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State appeals ruling restoring James' teaching certifications

Former Monroe Assistant Principal Joey James, right, and his attorney, Chris West, sit before a Dougherty School Board administrative hearing in January.

Former Monroe Assistant Principal Joey James, right, and his attorney, Chris West, sit before a Dougherty School Board administrative hearing in January.

ATLANTA — Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens' office on Wednesday filed a notice of appeal of Dougherty Superior Court Chief Judge Willie Lockette's decision to overturn a Georgia Professional Standards Commission's ruling revoking the teaching certifications of former Monroe High School Assistant Principal Joey James.

The case will now move to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

In April 2011, James was charged with two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery against a paraprofessional. At that time, he was the principal at Southside Middle School.

He was suspended twice for a total of 25 days with pay as a result of those charges.

James went on trial for the battery charges in June 2012, but Dougherty County State Court Judge John Salter ruled a mistrial after improper testimony from a witness. No retrial has been scheduled.

In December, the PSC revoked all of James' teaching certifications and the Dougherty County School System suspended him without pay. The DCSS terminated James two months later after finding that he violated the terms of his contract by failing to continue to hold his certification and credentials.

During his appeal of the PSC ruling before Lockette, James contended his suspensions by former superintendent Joshua Murfree with pay were not disciplinary suspensions.

Lockette found that had the PSC notified James before his hearing that the suspensions constituted evidence in the case, he potentially could have had Murfree corroborate his own sworn testimony and to establish the fact that the superintendent did not base either suspension on a finding or conclusion that James had in fact violated the Code as alleged, and that neither suspension was imposed as a form of punishment.