in the presence of the hearing tribunal.
(ii) Hearing Officer. The hearing officer shall have the authority to administer oaths and affirmations if so directed by the presiding officer and to rule on all matters of law, including but not limited to disposition of motions, objections, and other matters concerning the conduct of the proceedings.
(iii) Testimony. All testimony given at the hearing shall be under oath.
(iv) Order of Presentation. The Petitioner shall present its evidence or testimony first, after which the Respondent shall be entitled to present his/her evidence or testimony. The opposing party shall be entitled to cross-examine any witness. Either party shall be entitled to present rebuttal testimony or evidence.
(v) Burden of Persuasion and the Burden of Producing Evidence. The burden of persuasion shall be that of the Petitioner by a preponderance of the credible evidence. The burden of producing evidence initially shall be that of the Petitioner to establish the ground(s) for revocation or suspension. Thereafter the burden shall shift to the Respondent to show why the certificate should not be provoked or suspended, even if the purported ground(s) is (are) establish.
(vi) Oral Presentations. Either party may be allowed to make opening statements and closing arguments.
(d) Decision.
1. Report of the Tribunal. After conclusion of the hearing, the hearing tribunal shall make a report to the Professional Standards Commission for action through the Executive Director. Said report shall be part of the record and shall be served on all parties in the matter. The report shall include findings of fact as to each charge enumerated in the Petition, conclusions of law, and recommendations as to whether the Respondent's certificate should be suspended or revoked, and as to the period of time to be applied.
2. Exceptions. Within 30 days after service of the report, the party may file with the Commission exceptions to said report which will become part of the record and will be submitted to the Professional Standards Commission for consideration and final action. Such proceedings before the Professional Standards Commission shall be conducted pursuant to Professional Standards Commission rules.
(2) Procedures for Denial of Certificates.
(a) Investigation.
1. General. Upon receipt of information from the Professional Standards Commission, the State Board, the State Superintendent, the State Department, a Local Board, a local superintendent, any certified educator, or any individual resident of this State, who has cause to believe that an applicant for a Georgia Educator Certificate has committed any offense for which the penalty is denial of a certificate as provided in subparagraph (3), below, the Commission shall conduct an investigation into the matter for the purpose of determining whether the application for teaching certificate should be denied.
2. Report. Such investigation shall yield a recommendation that the application be denied or that a certificate be issued. In that event the recommendation is that the application be denied, the following procedures shall be applied:
(b) Notification. The Executive Director shall serve notice on the applicant in the manner of service of a Petition of the decision to recommend denial; of the reason(s) on which the decision is based; of the applicant's right to contest the decision by requesting a hearing, which request must be in writing and must be filed within 10 days following service of the notice of proposed denial; that failure to contest denial within the prescribed time will result in the forwarding of the recommendation to the Professional Standards Commission for final action.
(c) Hearing. If a timely request for a hearing is received, the Executive Director shall set the time and place of the hearing and shall notify the parties by Notice of Hearing accordingly. Notice of Hearing shall be served 20 days prior to the time set forth for the Hearing. A Petition or Answer may be amended up to 14 days prior to the hearing. After such time any amendment may be made only with permission from the hearing officer when justice requires. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures governing hearings for suspension and revocation of certificates with the exception of venue and burden of producing evidence. As to venue, the hearing shall be held in Atlanta, Georgia, as the official headquarters of the Commission, or, in the alternative, any site that is mutually agreed upon by the parties. As to burden of producing evidence, the burden of producing evidence establishing the ground(s) for denial shall be the Petitioners'. Thereafter, the burden shall shift to the Respondent to show why the certificate should be granted, even if the purported ground(s) is (are) established.
(d) Decision.
1. Report of the Tribunal. After the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing tribunal shall make a report through the Executive Director to the Professional Standards Commission for action. Said report shall be a part of the record and shall be served on all parties in the matter. The report shall include findings of fact as to each reason for proposed denial, conclusions of law, and recommendations as to whether the Respondent's certificate should be denied.
2. Exceptions. Within 30 days after service of the report, the party may file with the Commission exceptions to said report, which will become part of the record and will be submitted to the Professional Standards Commission for consideration and final action. Such proceedings conducted by the Professional Standards Commission shall be conducted pursuant to the Professional Standards Commission rules.
3. Grounds for Revocation, Suspension and Denial. The following constitute grounds for revocation, suspension, or denial of a certificate.
(a) Fraud. Obtaining or attempting to obtain a teacher certificate by fraudulent means or through misrepresentation of material facts.
(b) Incapacity. Physical, mental or emotional incapacity or unfitness.
(c) Moral Turpitude. Commission of an act constituting moral turpitude.
(d) Felony or Misdemeanor. Conviction, plea of guilty, or a plea of nolo contendere for violation of a law punishable as a felony or misdemeanor, other than a minor traffic violation.
(e) Incompetency. Incompetency to discharge assigned duties in the area or areas for which the educator is certified.
(f) Violation of Ethics. Violation of Code of Professional Ethics for Educators.
(g) Revocation in Another State. Revocation of a teaching certificate in another state on grounds consistent with those specified in this subparagraph.
(h) Personal Misconduct. Personal conduct which seriously reduces the certificate holder's effectiveness in his/her employment position or which is detrimental to the health, welfare, discipline, or morals of pupils.
(i) Breach of Contract. Breach of contract of employment by abandonment of the work assignment without first being released from the contract of employment by a Local Board; however, the suspension for such abandonment shall not exceed one year for the first offense commencing on the day the order of the Professional Standards Commission is entered into record.
(j) Other Good Cause. Any other good and sufficient cause.
(4) Reapplication After Initial Certificate Denial. In the event an application for a certificate has been denial on grounds which a certificate may be revoked or suspended, any subsequent application for a certificate shall not be filed earlier than two years from the date of the initial denial. On appeal, the Commission may exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis in considering the time to reapply after the initial denial.
(5) Reinstatement After Suspension. Any person whose certificate has been suspended may petition for early reinstatement of a suspended certificate or for early renewal of an expired certificate by submitting competent evidence to the Commission that the reason or reasons for the suspension have ceased to be a factor in the performance or conduct of the educator seeking reinstatement. The Commission shall make a recommendation regarding reinstatement to the Professional Standards Commission.
(6) Reapplication After Revocation. Any person whose certificate has been revoked may petition for the right to apply for a new certificate by submitting competent evidence to the Commission that the reason or reasons for the revocation have ceased to be a factor in the performance or conduct of the educator seeking a new certificate. The Commission shall make a recommendation regarding such application to the Professional Standards Commission. A period of three years shall have elapsed from the date of the certificate revocation before a petition to apply for a new certificate shall be considered by the Commission. If such initial petition to apply for a new certificate is denied, any subsequent petition to apply for a new certificate shall not be filed earlier than two years from the date of the previous denial order. The Commission reserves the discretion to consider the time to apply after the initial three-year waiting period on a case-by-case basis.

Notes

Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 506-3-.02
O.C.G.A. Secs. 20-2-790, et seq.; 20-2-200(a).
Original Rule entitled "Investigations and Recommendations as to Disciplinary Actions" was f. May 25, 1989; eff. May 25, 1989. Amended: F. Apr. 7, 1994; eff. Apr. 27, 1994.

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