2020 Georgia Code
Title 20 - Education
Chapter 2 - Elementary and Secondary Education
Article 17 - Teachers and Other School Personnel
Part 10 - Professional Standards
§ 20-2-984.4. Professional Standards Commission - Preliminary Investigations; Powers of Investigator; Limitations; Notice; Change of Address; Withdrawal of Application
- If the commission agrees to investigate matters reported under Code Section 20-2-984.2 or Code Section 20-2-984.3, an investigator of the commission shall conduct a preliminary investigation of the reported matters to determine if probable cause exists to recommend disciplinary action. Prior to beginning such investigation, the commission shall send written notification to the local board employing the educators of the following:
- The names and addresses of the parties making the complaint that gave rise to the proposed investigation;
- The names of the educators employed by the local board who are proposed to be investigated; and
- An explanation of the complaint made against the educators employed by the local board.
- In conducting an investigation authorized by this Code section, the commission shall:
- Be authorized to conduct plenary hearings;
- Have the power to administer oaths and affirmations;
- Have the power to issue subpoenas in the name of the commission to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and any other things to be used as evidence. Such subpoenas shall be served in any manner now or hereafter provided for service of subpoenas issued by the superior courts. In the event any person fails or refuses to obey a subpoena issued under this paragraph, such failure or refusal shall constitute contempt of the commission. Upon application by the commission to the superior court of the county wherein such person resides or is found, the superior court shall have power, after notice and hearing, to adjudge such person in contempt and to punish such person by a fine not exceeding $300.00 or by imprisonment not exceeding 20 days or by both such fine and imprisonment and to enter such other orders and take such other action as may be necessary to enforce compliance with and obedience to the subpoena. At such hearing, the person subpoenaed shall be entitled to make any defense and to show any valid reason why he or she failed or refused to comply with the subpoena; and
- Have the power to access criminal histories of educators through the Georgia Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center. This access shall include a GCIC terminal. Information provided by GCIC or NCIC shall be used in accordance with Code Section 35-3-35 and with applicable federal and state laws, rules, or regulations.
- The investigation conducted pursuant to this Code section is limited to the matters asserted in the written complaint unless additional written complaints are filed. The commission shall be authorized to investigate any matters raised in any such additional complaints while investigating the original complaint.
- Prior to being contacted by an investigator, but in no event later than the completion of the investigation conducted pursuant to this Code section, the educator shall receive written notification that he or she is the subject of an investigation and shall also receive written notification of the allegations against him or her. In addition, the educator shall be notified that the investigation shall be limited to those allegations unless additional written allegations are filed.
- In no event shall a preliminary investigation take longer than 60 days without written permission from the commission, at which time a written finding of probable cause, or that no probable cause exists, must be made to the commission.
- No applicant who is under investigation by the commission shall be allowed to withdraw his or her application for a certificate, permit, or other certification document without the written consent of the commission. The commission shall retain its authority over those applicants to proceed with the denial of the certificate, permit, or other certification document upon any ground provided by law. The suspension or expiration of any certificate, permit, or certification document, or its surrender without the written consent of the commission, shall not deprive the commission of its authority to do any of the following:
- Institute or continue an investigation or a disciplinary proceeding against the holder of a certificate, permit, or other certification document upon any ground provided by law;
- Enter an order denying, suspending, or revoking the certificate, permit, or other certification document; or
- Issue an admonition to the holder of a certificate, permit, or other certification document.
(d.1)Upon the educator's receipt of written notification that an educator is the subject of such investigation, it shall be the duty of the educator to notify the commission in writing of any change in the educator's home or employment address until the commission issues a final decision in the matter. During this period, the mailing by certified mail of any notice, correspondence, or order regarding an investigation or disciplinary action to the last address specified by the educator after receiving written notice of the investigation or, if the commission has not received a change of address from the educator, the address at which the educator received written notification of an investigation, shall constitute proper notice to the educator. If the commission has been notified in writing that the educator is represented by legal counsel, the commission shall also send a copy of any notice to the educator's legal counsel. Notice by certified mail pursuant to this subsection shall be complete upon mailing.
(Code 1981, §20-2-984.4, enacted by Ga. L. 1998, p. 750, § 7; Ga. L. 2002, p. 397, § 5.)Code Commission notes.
- Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 2002, in subsection (b), "and" was deleted from the end of paragraph (b)(2) and "; and" was substituted for a period at the end of paragraph (b)(3), and "investigation or, if" was substituted for "investigation, or if" in the second sentence of subsection (d.1).
Procedural irregularities in investigation were cured by subsequent procedures.
- Even if the Georgia Professional Standards Commission failed to comply with the proper statutory procedures under O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-984(h) and20-2-984.4(b) in conducting the Commission's investigation of a school superintendent, the superintendent's substantial rights were not prejudiced by the impropriety, O.C.G.A. § 50-13-19(h), which was cured by subsequent compliance with O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-984.3(a)(2), 20-2- 984.5(d), and50-13-13(a)(2)(D). Quigg v. Ga. Prof'l Stds. Comm'n, 344 Ga. App. 142, 809 S.E.2d 267 (2017).