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www.gae.org | 21 Victory in Clayton County GAE member and teacher was recommended for termination for failure to report suspected child abuse in violation of OCGA §19-7-5. Testimony at the hearing revealed that one of educator’s students told her that she had a bruise and that if she got in trouble again her father would be upset. The statement was made at approximately 12:00 noon on a Friday during transition time. Due to numerous responsibilities, she lost track of time and didn’t report the incident to a counselor (via email only) until 6:30pm.  Unfortunately, the student had already gone home for the weekend and the counselor didn’t receive the email until the following Monday. After speaking to the educator and the student, the counselor made a report to the Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS). DFACS subsequently conducted an investigation. DFACS questioned the student and the father. DFACS determined there was no abuse occurring in the home. At the hearing the Principal of the school testified that the educator was an excellent employee and that he would support her return to the school in spite of the incident. (Note: The Principal was no longer an employed by the school system but accepted a job in another school district). After hearing the evidence, the Tribunal “only” recommended a ten (10) day suspension to the local board of education. To its credit, the board rejected the Tribunal’s recommendation to suspend the educator and, instead, issued a letter of reprimand. Victory in Valdosta GAE prevailed in federal district court on behalf of special needs teacher ShaDawn Powell. The Court denied the school district’s motion for summary judgment and found there are genuine issues of material fact for a jury to decide if the school district retaliated against Ms. Powell for reporting suspected child neglect. This is a significant example of GAE standing behind its members that comply with mandatory child abuse reporting laws and who advocate on behalf of special needs children.  Ms. Powell began teaching special needs at Mason Elementary in 2009-2010 with all satisfactory evaluations. In October 2011, she reported what she believed to be possible child neglect (private areas unclean and bleeding, insect bites, fleas). In response, the principal directed Ms. Powell to stop making reports of suspected child abuse or neglect to the school counselor and report all cases directly to him. On January 12, 2012, Ms. Powell made another report of child neglect to the school nurse (student with fleas in her hair and emitting strong animal smells; and another child with a protruding abdomen, yellowish-brown coloration of the skin, and watery stools). In February 2012, Ms. Powell received five more needs improvements. Ms. Powell continued to make reports of suspected child neglect over the next month. In March 2012, Ms. Powell was recommended for non-renewal. Although Ms. Powell did not have “tenure” due process rights under Georgia’s Fair Dismissal Act, she contacted GAE legal services for assistance. We’re glad she did. Victory in Clayton County GAE member faced termination of her teaching contract this past summer based upon allegations that kindergarten students had engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct in her classroom. The educator had the support of her colleagues, parents and family, all of whom appeared each and every day of the five-day hearing. The Superintendent’s star witness was a six-year-old student who had admittedly engaged in the inappropriate acts.  At one point during the hearing, the educator’s attorney attempted to cross-examine the child about other instances when she allegedly engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct while under the supervision of other school personnel. The child’s mother got so upset that she cursed, grabbed her child and stormed out of the hearing room.   Voting 2-1 to reject the superintendent’s recommendation for termination, the tribunal concluded that the superintendent failed to show how any act or omission by the educator led to the students’ inappropriate conduct in the classroom. The Board of Education voted to reinstate the educator’s employment but, despite the board’s decision, school officials nonetheless reported the matter to the Professional Standards Commission.   The PSC opened an investigation into the allegations this past summer. After the educator submitted to the PSC the same evidence that she had presented to the Clayton County tribunal, as well as evidence that had been excluded during the hearing, the PSC in November found no probable cause and accordingly dismissed the case. Victory in Atlanta Atlanta Public Schools educator was investigated by the Professional Standards Commission in connection with the 2009 CRCT cheating investigation. Although there was never any evidence that the educator engaged in any cheating or testing improprieties and the educator was returned to work at APS in 2012, the PSC case remained open for more than three years.  On November 13, 2014, the PSC administratively closed the investigation based on advice from the Attorney General’s Office. See the GAE Promise in Action. Real wins for real members. Legal


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