Ousted DeKalb board member begins fight to get job back

by: Erica Byfield Updated:

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - It is now up to Georgia's highest court to decide if the removal of six DeKalb County school board members falls under the state constitution.

Channel 2 Action News has learned the attorney representing former board chairman Eugene Walker filed a brief in State Supreme Court on April 19.

A state board recommended Gov. Nathan Deal suspend and remove Walker and five other board members in February following its review of an accrediting agency audit that found gross mismanagement.

Walker is now represented by attorney Thomas Cox, who filed a 31-page brief on Monday.

Cox contends lawmakers over-stepped their authority in 2010 when they crafted a law that gave the governor the ability to remove elected school board members if the agency that accredits schools put the district on probation.
 
"Local county school boards are established by the Georgia Constitution, and members of those local boards are constitutional officials who are elected by local voters and may be removed from office only through the recall process," the brief reads.
 
"The constitution says nothing else about any other method of removing a local school board member," Cox told Channel 2's Erica Byfield.
 
He added the governor's actions stepped on voter rights.
 
A spokesman for the governor said, "The governor took the one route available to him under Georgia law."
 
Cox also told Byfield the constitutionality of the board members is a state issue, not just a DeKalb County issue.
 
"We see this as about a question that is a lot bigger than DeKalb County, it involves every school system in the state and the question is who makes the decisions," he said.
 
The Georgia Attorney General's Office has 20 days to respond to Cox's brief.

Oral arguments are expected to begin in June.



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