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BEFORE THE OFFICE OF STATE ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS

STATE OF GEORGIA

SIDNEY CAMP, JR,


Petitioner, Docket No.: 2121739
2121739-OSAH-PSC-SAN-67-Barnes
v.
Agency Reference No.: 18-11-623, 19-11-
PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS 757
COMMISSION,
Respondent.

FINAL DECISION 08-26-2021

I. Introduction

Petitioner Dr. Sidney Camp Jr. (“Petitioner”) appeals the decision of the Professional

Standards Commission (“Commission”) to revoke his teaching certificate. The hearing in this

matter was conducted on July 19, 20, and 29, 2021. Julie Oinonen, Esq. represented Petitioner at

the hearing. The Commission was represented by Wylencia Hood Monroe, Senior Assistant

Attorney General.

Witnesses at the hearing were as follows: Dr. Derrick Williams, a former director of human

resources for the high schools of Gwinnett County School District (“GCSD”); Thomas O’Neal, a

former educator with GCSD; Arti Sharma, a former educator with GCSD; Susan Blanchard, a

former director of human resources for the support staff of GCSD; William Van Hoose, an ethics

investigator for the Commission; Dr. Paul Shaw, the director of the educators ethics division for

the Commission; Joyce C. Spraggs, a former executive director of internal review for GCSD and

a former director of human resources for the elementary schools of GCSD; Dr. Monica L. Batiste,

the associate superintendent for human resources of GCSD; Dr. Kimberly A. McDermon, the

current chief of human resources of Rockdale County School District and a former director of

human resources for the elementary schools of GCSD; Dr. Francis E. Davis, a former associate

superintendent for human resources of GCSD; Mary M. Jessie, a former director of human

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resources for the elementary schools of GCSD and Atlanta Public Schools; J. Alvin Wilbanks, the

superintendent of GCSD; 1 and Petitioner.

After careful consideration of the evidence and the arguments of the parties, and for the

reasons stated below, the Commission’s decision is REVERSED. 2

II. Findings of Fact

Background

1.

Petitioner holds a teaching certificate in the State of Georgia and held such certificate at all

times relevant to the matters asserted herein. (Exhibit P-38.)

2.

During the time relevant to the matters asserted herein, Petitioner was the executive

director of human resources staffing for GCSD, a school district with 23,000 teachers, 175,000

students, and 1,000 resignations per year. He held this position and various other positions from

March 2008 to March 2018, when he retired. Petitioner came out of retirement to work part-time

with GCSD in June 2019 and plans to retire by June 2022 at the latest. Petitioner is known in the

education community for his trustworthiness, integrity, passion, and competence in technological

and human resources matters. The executive director position does not require a teaching

certificate; nevertheless, Petitioner obtained a teaching certificate, and it is valuable to him.

(Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of J. Alvin Wilbanks; Testimony of Mary M. Jessie;

Testimony of Dr. Francis E. Davis.)

1
Wilbanks was the superintendent of GCSD at the time of the hearing. However, he retired just a few days after the
conclusion of the hearing and prior to the issuing of this Final Decision.
2
The Court declines to address all of the parties’ arguments. This Final Decision only includes those arguments the
Court finds most relevant to the allegations in the Matters Asserted.

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3.

GCSD human resources is governed by about 659 practices and policies, but ethics

violation reports are typically conducted in three stages: 1) allegation, 2) investigation, and 3)

reporting. Schools are assigned to a human resources director, who is the point person for

principals to report Code of Ethics for Educators violations. Upon receipt of an alleged violation,

human resources directors add allegations to a database with a short one sentence description, such

as “parapro allegedly hit a student.” An email is sent to the executive director of human resources

once a new allegation has been entered in the database; however, the extent of information included

in this email was not presented at the hearing (i.e., a notification that a new allegation has been

made versus a full description of the allegation). Next, the human resources director begins the

investigation, including interviewing witnesses, pulling video surveillance, reviewing polices,

requesting forensic analyses of computers, etc. Once a thorough investigation has been completed,

the human resources director presents the case summary report of the findings and any

accompanying evidence to the executive director. If the employee committed an ethics violation,

then it is the executive director’s responsibility to report the violation to the Commission.

(Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of Susan Blanchard; Testimony of Dr. Kimberly A.

McDermon; Dr. Monica L. Batiste; Testimony of Joyce C. Spraggs; Dr. Francis E. Davis;

Testimony of William Van Hoose.)

4.

At the relevant time, Dr. Davis determined that Petitioner should bear the responsibility for

submitting reports to the Commission, because he was trustworthy, and this streamlined the

reporting process. Importantly, if the report did not include adequate evidence to the Commission,

the Commission would ask the school district to conduct further investigation into the allegations.

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This indicates that an allegation alone of an ethics violation is insufficient for a required report;

there must be some substantiation. See Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 505-6-.01(3)(i). Furthermore,

numerous witnesses testified that if a human resources director failed to thoroughly investigate an

allegation and did not present the findings to the executive director, then the executive director

would have no personal knowledge regarding whether an actual ethics violation occurred.

(Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of Susan Blanchard; Testimony of Dr. Kimberly A.

McDermon; Testimony of Dr. Francis E. Davis.)

5.

Petitioner testified that he has sought to improve the GCSD reporting process throughout

the years, even prior to the events leading to this proceeding. For example, Petitioner now receives

weekly reports of pending cases for Dr. Batiste and him to review. Furthermore, Petitioner

receives an alert if a case has not been updated in the past ten days. Prior to these changes, it was

difficult to audit the high number of allegations, and cases could fall through the cracks if human

resources directors neglected to conduct thorough investigations. (Testimony of Petitioner;

Testimony of William Van Hoose; Testimony of Dr. Paul Shaw.)

Preston Paris

6.

Petitioner did not report educator Preston Paris with regard to the allegations found in PSC

18-10-469, that resulted in the revocation of educator Paris’s certificate on April 30, 2019. Dr.

Williams was the human resources director assigned to this case. (Exhibit R-3; Testimony of

Petitioner; Testimony of William Van Hoose.)

7.

Paris was arrested for allegedly molesting a minor student while employed as an educator

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with Fulton County School District. Prior to his employment with Fulton County, Paris was an

educator with GCSD. He resigned from GCSD due to his alleged solicitation of a minor student.

(Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of William Van Hoose.)

8.

When the Paris arrest went public, Dr. Williams told Petitioner that no interview was

conducted with Paris and that Paris refused to talk prior to resigning; however, Spraggs and Dr.

Williams interviewed Paris. Spraggs was involved in the investigation due to possible Title IX

claims, but ultimately it was Dr. Williams’ responsibility to investigate the allegations against

Paris. Spraggs wrote notes during the interview, but she testified that she gave her notes to Dr.

Williams, not Petitioner. (Testimony of Joyce C. Spraggs.)

9.

Petitioner did not contest his failure to report Paris to the Commission, but he denied having

any personal knowledge of the allegations at the time of the investigation. Petitioner testified that

Dr. Williams failed to investigate Paris’s ethics violation and/or did not present his evidence to

Petitioner. The only evidence the Commission presented to support Petitioner’s personal

knowledge of this ethics violation was the automatic notification sent to Petitioner when the

allegation was entered into the database, one of many such notifications each year, and the

testimony of Dr. Williams, who completely lacked credibility. (Testimony of Petitioner;

Testimony of William Van Hoose; Testimony of Dr. Paul Shaw.)

Dr. Derrick Williams

10.

Due to the Paris scandal, the Commission began investigating Dr. Williams, Petitioner, and

GCSD’s reporting practices. Subpoenas were issued by the Commission to identify any cases that

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were not timely reported; the Sharma, Covington, Jameson, Martin, and O’Neal cases were

identified as a result. Also, the extent of Dr. Williams’s negligence became known to GCSD at

this time. He apologized for his “singular error” of failing to report the Paris matter to Petitioner.

Wilbanks recommended Dr. Williams for termination; however, Dr. Williams submitted a letter

of resignation for “personal reasons” before he could be terminated. When his office was cleared

out, numerous files were found with unfinished investigative reports. (Testimony of Petitioner;

Testimony of J. Alvin Wilbanks; Testimony of Dr. Derrick Williams; Testimony of Francis E.

