DeKalb superintendent in negotiations to end legal battle over board

by: Tony Thomas Updated:

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. —

Channel 2 Action News has learned of settlement negotiations in the DeKalb school board controversy.

The governor has suspended six school board members and an accrediting agency has put the district on probation.

At a meeting Tuesday night, interim superintendent Michael Thurmond told Channel 2's Tony Thomas he's negotiating with Gov. Nathan Deal and DeKalb County lawmakers and hopes to have a deal by Friday.

Thurmond said a deal would focus the attention in the state's third-largest district back on the classrooms instead of the courtroom.

Time is short though as a federal hearing looms on Friday.

"I'm going to do the best I can to refocus what we are doing," Thurmond told parents at community meeting at Martin Luther King Jr. High School Tuesday night.

The meeting was planned to talk about the district's accreditation issues, but just as many questions focused on the dysfunctional board and the governor's move to suspend six members and appoint others in their place.

"I'm working every day with the governor's office trying to resolve this constitutional crisis," Thurmond said.

The governor used a new state law to remove six of the district's nine members last week. The board then sued, saying the law is unconstitutional.

A federal court hearing is slated for Friday, where a judge could toss out the law or basically approve the board's removal.

"I think that there may be another path. The governor said this is not the best option but the only one he had. We are going to work with him and the DeKalb Legislative Delegation and see if we can perfect a better outcome," Thurmond told Thomas after the meeting.

"Before Friday?" Thomas asked

"Absolutely," Thurmond responded.

But parents aren't as concerned about the legal maneuverings as much as their children's futures.

"I think we are going to deal with those issues and I think the school district is going to recover from this situation," parent Henry Carter told Thomas.

Thurmond said the district is fine in the near term, without a functioning board.

A representative for Deal emailed Thomas a reply when he asked about any negotiations, saying they could not discuss anything about it at this juncture.