Today, the DeKalb Board of Education appears before the state Board of Education to answer this summons:
It is hereby ordered that the Members of the DeKalb County BOE should appear on Thursday, January 17, 2013, at 1:00 p,m. before the State Board for a hearing and to present evidence as to why the State Board should not recommend to the Governor that he suspend, with pay, the Members of the DeKalb County BOE pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73.
Once the state board hears the evidence, it has two weeks to send its recommendation to Gov. Nathan Deal. If the governor opts to suspend the DeKalb board members, he must suspend all of them and appoint replacements. The replacements would serve the remainders of the term of the members they replace, so their tenures would vary.
I asked DOE to check with its legal folks on whether Deal can choose to reappoint current board members since three DeKalb board members are brand new, Melvin Johnson, Marshall Orson and Jim McMahan.
It appears he can. Here is the response from Gregg Stevens, DOE Deputy General Counsel: I am unaware of any provision in law that would preclude the Governor from reappointing a board member that was removed from office as part of the proceedings under O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73.
In 2010, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue removed Warren County’s school board, but the state Supreme Court overturned that decision. In response, the General Assembly passed a law in 2011 that gave the governor the legal power to remove errant school boards who jeopardize their district’s accreditation.
Last year, Deal used the new law for the first time to oust the entire five-member Miller County board and appoint all new members.
My prediction on DeKalb: The state board will grant the DeKalb board members more time to respond to concerns and to offer up a corrective plan before it moves to advise the governor to oust them.
There is a precedent; the state board twice summoned the Miller County board to Atlanta for hearings to discuss the problems. It was only after the second hearing that the state board voted unanimously to recommend that Deal dissolve the board.
I can’t imagine that the state board would not afford the DeKalb County board the same opportunity to reform itself before taking the dramatic action of overriding county voters and removing elected officials.
While anyone can attend today’s 1 p.m. hearing in downtown Atlanta, the state board will not take public comment. Get there early if you want a seat in the main board room. I understand there will be overflow accommodations.
A reader sent this request:
I am one of the concerned taxpayers and community members in DeKalb. I am also a longtime resident who is witnessing the county’s complete erosion due to horrible administrations and self-serving boards.
I was wondering if you could put a blog post out today asking DeKalb residents what they would tell the State Board of Education members and jurors at tomorrow’s hearing for the DeKalb Board of Education members. Would they request unseating all the members (I hear that it is an all or nothing option) or would they give these current board members more time to get their act together?
The State BOE needs to hear loud and clear what DeKalb wants and understand that the Board cannot do its job because of the issues in the administration, but a decent Board can set policy to help stop some of the abuses in the administration. I know that the state education honchos read your blog, so I thought it would be a great reference document.
What would you tell the state board if you had a chance to address the members at their meeting tomorrow?
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog