Gov. Deal to Sign Order Removing 6 DeKalb School Board Members

4:39 PM, Feb 25, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA (WXIA)- Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday he'll remove six of the nine members of the DeKalb County School Board, but a federal court order now has to be addressed.

Deal said in a news conference that he was naming six persons to determine who should replace the outgoing board members.

MORE | Continuing Coverage of DeKalb school issues

11Alive News has confirmed a federal judge signed an order that in essence prevents any board member from losing their job until they have their say in federal court.  That is expected to happen Friday.

When asked about it, Deal said his decision would not affect the court hearing. He said that he felt his decision was within the letter of the law.

The bigger question is whether those members will continue to try and stop him.

They tried unsuccessfully to stop a marathon 14-hour State Board of Education hearing Thursday that ended with the state board voting unanimously to recommend the removals based on misconduct and mismanagement.

Evidence against them included being put on academic probation last December, poor bookkeeping practices and what their accrediting agency called a decade of decline.

They also have a court hearing set for next Thursday challenging the constitutionality of the 2011 law that created the removal process.

As he toured new construction at Chamblee Charter High School on Friday, Interim School Superintendent Michael Thurmond said he is more concerned with where the school system goes from here.

"What we're ready to do is to pivot and focus back on improving our academic performance and helping and supporting our teachers on reaching out and communicating with parents," Thurmond told 11Alive News.

Shawn Keefe is one of many DeKalb County parents who want a new board.

He hopes the focus will finally shift from political bickering to the 99,000 students in Georgia's third largest school system.

"I'm hoping that the recommendation paves the way for us to start anew and, hopefully, improve the situation in the county," he told 11Alive.

Many are also hoping that the school board will not continue its fight to save their seats and have the removal law thrown out.

"If they feel they need to sue, do it on your own dime," parent Robin Malinovsky told 11Alive.

"Don't make me pay for it and I don't know if I'd want to sue for a job that nobody wanted me to have anyway," she added.

Newly elected School Board Chairman Melvin Johnson is one of three members not included in the removal recommendation since they just took office.

He would not predict if the full board would continue their legal battle to remain intact.

Johnson said part of their reaction will depend on what the Governor decides next week.

"We're operating right now as a board, so whatever the decisions are, that's why we have to take on item at a time in terms of what we will do," he said.

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