Gov. Deal accepts recommendation to suspend DeKalb school board members



ATLANTA - Gov. Nathan Deal is accepting a state panel's recommendation to suspend members of the DeKalb County School Board.

Last week, the state Board of Education recommended six of the nine DeKalb board members be removed from office following allegations of abusive behavior and financial mismanagement. Deal said he plans to sign an executive order Monday afternoon to remove the members.

"The stakes are indeed high. The future of almost 100,000 students who are in the DeKalb school system is indeed something we cannot take lightly," he said in a news conference at the state Capitol.

The DeKalb system, the state's third-largest public school system, is at risk of losing accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Deal said he will be appointing a nominating committee to recommend replacements for the ousted board members.

Meanwhile, the county board members have been fighting for their survival. They filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state law that gives the governor authority to suspend them. They also filed an emergency motion in federal court, hoping to stop Deal from taking action.

"I believe a state law is constitutional until somebody tells me otherwise," Deal said. 

Over the weekend, a federal judge signed an order saying Deal's decision cannot be enforced until a hearing is held Friday.

Parents have delivered to the governor a petition with more than 1,800 signatures asking him to remove the board members. 

"We have declining student achievement. We have financial problems and it is time for new leadership in DeKalb," parent Gil Hearn said.

Hearn is the founder of Parents for DeKalb County Schools, a group that was created to connect parents across the county to discuss issues related to the schools system during this time of uncertainty.

"The board has asked for a second chance. My children only get one chance for an education," Hearn said.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has put DeKalb County on probation because of a report the association issued in December about abusive behavior, nepotism and questionable financial decisions by board members. An ensuing shakeup left the board with a new chairman and new superintendent.

Channel 2 Action News

Delivered To Your Inbox