DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has learned the names of six people Gov. Nathan Deal has chosen to fill vacant DeKalb County School Board seats.
Channel 2’s Erica Byfield was first to obtain the names of the new members minutes before the Tuesday morning news conference at the state Capitol.
The new members are John Coleman of District 1, Michael Erwin of District 3, David Campbell of District 5, Joyce Morley of District 7, Karen Carter of District 8 and Thad Mayfield of District 9.
“Help is on the way. We're going to get the job done. We will not fail. We will not falter,” Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond said moments after the group was sworn in.
More than 400 people applied for the open positions, including former politicians and local parents. A panel assembled by the governor immediately weeded out candidates who did not live in the county or did not meet the legal standard for the seat. Channel 2’s Aaron Diamant questioned the new members shortly after they became official.
"All jobs are difficult, but the idea is to get to work," said Carter, the veteran educator and Georgia Perimeter College business department chair representing District 8.
She’s not the only educator in the group. Erwin is a biology professor at Georgia Gwinnett College.
"I have young children that are going to be educated by DeKalb County's school system. I want to make sure they can get the best education they can get," Erwin said.
Mayfield is an educator and businessman. Coleman, an Invesco executive, is a financial expert with a master’s degree in business and public administration from Harvard University.
"There are thousands of folks in the community, taxpayers and parents, who are counting on us to provide some governance and make sure that trust is rebuilt in the system," Coleman said.
Campbell is a senior manager with Georgia Power and Mayfield is a senior partner with FOCOM, Inc., a Georgia-based business development firm.
Six previous school board members of the group of nine were suspended by the governor following a State Board of Education investigation. The state board made the decision after reviewing an audit by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that found fiscal mismanagement and unethical practices.
In the conference, Deal said he was pleased with the board replacements and that he stressed the importance of them working together cooperatively. The governor said he is hopeful that the new board will show "remarkable progress" with the issues SACS has shown concern about.
When asked about his decision not to reinstate the suspended board members, Deal replied, "This would be best if we started with a clean slate." He said he emphasized to the new members the importance of reaching a consensus on difficult issues.
"I expect great results to come forward," Deal added about the new members working with the new superintendent.
He said he trusted the recommendations of his appointed panel and "did not engage in the individual interviewing process."
"The racial makeup of the six (members) corresponds with the racial makeup of the six that were removed," Deal said.
His response comes after a heated exchange at the Capitol on Monday between the governor and members of Georgia's NAACP. Members of the civil rights group accused the governor of making racial overtones about the probation decision. But representatives for Deal said the group's claims were not true.
Deal, meanwhile, said the "panel deserves a great deal of credit" for their efforts to fill the positions.