The Dougherty County School System (DCSS) says Southside Middle School Principal Joey James will be suspended without pay for 15 days beginning Monday, April 25. James will return to work for the school system on May 16 and will report to a different school which has not been identified yet.
"This seemed to be a practical solution to the dilemma of having a kind of he-said-she-said argument about this and having to make a Solomon's choice," says Tommy Coleman, the attorney for DCSS.
In addition to being suspended, the school system says James will be placed on a PDP plan, meaning he will attend counseling and professional conduct workshops.
"They develop a plan or some sort of goals of certain things you're supposed to do along the way to remedy the situation," says Coleman.
DCSS says the decision was made on limited evidence after allegations were brought forward by a female employee that James had inappropriately touched her at the workplace.
"When a person has a contract with the school system, and the contract is what's required by Georgia law, you have to prove certain things, and if you don't have the evidence to prove it then you can't be fired," says Coleman.
Regarding the initial incident, the letter to James, signed by DCSS Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree says, "On March 15, 2011, your Assistant Principal, Ms. Patricia Green informed me of an incident where a Paraprofessional informed her of your conduct, which was inappropriate towards her."
In the letter dating April 22, 2011, James waived his right to a personnel hearing.
The superintendent discussed the case with the school board in executive session as well as with James before reaching a final decision on suspending and relocating James to a different school.
"When you have 3,000 employees and we've got 16,000 roughly students, and with that many employees and that many students, some of them commit crimes, and you just have to use your best judgment with each individual case to determine what an appropriate solution for the system at that particular moment is," says Coleman.