Good Georgia Lawyer Wins Professional Standards Commission (PSC) Case

Posted on September 26, 2021

Good Georgia Education Lawyer obtained a win for educators in a PSC (Georgia Professional Standards Commission case) that was prosecuted by the Attorney General for the State of Georgia before an Administrative Law Judge.

In the ALJ’s decision, which can be read here, the Court completely reversed the Georgia Professional Standards Commission’s decision to revoke the educator’s license certification.

No educator should ever go before the Professional Standards Commission (“PSC”) without complete legal representation. The PSC regulates educators’ certifications which all educators are required to maintain in good standing in order to be licensed to teach in the public school setting in Georgia. Unfortunately, the way the system works is that anyone can file a complaint against an educator, rightly or wrongly. In the event of a wrongful accusation, the educator is left to the mercy of a state agency which can inflict harsh sanctions and penalties that include suspensions and revocation of an educator’s license.

If you are an educator that is facing a charge and you have been notified by a PSC investigator that you must respond to the charges by a certain date, do not go it alone! Do not respond without competent legal counsel who will speak on your behalf and effectively advocate for you. Speaking to a PSC investigator by yourself is like speaking to a police officer if you’ve been arrested for murder. Anything you can say can be used against you. In fact, most of the PSC investigators are all former law enforcement—these include past sheriff deputies, GBI agents, and other former federal and state police.

Once the PSC investigator completes the finding of their investigation, the PSC votes to adopt a sentence sanctioning the educator– or in rare cases, finds no probable cause. During this period it is very important to have an attorney assisting you. Once the PSC renders their recommendation, they provide the educator with a consent order where the educator signs the agreement to accept the proposed sanction (such as a suspension not to teach for two years or a revocation of one’s certificate) or alternatively, gives the educator the option to appeal the punishment decision. If the decision is appealed, it then goes to the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Georgia where the educator then enters a long waiting game.

It is the opinion of Williams Oinonen LLC that this part of the process is an extremely unfair violation of an educator’s constitutional rights because oftentimes, because the Attorney General is so backed up with cases, that the educator may not get a hearing for a very long time and during this time is deprived of their ability to maintain their livelihood  or obtain gainful employment as many school districts will not employ an educator who has a pending ethics investigation. Then, all because the state of Georgia has not provided proper funding of resources to litigate these cases in a timely manner, educators languish for a couple years while waiting for their day in court where they are unable to contribute towards their TRS retirement pension or oftentimes are unable to maintain gainful employment in the state of Georgia. Some good educators end up dropping out of the profession altogether.

Clearly reform is needed in this area to insure that our Georgia educators are not unfairly deprived of their property interest (the teaching certificate they have worked so hard to obtain) in violation of their constitutional rights.  Regardless, if you find yourself in this challenging predicament, contact the law firm of Williams Oinonen LLC.

We have an excellent track record of winning PSC cases for our educator clients and would be privileged to represent you. For more information, contact Williams Oinonen LLC at 404-654-0288.