The Hearing Process explains the procedure for an educator to appeal a sanction. This section answers questions regarding issues associated with the process in its entirety.
An educator may accept the proposed sanction by signing the Consent Order in front of a notary public and return it to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission within 30 days. If an educator does not wish to accept the proposed sanction, he may request an administrative hearing. The hearing request must be in writing and clearly express a desire to contest the GaPSC’s probable cause determination. If the Consent Order is not returned signed and no request for a hearing is submitted within 30 days, the sanction will become final by operation of law.
A hearing gives the educator an opportunity to present witnesses or evidence in support of his or her case or explain any mitigating circumstances.
A copy of the investigative file is forwarded to the State Attorney General’s Office, that represents the GaPSC. Once an Assistant Attorney General is assigned, the educator/educator’s attorney may contact that attorney to request documents or discuss possible settlement.
It is not necessary to have an attorney in order to request a hearing. The decision is solely up to the educator.
The Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH) is an independent State Agency that will appoint an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to conduct the hearing. The purpose of OSAH’s existence is to provide a neutral ground for the hearing process.
OSAH is located at 230 PEACHTREE STREET, SUITE 850, ATLANTA, GA 30303. The ALJ will issue a Notice of Hearing upon all parties that will schedule the date, time and location for the matter to be heard. The Notice of Hearing will also contain other important procedural information. The Notice of hearing will provide details about the educator’s responsibilities.
The hearing will be conducted according to OSAH’s rules and the Administrative Procedures Act. A certified Court Reporter will be in attendance to take down and produce a transcript of the proceedings. Should the educator or the attorney representing the educator wish to purchase a copy of the transcript, it is available through the court reporting service.
The Initial Decision is a recommendation back to the GaPSC based on the credibility of the witnesses and all evidence presented at the hearing. OSAH’s rules state that the ALJ will render an Initial Decision within 30 days of the close of the record. The record is usually deemed closed either upon receipt of the transcript or, if so ordered by the ALJ, upon receipt of Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law being filed by both parties. If, due to the complexities of the issues and/or the length of the record, the ALJ determines that the Initial Decision will not be rendered within thirty (30) days, he/she will issue an order projecting a date of issuance in accordance with OSAH Rule 616-1-2-.27.
After hearing a case, the ALJ has the authority to order any of the possible sanctions. While it is unusual, it is possible that the Initial Decision will be for a more serious sanction than the original probable cause determination by the GaPSC.
Once an Initial Decision has been rendered, the educator has to decide whether to accept or appeal the decision. Should the educator wish to appeal the ALJ’s decision, he/she must file a Petition for Judicial Review in Superior Court within thirty (30) days of the “Filed” stamp date of the Initial Decision pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-13-19. If the educator does not seek Judicial Review, at the conclusion of the thirty (30) days, the Initial Decision will become the Final Decision of the GaPSC by operation of law and a Final Order will be served on all parties.