Georgias educator ethics watchdog agency has dismissed its case against Westside High Schools former principal.
A year ago, the Professional Standards Commission recommended punishment for Laura Perkins involving the way a contract worth nearly $200,000 was awarded. In an about-face Thursday, however, the commission dropped the case against her.
The state did not find any improprieties, said her attorney, Brad Wilson.
Wilson had appealed the commissions recommended penalty against Perkins -- 20 days without pay -- and requested a hearing in the case. After further investigation and discussions with the state Attorney Generals Office, he said, the PSC recognized that there was no substance in the initial report filed against Perkins by former Bibb County school Superintendent Romain Dallemand.
Perkins said Thursday she was confident she would be vindicated in time.
I was not willing to go down without a fight, she said. I always believed I had to fight for my school. ... I always believed this would be the end result.
Steve Smith, Bibb Countys interim school superintendent, said simply in a statement Thursday: I have full confidence in the decisions of the Professional Standards Commission.
On June 23, 2011, Perkins signed a $196,800 contract with ThisGen EdTech Solutions to administer a $1.7 million Blended Learning Opportunities Grant that focused on technology use in instruction. The company was formed by Julie Christopher, the school systems former IT director, the same day the contract was signed.
Perkins was put on paid administrative leave July 18, 2011, pending an investigation, after questions surfaced about whether money from the federal grant had been misused. On Aug. 10, Dallemand recommended her termination.
By mid-September, however, Perkins was reinstated to her job after a school system investigation. The system eventually dropped accusations against Perkins of failing to follow grant administration rules and of showing favoritism in awarding the contract to Christopher.
By then, however, Dallemands report to the PSC alleging that Perkins had not followed Bibb County policies had already been sent to Atlanta.
It was very unfortunate that Dr. Dallemand chose to send in the letter in the beginning that started the entire process, Wilson said. If the accusations had been investigated before the letter was sent to the PSC, tremendous time, expense and concern would have been avoided, he said.
She had complied with all of the regulations of the state Department of Education and was commended for the way she and her staff implemented the grant, he said. She followed the policies to a T.
Perkins, who took over as Westsides principal in 2006, retired at the end of the 2011-2012 school year and is working on opening a new charter school in Bibb County.
So why pursue an appeal?
Its a matter of principle and integrity youve worked all your life to build, Wilson said.
For her part, Perkins said she appreciates the support shes had from family and friends.
I dont know why it happened, but it did, she said. Now, you have to move on.
To contact writer Oby Brown, call 744-4396.