Investigative Hints from the Professional Standards

Georgia Professional Standards
Employee Expectations
• Set Guidelines - Clear statements of Rules &
Regulations, Standards and Job Descriptions, Goals and
Objectives, Mission Statements.
•Resources - Teacher Handbook, Policy and Procedures
Manual, Education Law, DOE, Federal Regulations.
•Establish a clear Chain of Command Principal, Assistant Principals, Lead Teachers, Other
Administrative Staff.
•Respect - Fair, Supportive, Consistent, Credible, Trust.
Which headline will you see in the
morning paper?
249,999 Teachers do a great job.
Teacher arrested for child
Why do Teachers Fail?
Teachers usually tell the investigator, “This is the way that
I have always done it and it has been okay.” or “The
administrators knew what I was doing this and I was never
informed that it was not right.”
Leaders are responsible for setting the
example, establishing limits, and making
Investigation Goal
Obtain as much information
as possible. The more
information that is obtained
the easier it becomes to make
a decision.
Follow local policies
and procedures in
investigating alleged
Remain objective!
If you cannot remain objective,
assign someone else to do the
Administrators Convey Poor Image to
Judge and/or Jury:
– Poor Attitude, Appearance and Preparation
– Arrogance or Hostility
– Little or No Documentation of Facts
– No Evidence
Plan the Investigation
• Who is in charge of the investigation?
• What facts are needed to substantiate or prove
unsubstantiated the allegation?
• What documentation is available?
• Is there evidence that needs to be collected?
• Who should be interviewed? (What information is
• What other agencies (DFCS, Police, District
Attorney, etc.)? need to be involved
• What independent actions should the school
system take immediately?
Begin Immediately
• Secure Physical Evidence
• Photograph the scene of the event
• Document what happened
• Make a list of potential witnesses
Incident Report
Document the
Incident Type (Theft, Assault, Alcohol, etc.)
Date/Time of Incident
Date/Time Reported
This template is available at for download
and use. Contact your HR
Director if you want a copy.
Reported To
Participants (Name, Home/Work Addresses, Contact Information)
Decide what information
you will need and create
a report format to assist
you in documenting the
investigation. It is easy
to forget something if
you don’t have a good
report form.
Location of Incident
Complainant (Name, Home/Work Addresses, Contact Information)
Witnesses (Name, Home/Work Addresses, Contact Information - Use back of sheet if additional space is needed)
Description of the incident (What Happened?)
List of Evidence Collected
Reported to
Law Enforcement?
Certification Information (Name, Certificate #, Position held)
Example:Teacher suspected of being
under the influence at school
• Secure Physical Evidence - alcoholic beverage, cup, water
bottle, pill bottle, baggie, etc.
• Photograph the scene of the event - condition of teacher,
where evidence found, blackboard
• Document what happened - date &time, how you became
aware, glassy eyes, slurred speech, unsteady, offered sobriety
test, test administration info., test results, etc.
• Make a list of potential witnesses - witnessed the teacher’s
conduct, who smelled the beverage, who administered the test,
PSC Case – One year suspension
• On 3-18-10, the educator did not report to work. The principal called
the educator at home at 8:53am and awakened the educator. The
educator stated he was on his way to school.
• The educator arrived at school a short time later and started instructing
the students.
• The principal and assistant principal went to the educator’s
classroom to see if he had arrived. They smelled alcohol on the
educator’s breath. The educator was escorted to the school office
where the principal asked him if he would take a sobriety test.
• The educator consented and the School Resource Officer (SRO) was
• The SRO contacted an on duty law enforcement officer (Testing
Officer) who reported to the school and administered an Alco-Sensor
test on the educator. The educator was given multiple tests with a high
reading of .10 and a low reading of .06.
• The educator admitted that he had consumed alcohol the night before
and stated that the information reported by the system was correct.
If a Criminal Act has been committed
• Secure all evidence
• Contact Law Enforcement
• Document what has been done
O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5
An oral report shall be made as soon as possible by telephone or
otherwise and followed by a report in writing, if requested, to a child welfare
agency providing protective services, as designated by the Department of
Human Resources of any reports of ‘Child abuse’ including:
Physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker (by other
than accidental means)
Neglect or exploitation of a child by a parent or caretaker
Sexual abuse - sexual intercourse; masturbation; lewd exhibition; …physical contact in
an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification ... “Sexual abuse” shall not include
consensual sex acts involving persons of the opposite sex when the sex acts are between
•Sexual exploitation - conduct by a child’s parent or caretaker who allows, permits,
encourages, or requires that child to engage in: prostitution; or sexually explicit conduct for
the purpose of producing any visual or print medium depicting such conduct.
