DAWSON COUNTY - The Georgia Professional Standards Commission this week will hear complaints against two Dawson County High School teachers who resigned in March after allegations they exchanged inappropriate communications with students via social media.
Dawson County Schools Superintendent Damon Gibbs confirmed Tuesday that the two incidents were unrelated.
Ansley Patrum and Sara Beth Jones, both English/Language Arts teachers at Dawson County High School, resigned in mid-March following the allegations. They were both in their first year with the school system.
Tanis Miller, legal officer of the GPSC Educator Ethics Division, and John Grant, assistant director and chief investigator at GPSC, confirmed via email April 10 that complaints made against Patrum and Jones will be brought before the commission April 12 to determine if an investigation is warranted.
“The PSC does not discuss cases until [a] decision by PSC becomes a final action,” Grant wrote.
The commission reviews all complaints received and must determine whether an investigation is warranted. It can also determine if there is no probable cause for investigation or remand the complaint back to the school system for an investigation.
All citizens of the state of Georgia may file a complaint against an educator. The complaint must be in writing and signed by the complainant, according to the PSC website.
Potential disciplinary sanctions that could be imposed if the commission decides an investigation is warranted include a warning or reprimand that would not invalidate the educator’s certificate; a suspension of their certificate that would be reinstated after the stated suspension period; or revocation of any certificate, license or permit held by the educator.
Patrum’s resignation, effective March 14, was approved by the board of education at a called meeting March 30. A long term substitute for Jones’ classes was approved at the March 12 board meeting.
Dawson County Schools Chief Human Resources Officer Lisa Perry said in a March 18 email to Dawson County News that due to “privacy rights of the students, the nature of personnel matters and the ongoing investigation by state authorities” they could not provide further information, including the names of the teachers.
“I am not sure why they would report misconduct to you then say they are not able to provide the names of those who committed the misconduct,” Miller wrote in an email after confirming the last names of the teachers in question.
The social media outlet and the nature of the inappropriate communications have not been divulged.
The Dawson County Sheriff's Office received a report Feb. 22 about possible inappropriate conduct between a teacher at DCHS and a student.
According to Sheriff Jeff Johnson, the report was investigated and no charges were filed.