Ex-DeKalb Co. School Board chairman fights suspension

by: Erica Byfield Updated:

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. —

The former chairman of the DeKalb County School Board is fighting to get his seat back.

The governor removed Dr. Eugene Walker and five other board members in early 2013.

On Wednesday, Walker had his reinstatement hearing. Walker is the third suspended board member to have such a hearing.

Two others will plead their cases to a state administrative hearing judge in mid-July.

Walker told the courtroom he did not understand why he was removed.

He was questioned about what led to a deficit for the school system for the 2013 school year.

"Board members were not the ones who set the budget, that was staff," Walker said.
 
Parents and former and current school board employees also testified in the hearing.  None of them said they felt Walker did anything that out led to his removal.

The state contends Walker and the other suspended board members were dysfunctional and if reinstated would not be able to help the district regain accreditation. 

The state's attorney also suggested the suspended board members incurred excessive legal fees, ignored nepotism and had chain of command problems.

Walker testified he disagreed with the assessments.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) put the district on probation in Dec. 2012

Walker's attorney told Channel 2’s Erica Byfield she planned to call as many as 10 witnesses.
 
The state is expected on call two witnesses on Friday when the hearing continues.  One person expected to testify is the director of SACS.

Walker is the school board member who is challenging the state law used to remove the board members.

The Georgia Supreme Court is expected to rule on that issue in the coming months. 

Sarah Copelin-Wood and Pamela Speaks have already had their hearings. Suspended board members Jay Cunningham and Donna Edler will go before the judge in mid-July.