Garrity Rule
• Do not present information to law enforcement officials
that violates the Garrity Rule.
The Garrity Rule
• “If an employee is compelled to answer questions as a
condition of employment, the employee's answers and the
fruits of the answers may not be used against the employee
in a subsequent criminal prosecution.”
The Garrity Rule Expands – Gardner V. Broderick
• “There exist affirmative limitations on an employer's
ability to require answers to questions asked during an
investigation of an employee, the questions must be
"specifically, narrowly, and directly" tailored to the
employee's job.
• Tape record interviews
• Interview Individually
• Interview Witnesses First
• Prepare questions
• Control the Environment
• Establish Rapport
Control the environment.
Establish Rapport
Do Not Be Accusatory
Do Not Interrupt – Allow for Spontaneous
Use Reflective Listening – Repeat back what
was just said
Arguing does not work - Do Not put a person
in a position where they have to defend
The majority of the talking should come
from the person being interviewed.
Questions you need to ask.
WHO was involved?
WHAT happened?
WHEN did it happen?
WHERE did it happen?
WHY did it happen?
HOW did it happen?
Avoid Leading Questions
Do you remember X?
Avoid Yes or No Questions.
Were you at the gym on Friday?
Ask: Where were you on Friday?
Avoid Negative Wording
You don’t remember X, do you?
Allow the witness to talk.
Ask: Tell me what you remember about ...
Rephrase and repeat :
“Is there other information
that you can remember/provide
that would be helpful in
determining what happened?”
Silence is Okay
During the Interview
Observe the body language of the
person being interviewed.
Be aware of your body language
(tone of voice, gestures, eyes and facial
Detecting a Lie
Kinetic Interviewing
Establish a baseline
Voice inflection (pitch)
Body language (movements)
Avoidance techniques
Eye movement
Establishing a Baseline • How does he person behave when they are telling
the truth?
• Ask questions that are not threatening and observe
the subject’s reactions while they are answering
the questions.
What is your name?
What is your address?
What subjects do you teach?
Voice Inflection
• Listen for changes in voice pitch, inflection
or volume.
• Inappropriate laugh
• Voice changes occur 95% of the time when
a person lies. Volume increases and voice
pitch increases.
Stress Indicators
Pause before answering question.
Repeating question
Licking lips; touching mouth; rubbing nose;
crossing arms; pulling on earlobes
Body Language
• Drumming fingers
• Tapping feet; shacking foot
• Raising (shrugging) shoulders
• Pointing behavior (leaning toward the exit)
• Rapid heartbeat
• Deep breathing
• Changes in complexion
• Be aware of your body language
(tone of voice, gestures, eyes and facial expressions.)
Avoidance Techniques
• Swearing that a statement is true –
Honestly; I swear; You have got to believe
• Evasive answers – I do not remember; Not
really; I might have; I don’t know; I don’t
recall; To the best of my knowledge
• Avoidance of eye contact
• Direction subject is looking while
formulating answer
• Changes in the eyes
• Rapid eye movements
Questions to Ask
What do you think should happen to a person
that did something like this____?
• A guilty person will generally ask for some
type of help. Possibly suggest a minor
Is there a reason that your fingerprints or
personal effects were found at ____?
• A guilty person will find a reason for
evidence linking them to the event could
have been found at _____.
Questioning Children
•Open-Ended Questions - avoid the use of questions
that typically result in a Yes or No answer.
•Do not assume that you understand. If at first you
don’t understand what they are trying to tell you,
ask them to re-state what they want to say.
•Allow the child to move around, fiddle it allows the
child feel they have some control.
•Listen and observe nonverbal expressions. Indirect
approaches work best with reluctant children.
•Encourage the child to expand, “What happened
next?” and “You were saying that ____ ”
•Adolescents - written statements are possibly more
effective than interviews. They tend to express private
After the Interview
1. Document what you observed
2. Transcribe your Tape and Notes
3. Have the Transcript Signed
4. Obtain a Written Statement
5. Keep Notes in a Separate File
6. Complete the Record
Behaviors to Watch for When
Adults Are With Children
Have you ever seen someone playing
with a child and felt uncomfortable with
it? Maybe you thought, "I'm just overreacting," or, "He/She doesn't really
mean that." If you are uncomfortable, be
sure to trust your instincts and ask
Do you know an adult who:
• Makes others uncomfortable by ignoring social, emotional or
physical boundaries or limits?
• Refuses to let a student set any of his or her own limits? Uses
teasing or belittling language to keep a student from setting a
• Insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or
holding a student even when the student does not want this
physical contact or attention?
• Turns to a student for emotional or physical comfort by sharing
personal or private information or activities, normally shared with
• Frequently points out sexual images or tells dirty or suggestive
jokes to students?
• Has secret interactions with students (e.g. games, drugs,
alcohol, or sexual material) or spends time emailing, text
messaging or calling students?
• Is overly interested in the sexuality of a student (e.g., talks
repeatedly about students’ developing bodies or their dating
• Insists on or manages to spend uninterrupted time alone
with a student?
• Seems “too good to be true, i.e. frequently volunteers for
various student activities; takes students on special outings
alone; buys students gifts or gives them money reason?
• Is not age appropriate with students – acts like a student?
(dresses, talks, tries to look like student – identifies with
students, not a role model)
Do you know someone who:
• May experience typical gestures of
friendliness or affection as sexual?
• Explores his or her own natural sexual
curiosity with younger children or those of
differing size, status, ability, or power?
• Seeks out the company of younger children
and spends an unusual amount of time
with them rather than with peers?
Do you know an employee who:
• Misses or ignores social cues about students’
personal or sexual limits and boundaries?
• Often has a "special" student friend, maybe a
different one from year to year?
• Spends an unusual amount of time with
students and shows little interest in spending
time with peers?
• Encourages silence and secrets with students?
• Links sexuality and aggression in language or
behavior, e.g. sexualized threats or insults, like
“whore” or “slut”?
Makes fun of students’ body parts, describes students with
sexual words like “stud” or “sexy” or talks again and again
about the sexual activities of students?
Seems unclear about what's appropriate with students?
Has been known to make poor decisions while misusing
drugs or alcohol?
Looks at child pornography or downloads/views Internet
pornography or other inappropriate material?
Justifies behavior or finds reasons to explain poor choices or
harmful acts; blames others as a way to refuse
responsibility for behaviors?
Minimizes hurtful or harmful behaviors when confronted;
denies harmfulness of actions or words despite apparent
Sexual Harassment
• Under Title VII, once there is a complaint of sexual
harassment, the employer has a duty to investigate. It must
discharge this duty promptly: right away, immediately. The
employer should still investigate, even if the complainant
doesn't want it to.
• If a fact-finding investigation is necessary, it should be
launched immediately. The case law shows that this advice is
to be taken fairly literally: "immediately”.
• Consideration should be given to having the investigation
conducted by outside independent counsel. (Competency and
Attorney - Client privilege.)
Testing Investigations
• Establish a chain of custody and access – how was
the test distributed and secured
• Establish that the educator was trained and describe
the training (sign in sheet, agenda, date and time,
copies of PowerPoint presentation)
• Who are the witnesses (proctors, test coordinators,
other teachers, students, etc.)
• Identify unusual gains and spikes in students’ scores
– and determine if that educator is administering the
test properly
Testing Investigations
• Check the computer files and lesson plans
• Check the trash cans in the classroom where
there is an allegation of misconduct
• Check the paperwork at the educator’s work
• Check students’ answer documents and
scratch paper
• Immediately respond to allegations of
misconduct – prevent damage control
Avoid Testing Irregularities
• The principal is responsible for the proper
administration of standardized tests at his or
her school
• Establish clear guidelines and create an
atmosphere that does not allow for
deviations from the test manuals
• Impress upon the teachers that there will be
consequences for their actions
• Participate in the test administration – you
are not a spectator
Report Unethical Conduct
to the
Professional Standards
Employment Issues involving
medical problems,
physical health,
emotional or mental health,
and local policy
should be handled at the local level.
Professional Standards Commission
Ethics Division
Contact Information
Gary Walker, Director
John Grant, Chief Investigator
Georgia Professional Standards Commission
[email protected]