Davis; Testimony of William Van Hoose; Testimony of Dr. Paul Shaw.)

11.

Dr. Williams testified at the hearing that he had “COVID brain” and thus could not

remember many of the details of his employment and resignation from GCSD. He strongly insisted

that he resigned for “personal reasons.” Overall, Dr. Williams’s testimony was unbelievable,

unforthcoming, and untrustworthy. (Testimony of Dr. Derrick Williams.)

Arti Sharma

12.

Petitioner did not report educator Arti Sharma with regard to the allegations found in PSC

19-3-1158, that resulted in a suspension of one year and 123 days of Sharma’s certificate on

January 9, 2020. Dr. Williams was the human resources director assigned to this case. (Exhibit

R-4; Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of William Van Hoose.)

13.

Sharma testified that she attempted to help a student who was being forced into an arranged

marriage. Sharma drove the student to the airport where she believed the student’s grandmother

was there to help; this turned out not to be the case. As a result, she felt “coerced” into resigning,

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and Sharma was instructed by Dr. Williams to resign in lieu of a Commission investigation. At

no point did Sharma speak to Petitioner regarding her resignation. (Exhibit P-61; Testimony of

Arti Sharma.)

14.

Petitioner did not contest his failure to report Sharma to the Commission, but he denied

having any personal knowledge of the allegations at the time of the investigation. Petitioner

testified that Dr. Williams failed to investigate Sharma’s ethics violation and/or did not present his

evidence to Petitioner. The only evidence the Commission presented to support Petitioner’s

personal knowledge of this ethics violation was the automatic notification sent to Petitioner when

the allegation was entered into the database, one of many such notifications each year, and the

testimony of Dr. Williams, who completely lacked credibility. (Testimony of Petitioner;

Testimony of William Van Hoose; Testimony of Dr. Paul Shaw.)

David Covington

15.

Petitioner did not report educator David Covington with regard to the allegations found in

PSC 19-3-1161, that resulted in a reprimand of Covington’s certificate on June 11, 2020. (Exhibit

R-5.)

16.

Covington was an assistant principal who had an alleged affair with employee. The alleged

relationship was short-term and involved a trip to New Orleans. He was not the employee’s direct

supervisor, but he had some supervisory duties over the educator. Covington later resigned due to

this incident. (Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of William Van Hoose.)

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17.

Petitioner did not contest his failure to report Covington to the Commission, but he denied

that a consensual affair between an assistant principal and an employee when the assistant principal

only had indirect supervisory duties over the employee is necessarily an ethics violation. Van

Hoose and Dr. Shaw both testified that just because an individual is in the chain of command does

not mean that an affair with an employee is automatically a standard violation but rather is a “shade

of gray” morality question that should be reported to the Commission. (Testimony of Petitioner;

Testimony of William Van Hoose; Testimony of Dr. Paul Shaw.)

Stephen Jameson

18.

Petitioner did not report educator Stephen Jameson with regard to the allegations found in

PSC 19-3-1164, that resulted in a 75-day suspension of Jameson’s certificate on June 11, 2020.

Dr. Williams was the human resources director assigned to this case, but Petitioner completed the

investigation because Dr. Williams was not in the office that day. (Exhibit R-6; Testimony of

Petitioner.)

19.

Jameson arrived at school on October 24, 2017 allegedly smelling of alcohol. He

subsequently failed a breathalyzer test. (Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of William Van

Hoose.)

20.

Petitioner admitted personal knowledge of the allegation against Jameson. Petitioner

testified that he submitted a letter to the Commission on November 1, 2017 and separately mailed

the accompanying documents. The Commission never received the letter or documents from

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Petitioner. According to Dr. Shaw, it is the typical course of business for the Commission to send

a receipt of acknowledgement once a report is received. Furthermore, it was practice of Dr. Davis,

who also reported cases to the Commission for GCSD, to follow up when she did not receive the

Commission’s acknowledgment of receipt. Because Petitioner regularly submitted reports to the

Commission, he might have been on notice that the Jameson report was not received when the

Commission did not send him an acknowledgement of receipt. Petitioner also testified at the

hearing that the Commission sometimes misplaces or does not receive the reports, so he might

have been on notice to follow up if he did not hear from the Commission in a reasonable amount

of time. (Testimony of Petitioner Testimony of William Van Hoose; Testimony of Dr. Paul Shaw.)

