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Lockette upholds James' appeal of PSC ruling

ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty Superior Court Chief Judge Willie Lockette has overturned the Georgia Professional Standards Commission's decision to revoke the teaching certifications of former Monroe High School Assistant Principal Joey James.

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.

Neither James nor his attorney, Chris West, could be reached for comment Friday.

According to an email from Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Colangelo, the state will appeal Lockette's decision to the Court of Appeals