Teacher suspension report from the Professional Standards Commission

Case Number:                                   PCE 11-5-1117

Investigator:                                       Karen Allen-Bowie

Position Held:                                    Teacher

Employment Status:                          Employed

Complaint Origin:                             Local Board

Complaint: The Educator engaged in an inappropriate search of a student without a witness and without making an administrator aware of the situation that required the physical search of the student.

Findings of Fact: The Paraprofessional stated that the Educator told her that she was going to check a student after seeing the student walk in a funny manner and then the Educator took the student to the bathroom. Several witness' statements corroborate that the Educator admitted to checking the student by pulling the students' shorts down and touching her inner thighs, the back of the thighs, and lower bottom area. The Educator's attorney's written statement indicated that the Educator, "…conducted no search within the meaning of a search under the __ __ school system policy…" and that the Educator was not aware of a policy that required a witness to be present.

Standard, Rules or Laws in Complaint:

PSC Rule 505-6-.01 (3) (j) - The educator failed to demonstrate conduct that follows generally recognized professional standards and preserves the dignity and integrity of the teaching profession by demonstrating 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. 

Investigative Findings:

  • The System filed a complaint that alleged the Educator conducted a physical and visual search of a mildly autistic kindergarten student's genital area without a witness and without making an administrator aware of the situation that required the physical search of the student.
  • The school system's investigative report stated, "__ (Educator) violated professional practices by looking into a student's underwear in the bathroom, alone with just the student.  Her concerns for the student (__) should have been supported by reporting any medical concerns to the school nurse (__) or if it was concerning child neglect or abuse to the administration."
  • The Educator's Attorney submitted a written statement on behalf of the Educator. The statement reads in part; "The __ __ school system has a specific search policy and it is well understood the term "search" connotes looking for contraband, weapons, or others things that can be hazardous." The policy, "…authorizes reasonable searches of students in order to provide a safe and secure environment. There is authority to search students, inspect school lockers, or articles carried upon their persons. The searches are supposed to be based on reasonable suspicion of the presence of deleterious items."
  • The Investigator spoke with the Paraprofessional, whom stated that the student began to fidget around in her seat more than she usually does. The student was allowed to go the bathroom and was observed to be walking in a funny manner. Upon the student's return, the Educator stated she was going to check her and took the student to the faculty bathroom. The Educator returned to the classroom and got some gloves and went back to the bathroom where the student was. After returning from the bathroom with the student, the Educator stated that she was taking her to the nurse because when she was checking the student, she observed red marks and the student complained of pain in the genital area.
  • Several witnesses' written statements corroborate that the Educator admitted that she put on some gloves and took the student to the bathroom, pulled the students shorts down and touched her inner thighs and back of the thighs and lower bottom area.
  • The Attorney's written statement states that, "__ (Educator) did not have a witness present nor was there a physical search as previously discussed. There also is not a policy that specifically covers this situation of the __ __ School System making __ (Educator) aware that her responding to a child in this circumstance requires a witness present."
  • The school systems policy on Reporting Suspected Student Abuse states, "When a staff member receives a report from a student concerning alleged abuse, either by another staff/faculty member or someone outside the school, a report must immediately be made to the principal or another administrator."
  • The O.C.G.A 19-7-5 states that "Child abuse is defined as physical injury or death inflicted upon a child, neglect or exploitation of a child, sexual abuse of a child, or sexual exploitation of a child. All Teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, social workers, or school psychologists are mandated reporters under the statute."
  • The Educator received a written warning and was suspended for 15 days without pay and reassigned outside of the classroom.
  • The Attorney's letter states that after the Educator retained counsel, the execution of the system's agreement instituting a suspension without pay and reassignment was rescinded and that the Educator voluntarily accepted a reassignment to another classroom's teaching position.

Previous PSC Action(s): 01-1-1059 Criminal Acts/Simple Battery - Closed/Clear

Evidence in the Case File supporting the Findings of Fact:

  1. Witness & Educator statements
  2. Investigative reports
  3. OCGA 19-7-5

Case Number:                       11-5-1117

Educator:                               Mrs. Deborah Flood

Certificate ID #:                    197624

Previous PSC Action(s):       01-1-1059 Criminal Acts/Simple Battery - Closed/Clear

Employer:                              Dougherty County

Complainant:                         Dr. Caroline Hand, Interim HR Director,

200 Pine Avenue,

Albany, GA. 31702

(229) 483-6300 ext 5213

Attorney for the Educator:  Howard J. Stiller, P.C.

2410 Westgate Dr. suite 100,

Albany, GA. 31707

(229) 435-8444