Kevin Martin

21.

Petitioner did not report educator Kevin Martin with regard to the allegations, found in the

PSC 19-3-1233, that resulted in a two-year suspension of Martin’s certificate on September 10,

2020. Dr. Williams was the human resources director assigned to this case. (Exhibit R-7;

Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of William Van Hoose.)

22.

Martin allegedly filmed himself masturbating in a classroom. The video was sent to

Martin’s principal and either the superintendent or an assistant superintendent. Notably, the video

was not sent to Petitioner. (Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of William Van Hoose.)

23.

Petitioner did not contest his failure to report Martin to the Commission, but he denied

having any personal knowledge of the allegations at the time of the investigation. Petitioner

testified that Dr. Williams failed to investigate Martin’s violation and/or did not present his

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evidence to Petitioner. The only evidence the Commission presented to support Petitioner’s

personal knowledge of this ethics violation was the automatic notification sent to Petitioner when

the allegation was entered into the database, one of many such notifications each year, and the

testimony of Dr. Williams, who completely lacked credibility. (Testimony of Petitioner Testimony

of William Van Hoose; Testimony of Dr. Paul Shaw.)

Thomas O’Neal

24.

Petitioner did not report educator Thomas O’Neal with regard to the allegations found in

PSC 19-3-1237, that resulted in a one-year suspension of O’Neal’s certificate on August 26, 2019.

Petitioner did not contest his failure to report O’Neal to the Commission. (Exhibit R-8; Testimony

of Petitioner; Testimony of William Van Hoose.)

25.

O’Neal allegedly posted an advertisement on Craigslist seeking a romantic partner. The

advertisement included photographs of male genitalia. When confronted, O’Neal admitted that he

previously placed advertisements and photographs on Craigslist, but this advertisement and the

photographs of the male genitalia were not his. An anatomical search was not conducted.

(Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of Dr. Paul Shaw; Testimony of Thomas O’Neal.)

26.

Petitioner testified that he called Dr. Shaw for guidance about whether to report O’Neal to

the Commission. Dr. Shaw remembered a call from Petitioner about reporting cases involving

social media but could not remember if specifics about O’Neal were mentioned. Dr. Shaw told

Petitioner then and at the hearing that the Commission is “not interested in being the social media

police – only [] egregious” cases should be reported. As such, Petitioner believed Dr. Shaw’s

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guidance released him from a duty to report in this instance. (Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony

of Dr. Paul Shaw.)

Resignation in Lieu of a Report to the Commission

27.

The Commission alleged that Petitioner advised, encouraged, or directed a public school

employee that, if the educator resigned from employment, a report would not be made to the

Commission. Petitioner vehemently denied this allegation. Furthermore, the following former

directors of human resources who worked for Petitioner confirmed that he never directed them to

inform educators to resign in lieu of a report to the Commission: Blanchard, Dr. McDermon,

Batiste, Spraggs, and even Dr. Williams. The Commission believed it was a regular practice of

Petitioner to advise human resource directors to threaten the educators but provided scant evidence

to prove Petitioner gave this order. Sharma testified that Dr. Williams made this threat to her and

had no knowledge regarding whether Petitioner directed him to say so. The only evidence

provided by the Commission regarding this threat in the case of Sharma was hearsay testimony by

Dr. Williams during the Commission’s investigation that he could not remember at the hearing.

Furthermore, O’Neal testified that he was told to resign in lieu of an investigation but was unable

to confirm or deny that Petitioner was the individual who made this statement to him. (Exhibit P-

38; Testimony of Petitioner; Testimony of William Van Hoose; Testimony of Susan Blanchard;

Testimony of Dr. Kimberly A. McDermon; Testimony of Dr. Monica L. Batiste; Testimony of

Joyce C. Spraggs; Testimony of Dr. Derrick Williams; Testimony of Thomas O’Neal.)

