Court ruling upholds ousting of DeKalb school board

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Several DeKalb County school board members are permanently out of a job.

Georgia's Supreme Court handed down a ruling on Monday that has a major impact on their status and on public education.

The justices unanimously ruled that the law Gov. Nathan Deal used to remove them is constitutional.

In early 2013, Deal removed the group from the DeKalb County School Board following a decision by an accrediting agency to put the school district on probation.

With the governor's action, Eugene Walker, Donna Edler, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Nancy Jester, Jay Cunningham and Pamela Speaks lost their positions.

We reached two of the ousted board members. Neither agreed to an interview, but both told Channel 2's Erica Byfield they were disappointed.

Edler passed away in October.

Within in weeks of the suspension, Walker sued. Walker's attorney alleged the law the governor used was unconstitutional.

In the 47-page ruling, the justices on the state's highest court disagreed. The justices used the phrase "we are un-persuaded" several times throughout the opinion.

Byfield contacted former federal prosecutor Bill Thomas for clarity.

"His legal arguments have not been persuaded to the court. The authority that he cites," Thomas said.

The justices also wrote, "Few things are more important than the education of our children. As the people of Georgia seek to improve Georgia's educational system, this court must be mindful of the broad discretion granted by the constitution to local school boards to manage and control local school systems."

Thomas added the ruling should send a message to all current and future school board members.

"I think it certainly makes clear that there will be limited future challenges to this particular provision. I think they pretty much have spoken," Thomas said.

At least one of the school board members who was removed is expected to run for re-election.



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