Georgia’s Child Abuse Registry remains a threat to educators

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Atlanta’s Caring Lawyers can help

 Georgia teachers are being placed on Georgia’s Child Abuse Registry (CAR), in many cases simply for doing their job. A state Supreme Court ruling recently upheld the constitutionality of the registry after Dougherty County high school teachers and administrators challenged their unwarranted placement on the CAR. 

Since the registry launched in July 2016, scores of Georgia teachers have gotten entangled in it, and scores more will likely find themselves in the same situation in the months to come.

“As long as the registry exists in its current form, educators need to be diligent about fighting for their rights,” says Bettina Davies, an attorney at Cauthorn Nohr & Owen and a network attorney for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). “In nearly every case, legal representation will be required to protect the educator through the CAR process.”

Atty. Davies has handled numerous CAR cases in the past two years, often with great success for educators. In a recent case, Atty. Davies successfully obtained a ruling for the removal of an elementary school teacher from the registry. Described as an exemplary employee, the teacher was placed on the registry after claims of inappropriate behavior by the teacher toward a special-education student.

The statute governing CAR defines child abuse as:

  • Physical injury or death of a child as a result of action by a parent or caretaker

  • Neglect or exploitation of a child by a parent or caretaker

  • Endangering a child

  • Sexual abuse of a child

  • Sexual exploitation of a child

 In this elementary school teacher’s case, the charge was neglect. After conducting a hearing, the judge ruled that there had been insufficient evidence that the teacher “failed to provide the necessary level of supervision necessary for a child’s physical, mental or emotional health.”

“Every time an accusation is made, an educator’s ability to teach is threatened,” says Atty. Davies. “It’s critical to protect the rights of educators in this process.”  

Related: Georgia’s child abuse registry can have unintended consequences for teachers

The CNO Team