PSC Investigation into Petitioner

28.

The Commission alleges that between the dates of January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2018,

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Petitioner failed to report breaches of the Code of Ethics for Educators within 90 days of becoming

aware of the alleged breach. (Exhibit P-38; Testimony of William Van Hoose; Testimony of Dr.

Paul Shaw.)

29.

Based on the facts and circumstances set forth above, the Commission found probable

cause that Petitioner violated the laws, rules, and regulations of the Commission. In particular, the

Commission found that Petitioner violated Rule 505-6-.01(3)(i) [Required Reports], Rule 505-6-

.01(3)(j) [Professional Conduct], and Rule 505-6-.01(5)(a)(7) [Other Good and Sufficient Cause]

and determined that Petitioner’s educator certificate should be revoked. Petitioner denied violating

the Commission’s rules and regulations and contested the revocation. (Exhibit P-38; Testimony

of Petitioner; Testimony of Dr. Paul Shaw.)

III. Conclusions of Law

1.

Because this case concerns the proposed sanction of Petitioner’s educator certificate, the

Commission bears the burden of proof. Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 616-1-2-.07(1). The standard of

proof is a preponderance of the evidence. Id. at 616-1-2-.21(4).

2.

The Commission is responsible for adopting standards of performance and a code of ethics

for educators. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-984.1(a). Pursuant to this responsibility, the Commission has

promulgated the Code of Ethics for Educators, which “defines the professional behavior of

educators in Georgia and serves as a guide to ethical conduct.” Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 505-6-

.01(1). The Code of Ethics for Educators also “defines unethical conduct justifying disciplinary

sanction.” Id. The Commission is authorized to sanction an educator certificate where the

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educator has engaged in unethical conduct as outlined in the Code of Ethics for Educators.

O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-984(f), -984.5; Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 505-6-.01(5)(a)1.

3.

In this case, the Commission charges that Petitioner has violated the Rules of the

Professional Standards Commission and the Code of Ethics for Educators, specifically Ga. Comp.

R. & Regs. 505-6-.01(3)(i), Standard 9: Required Reports, and Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 505-6-

.01(3)(j), Standard 10: Professional Conduct. 3 The Commission also recommends that

Petitioner’s educator certificate be sanctioned pursuant to Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 505-6-

.01(5)(a)(7) (providing for sanction for “any other good and sufficient cause that renders an

educator unfit for employment as an educator”).

4.

The Court concludes that Petitioner did not violate Standard Nine of the Code of Ethics for

Educators. Standard Nine requires:

[a]n educator shall file reports of a breach of one or more of the standards in the
Code of Ethics for Educators, child abuse (O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5), or any other
required report. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to:

1. Failure to report all requested information on documents required by the


Commission when applying for or renewing any certificate with the
Commission;

2. Failure to make a required report of a violation of one or more


standards of the Code of Ethics for educators of which they have
personal knowledge as soon as possible but no later than ninety (90)
days from the date the educator became aware of an alleged breach
unless the law or local procedures require reporting sooner; and

3. Failure to make a required report of any violation of state or federal law


soon as possible but no later than ninety (90) days from the date the
educator became aware of an alleged breach unless the law or local

3
The Court uses the 2015 version of the Commission’s Code of Ethics for Educators. Both the 2015 and 2018 versions
of the Code of Ethics for Educators are applicable to this matter. The standards on required reports and professional
conduct are verbatim with the only difference being the standard numbering.

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procedures require reporting sooner. These reports include but are not
limited to: murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault,
aggravated battery, kidnapping, any sexual offense, any sexual
exploitation of a minor, any offense involving a controlled substance
and any abuse of a child if an educator has reasonable cause to believe
that a child has been abused.

Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 505-6-.01(3)(i) (emphasis added).

5.

The Commission presented insufficient evidence to substantiate its allegations regarding

Petitioner’s reporting of Jameson. A preponderance of the evidence shows that Petitioner in fact

reported an ethics violation to the Commission within the prescribed time limit. Although

Petitioner was on notice that the Commission sometimes misses reports and he could have

followed up with the Commission, the Court finds that insufficient to constitute a violation of

Standard Nine.

