GAE Legal Services… Standing with
GAE members when they stand for justice
DO YOU KNOW
Did you know that by June 30, 2015, every
school district in Georgia was required to
decide whether to opt to remain a traditional
school system, or become a charter school
system, or a Strategic Waiver School System
(SWSS)? Which one are you? There are only
two (2) school districts in Georgia that remain
a traditional (“status quo”) school system. That
means the vast majority of school systems
decided to waive education laws, rules, and
regulations that affect you and your students.
What rights have been waived by your local
board of education? If you’re not sure, you will
find below several resources to answer these
Here is the link to the SWSS agreements:
For the most recent list of waivers for your
school district, you must request the latest
SWSS agreement between your local board of
education and the State Board of Education.
You can request it from the central office or
it might be located on the school district’s
website. Either way, it’s a good idea to doublecheck.
Did you know that SWSS are required to waive
at least one of the Big Four?
• Class size
• Certification requirements
• State salary schedule
• Expenditure controls
12 | KNOW • Volume 15 Issue 3
• Increasing classroom sizes
• Eliminating Teacher
• Removing educators from
state salary schedule
• Removing fair dismissal for
Your GAE UniServ Director (UD) is trained to
provide you with the assistance you need. Your
UD can put you in contact with our attorneys
— specialists in educator defense. Find
contact info for your UD at www.gae.org
The information provided is intended only as a general guide to
employment rights of Georgia educators and is neither complete
nor intended to provide legal advice on a particular problem.
A quick review of SWSS agreements indicates
many school districts waived the Big Four plus
many other education laws and regulations.
For example, a surprising number of districts
decided to waive the state’s “duty-free lunch”
statute. The law guarantees teachers in
grades k-5 a lunch period of not less than
30 consecutive minutes free from assigned
responsibilities. The statute was enacted
to meet a necessity for elementary school
teachers – to provide a much-needed break
from the classroom to better serve the children.
Although some critics called it an unfunded
state mandate for the hiring of lunchroom
monitors, local school districts were still
required to provide a duty-free lunch; until now.
If your school board voted to waive compliance
from the duty-free lunch statute, you should
check your local school board policy manual
to see if the district adopted a policy in place
of the statutory requirements. If they have not
adopted such a policy, you should become
active in your local association and lobby your
school board members.
By contrast, charter school systems receive a
general waiver exempting them from most state
statutory and regulatory schemes that apply
to non-charter public schools in exchange for
increasing student achievement.
Here is the link to the charter system
Note: you should also check your local board
of education policy manual to determine if your
locally elected school board members have
enacted a policy to replace state laws they have
waived including the duty-free lunch statute or
due process protections previously afforded
under the Fair Dismissal Act. Your local board of
education policy manual should be located on
your school district’s website.
As you may know, the Georgia Court of Appeals
has ruled that “tenured” teachers employed
by charter school systems are not entitled to
any of the procedural rights and administrative
remedies afforded to tenured, non-charter
public school employees pursuant to the Fair
Dismissal Act. Day v. Floyd County 333 Ga.
App. 144 (2015). Importantly, the Court did
not rule on whether the general waiver of due
process rights earned by tenured educators
is permissible under the Georgia constitution.
That is why NEA and GAE lawyers have filed
a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of
Atlanta City Schools “turn around” plan – the
plan privatized the entire staff at struggling
schools, including educators that earned due
process protections. We have filed a similar
lawsuit on constitutional grounds against
Floyd County Schools. Both cases are pending
Strategic Waivers is #4 on GAE’s
2018 Call to Action. See our
full agenda on page 11!