ALBANY, Ga. — The CRCT saga of Monroe High Principal Valerie Thomas took a different twist late Thursday when the Georgia Professional Standards Commission reversed an earlier ruling that had ordered her suspension for 90 days.
In a Thursday email to Dougherty County School System interim Superintendent Butch Mosely, PSC paralegal Nancy Teele wrote, “Within the last week you should have received a copy of the ‘Final Order’ of suspension for Mrs. Valerie Overstreet (Thomas). It has come to the attention of the Commission that Mrs. Overstreet (Thomas) had requested a hearing in this matter, but it was not received in a timely manner.
“In an effort to allow Mrs. Overstreet (Thomas) the full benefit of the appeals process, we have agreed to vacate her suspension at this time and schedule a hearing in this matter.
“Please disregard the suspension until further notice from our office. Mrs. Overstreet’s certificate will show in ‘pending’ status while it remains in due process.”
The PSC has not scheduled a hearing date.
Thomas’ 90-day suspension was set to begin on March 22. She said she did not repond to the PSC’s order within the 30-day deadline because she never received a copy of the order.
“My faith is strong, and I know God has a plan especially for me,” Thomas said. “He sent me here for a reason.”
When asked if she had retained a lawyer, Thomas replied, “Jesus is my lawyer, but I have hired one of his disciples.”
In August 2011, the state launched a massive probe into 2009 CRCT cheating allegations throughout the DCSS’s 16 elementary schools. The probe lasted four months and resulted in a two-volume, 294-page report that accused 49 teachers and administrators of either outright cheating or failure to supervise.
According to the PSC’s finding of fact in its orginal notification of suspension, as principal at Lamar Reese during the 2009 CRCTs, Thomas “had ultimate responsibility for testing activities within the elementary school in question including supervising all testing activities to ensure strict test security. Statistical analysis confirmed that cheating took place at the school in question. (Thomas) failed to supervise testing activities.”
After the governor’s report was released, the school system conducted 24 disciplinary tribunals. At the conclusion of those hearings, DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman was required by law to turn over all 49 case files to the PSC for final disposition.