Frequently Asked Questions About the Professional Standards Commission’s Ethics Investigations

What is the Professional Standards Commission?

The Professional Standards Commission is an 18-member Commission which issues and enforces the rules surrounding educator’s certificates in Georgia.  Most of the members of the Commission are public school teachers.  All are appointed to the Commission by the Governor. 

The Commission meets the second Thursday of every month.  Therefore, you will only receive notices from the Commission about your case immediately following that second Thursday.  If you do not receive a notice from the Commission by about the Monday following the second Thursday, they probably did not review your case and you need to wait until the next month.

What is the Commission’s Code of Ethics?

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission's Code of Ethics are the rules by which educators are expected to conduct themselves in Georgia.  Violation of the Code of Ethics can lead to a sanction of a certificate. 

What are the types of sanctions the Commission can impose?

The Commission can issue a warning, a reprimand, a suspension of up to three years, and for the most serious situations, can revoke an educator’s certificate.

Revocation lasts for three years, and when the three years are over, the educator must reapply for a certificate.  The Commission has discretion as to whether to grant a new certificate.  Suspension can be any number of contract days up to three years.  Once the suspension ends, the certificate is automatically reinstated.  Suspensions must occur on consecutive contract days, so an educator cannot serve a suspension during the summer, over fall, winter, or spring break, on weekends, or intermittently throughout the year.  An educator cannot be paid by a public school while the certificate is suspended or revoked.

Reprimands and warnings do not result in any loss of income from public school employment.

If I accept a sanction on my certificate, does it stay there forever? Will people find out about it?

If the Commission dismisses an ethics case, the case is “expunged” and there is no public record.

If the ethics case ends up in a sanction to an educator’s certificate, then the case becomes a public record.  This means that anyone can make a written request to the Commission to see the file.  This also means that the type of sanction, but not the reasons underlying the sanction, will appear on the educator’s public record with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. There is no way to expunge this record.

The Commission thinks I violated the Code of Ethics and wants to sanction my certificate. I deny the allegations against me. I want a hearing. What am I getting myself into?

If you receive a letter from the Commission “finding probable cause” to “recommend” a warning, reprimand, suspension, or revocation, and you want to fight the case, the first thing you must do is follow the directions in the letter and request a hearing.  It is highly recommended that you obtain confirmation that your request for a hearing was received.

Once you request a hearing, the case gets transferred from the Commission to the Attorney General’s Office.  This generally takes between six weeks and two months.  You will receive a letter from the Commission with the expected date of the transfer of the case.

Once the case is in the Attorney General’s Office you can try to negotiate a lower sanction than what the Commission has recommended, and you can even request a dismissal.  Many cases end up settling once they arrive at the Attorney General’s Office.  If you agree to a settlement, then you sign a consent order which then goes back to the Commission for final approval.  The Commission may or may not accept the consent order.  If the Commission does not accept the consent order, then you can either negotiate a different settlement or go to a hearing.

If you cannot negotiate a satisfactory settlement, or you do not want to settle the case, then your case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge at the Office of State Administrative Hearings.  Please see the Administrative Law page for more details on that process.

What can I expect if I hire Ann?

First, you can expect that Ann will listen to your story, and she will fight for the best possible outcome. 

Assuming that you hire Ann when you first receive a letter from the Commission announcing its investigation, Ann will draft a statement on your behalf.  This means that you do not have to speak to the investigator and that you avoid the risk of having something you say used against you.  Once you are comfortable with the statement that Ann has drafted, Ann will then send it to the investigator under her signature.  Ann will then handle all subsequent questions from the investigator and you will not have to speak directly to the investigator.

If the Commission recommends a suspension and you wish to fight it, Ann will request the hearing on your behalf. You and Ann will then discuss potential strategies.  If you want to settle the case, you and Ann will discuss the terms of the settlement, from the type and length of the sanction to the language in the consent order describing the allegation.  If you want to have a hearing, you and Ann will discuss whether any additional evidence or witnesses would be helpful to your case.

Ann charges a flat fee for representation in these cases.  That means you can contact Ann as much as you need without incurring any additional fees.

If you have questions that weren’t answered here, please contact Ann to schedule a consultation to get the answers you need.