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Summative Assessments: Your New Appeal Rights

By Lauren Atkinson

Staff Attorney

Georgia educators are evaluated annually for their job performance. This requirement is derived from state law and Georgia State Board of Education (SBOE) rules. [1] The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) developed the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) as a tool for these evaluations. Each year, after completing the TKES process, educators receive an overall summative rating of “Exemplary,” “Proficient,” “Needs development,” or “Ineffective.” While not all personnel are evaluated using TKES, there is still an annual evaluation process that occurs according to local board policies and state law. Until recently, Georgia teachers had an appeal right for procedural deficiencies pertaining to the evaluation process, but no appeal right for a disagreement on an actual summative rating. Last year, Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 86 (HB 86), sponsored by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) and carried in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga). This bill revised code section 20-2-989.7, titled “matters not subject to complaint.” [2] HB 86 requires a policy to be created for teachers to appeal performance ratings of “Unsatisfactory” or “Ineffective.” [3]

The following addresses some of the most commonly asked questions regarding this revised section of law.

When does HB86 take effect?

The newly revised law took effect on July 1, 2021 [4]

Do all Georgia educators have the right to appeal an “Unsatisfactory” or “Ineffective” rating under code section 20-2-989.7?

According to the revised law, only educators who have signed their fourth or subsequent consecutive contract with their employing district have a right to appeal these ratings. [5]

What is the first thing you should do if you want to exercise your appeal right?

Educators should consult their local board policies to ensure they are meeting all requirements to initiate the appeal process in their school district. Each district will have its own requirements.

What are districts required to include in their local policy?

The new appeals policy must include: (1) a method and reasonable timelines for filing an appeal that minimize the burden on both parties, (2) a statement that a teacher shall not be the subject of any reprisal as a result of filing an appeal under code section 20-2-989.7, (3) a provision that an appeal hearing may be conducted by an independent third party or an administrator in the system office on behalf of the school official or local unit of administration, and (4) a method to receive the decision of the independent third party or system administrator. [6]

Who conducts the appeal hearing?

The newly revised code section states that appeal hearings may be conducted by an independent third party on behalf of school officials, a school administrator in the system office or local unit of administration. [7] Educators should consult their local board policies to see who conducts the hearing at each level of the appeal process.

Can an educator have a representative present during the appeal process?

Code section 20-2-989.7 is silent on this point. [8] Therefore, educators should consult their local board policies to see if a representative is allowed and, if so, on which levels of the appeal process.

Do districts have to submit these appeal policies to anyone?

Each county was required to submit a copy of its complaint policy established pursuant to code section 20-2-989.7 to the GaDOE no later than August 1, 2021. If the policy changes, the code requires that these changes be submitted as well. [9]

What can the subject of a complaint be under the revised code section?

Educators can submit a complaint that pertains to the following issues under this code section: (1) procedural deficiencies (2) summative performance ratings of “Unsatisfactory” or “Ineffective” contained in personnel evaluations conducted pursuant to code section 20-2-210, and (3) job performance. [10]

What cannot be a subject of complaint under the revised code section?

An educator cannot submit a complaint pertaining to the following subjects: (1) termination, (2) non-renewal, (3) demotion, (4) reprimands, (5) certificate actions like suspension, revocation, etc., and (6) anything already appealed to the SBOE under code section 20-2-1160. [11]

What happens if an educator is subjected to retaliation for filing appeal under code section 20-2-989.7?

The law states: “Should any reprisal occur, the teacher may refer the matter to the Professional Standards Commission.” [12] Any teacher who believes retaliation has occurred for exercising their appeal right under this law should contact the PAGE legal department by calling 770-216-8555 (option 1) or by sending an email to


[1] O.C.G.A. §§20-2-200(2010), 210(2010), 240(2014); State Board of Education Rule 160-5-1-.37 (2016) [2] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) [3] Education; complaints policy for teachers and other school personnel; provisions, H.B. 86, 155th Cong. (2021) [4] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) [5] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) [6] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) [7] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) [8] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) [9] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) [10] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) [11] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) [12] O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021)


Lauren Atkinson is a PAGE staff attorney. A former middle school educator with Atlanta Public Schools and graduate of Mercer University School of Law, Atkinson has served PAGE members since 2018.


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