6.

As for Paris, Sharma, and Martin, Petitioner credibly denied having personal knowledge

that these educators committed ethics violations. The Commission’s only evidence was the fact

that Petitioner received the automatic notifications alerting him that a new allegation was added to

the GCSD database. No evidence was introduced that Petitioner actually viewed these emails, had

conversations with human resources directors about these matters, or reviewed these cases in the

GCSD database. Furthermore, an allegation alone is insufficient to warrant a report to the

Commission. Under Standard Nine, educators engage in unethical conduct if they fail to submit

“a required report of a violation.” The Commission’s counsel at the hearing argued that alleged

violations of ethics violations should be reported. This is contrary to the plain text of the

Commission’s rules as well as its practices. Testimony at the hearing established that if a report

has not been fully investigated, it is common for the Commission to send the matter back to the

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school district for further investigation. Thus, Petitioner did not violate Standard Nine for failing

to report Paris, Sharma, or Martin to the Commission, because Petitioner could not have reported

ethics violations that were not first fully investigated by his human resources directors.

7.

As for Covington and O’Neal, counsel for the Commission argued that cases involving

“shades of gray” morality questions should be reported. While this may be best practice, the

standard requires an actual violation to have occurred. Insufficient evidence was presented at the

hearing that these cases involved standard violations. Furthermore, Petitioner credibly testified

that he called Dr. Shaw for advice about whether to report O’Neal and was ultimately told it was

not necessary. Dr. Shaw could not remember the specifics of this call but did not adequately

contradict Petitioner’s testimony. As such, Petitioner did not violate Standard Nine for failing to

report Covington or O’Neal to the Commission.

8.

The Court concludes that Petitioner did not violate Standard Ten of the Code of Ethics for

Educators. Standard Ten requires:

[a]n educator shall demonstrate conduct that follows generally recognized


professional standards and preserves the dignity and integrity of the education
profession. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to any conduct that
impairs and/or diminishes the certificate holder’s ability to function professionally
in his or her employment position, or behavior or conduct that is detrimental to the
health, welfare, discipline, or morals of students.

Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 505-6-.01(3)(j). As discussed above, the Court finds that Standard Nine

was not violated for Paris, Sharma, Covington, Jameson, Martin, or O’Neal. For the same reasons,

the Court finds insufficient evidence that Petitioner’s conduct was unprofessional. Further, the

majority of the evidence presented at the hearing indicates that Petitioner has been widely

considered to be the consummate professional, including at the times relevant to the underlying

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allegations. Therefore, the Commission failed to meet its burden of proof that Petitioner violated

Standard Ten.

9.

Finally, the Commission cited the provision at Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 505-6-.01(5)(a)(7)

and asserted that Petitioner’s conduct rendered him unfit for employment as an educator. The

Merriam Webster online dictionary defines the term “unfit” as “not suited for a purpose:

unsuitable” or “not qualified: incapable, incompetent.” Unfit, MERRIAM WEBSTER ONLINE

DICTIONARY, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unfit (last visited April 15, 2021). In

the context of the Commission’s rule, the definition “not qualified, incapable, or incompetent”

would be the most applicable. In other words, unfit implies something more than an inadvertent

error or omission. There is no evidence that Petitioner is unfit for employment as an educator.

Accordingly, the Commission has failed to prove that Petitioner’s conduct rendered him unfit for

employment as an educator. Id. at 505-6-.01(5)(a)(7).

10.

A preponderance of evidence shows that Petitioner’s conduct did not constitute a violation

of the Code of Ethics for Educators. Moreover, credible evidence was presented that, over the

years, Petitioner has attempted to reform the policies and procedures at GCSD to prevent more

reports from falling through the cracks. Thus, the Court concludes that Respondent’s proposed

revocation is inappropriate.

IV. Decision

In accordance with the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, the

Commission’s decision to sanction Petitioner’s teaching certificate is REVERSED.

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SO ORDERED, this 26th day of August, 2021.

Shakara M. Barnes
Administrative Law Judge

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