Court denies DeKalb school board attempt to halt Thursday’s hearing. But the case is just beginning.

The state hearing that could unseat the nine members of the DeKalb County school board will go on  as scheduled Thursday morning in front of the state Board of Education after a judge ruling this morning.

However, the case will continue, so the board could ultimately prevail in its attempts to stay in power if it wins its legal claims. There is a hearing next week on the board’s legal challenge to whether the state can oust school board members en masse when a system is at risk of losing accreditation.

According to the AJC:

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Amanda Lee on Wednesday declined DeKalb’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have halted the proceedings. But Lee left open the possibility of a future court ruling that would prohibit the board’s removal.

The judge declined the restraining order over a technical issue: DeKalb failed to comply with a law that requires five-day notice to the state to suspend a proceeding.

The Georgia Board of Education has scheduled an 8 a.m. hearing Thursday with the DeKalb school board. The state board must decide whether to recommend suspension of the DeKalb board to Gov. Nathan Deal. A 2011 state law authorizes the removal of school boards in districts where accreditation is in probationary status.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed DeKalb on probation in December and threatened to strip accreditation altogether if the DeKalb board fails to address alleged mismanagement in Georgia’s third largest school system.

Although Judge Lee denied the request to halt the state hearing on the timing issue, her order says DeKalb may yet get a restraining order.

DeKalb asserts that the aw is unconstitutional by denying the local board due process. The state is not required to produce “any specific charges,” DeKalb asserts.

The state law basically allows a non-governmental agency such as SACS to create the evidence that is then used as the basis for suspension. SACS used anonymous sources throughout its report, and did not specify documents used to buttress every allegation.

The lawsuit contends that local voters would be disenfranchised if the state removed their elected officials because they failed to “remain in the good graces of an unelected, unaccountable private agency.”

Judge Lee wrote that “it appears that plaintiffs have shown that immediate and irreparable harm may still occur” to them after the state hearing.

If the state board recommends removal, Deal would be authorized to suspend the DeKalb board with pay and appoint temporary replacements.

Lee scheduled a hearing for Feb. 28 at 8:30 a.m. when the state must argue against granting DeKalb an order that restrains Deal from acting.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

73 comments Add your comment

DunMoody

February 20th, 2013
12:27 pm

While there are legal arguments on both side to be made, there’s also a moral imperative that many on the school board simply do not recognize. That won’t change, regardless of the looming and costly legal battle that the school board has just launched to protect their “rights” as elected officials.

Their rights apparently have precedence over the rights of the children in DeKalb County to a quality education.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Anonymous in DeKalb

February 20th, 2013
12:31 pm

Give parents tuition vouchers and let them decide which schools, public or private, best meet their child’s needs — and all this becomes irrelevant.

Dunwoody Mom

February 20th, 2013
12:37 pm

Maureen, when you say the “state must argue…” does that imply the Attorney General?

Maureen Downey

February 20th, 2013
12:41 pm

@Dunwoody, The AG will represent the state in the lawsuit.
Maureen

Shar

February 20th, 2013
12:42 pm

If the Board members were forced to pay for their own legal efforts at self-preservation they would have to look at the likelihood of successfully defending their record, and perhaps some semblance of rationality would return. Right now they face no consequences for their continued rape of DeKalb tax money and the future of DeKalb students, and big consequences if their financial and governance malfeasance sees the light of day.

Pull the plug on lawyers’ fees.

Pardon My Blog

February 20th, 2013
12:42 pm

As one against school vouchers, that may be where we are headed. Even though it is a timing issue, perhaps the citizens of DeKalb can counter-sue for removal based on several issues, most recently all of their closed door sessions making decisions that should have been open to the public.

Eugene Walker Must Go

February 20th, 2013
12:47 pm

This is very bad. Sounds like another Deal power grab. Be careful what you ask for DeKalb residents. Instead of getting involved you want the Governor to do your job. You have a recall process, use it. See how easy it will be to remove 9 appointed and unaccountable bureaucrats appointed by the Governor.

Chamblee Dad

February 20th, 2013
12:50 pm

Prediction: State decides to remove them tomorrow, they push on with the hearing next week, win, at least for now, get an order that prevents Deal from replacing them. More attorney fees are amassed, the fight drags on, more articles daily, Deal, Millar, Shutten, etc. are outraged, parents (like me) at wit’s end, posters from out of DeKalb poke fun, mock this pathetic mess (rightfuly so) while those of us who do have a dog in the fight continue to bash our heads against a wall. Talk grows for recall efforts, maybe some get serious, weeks & months drag on, the DCSS drops a budget timebomb on us right before school is out. The debate drags into the summer.

Q. Do any of those selfish jerks really care about educating our children? Then PROVE IT & RESIGN!!!!! . . . . idiots . . . .

Uncle Herman

February 20th, 2013
12:50 pm

Hilarious…once again DeKalb illustrates its utter failure and contempt for itself, the taxpayers and students. Dekalb, S Fulton, Clayton, APS…all the same toilet.

HA HA…AHHH HAHAHAHAHAHAA!

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

February 20th, 2013
12:50 pm

What a sad state of affairs. I’ve lived in Dekalb since 1984, graduated from Dekalb schools, and rarely have I been this embarassed of my elected officials. This BOE makes Vernon Jones and Cynthia McKinney look like brilliant leaders.

I don’t know that the AJC is really helping the situation either, with the non-stop drama and vitriolic commentary.

Dunwoody Mom

February 20th, 2013
12:56 pm

@Chamblee Dad – sadly, I agree your scenario is most likely how this will all play out.

:)

February 20th, 2013
12:59 pm

Everyone on the outside enjoys watching Dekalb fail at every turn. Never forget that.

Mom of 3

February 20th, 2013
12:59 pm

Question- If the board is kicked out tomorrow and a new board put in place, can the new board vote to not pay for the lawyers representing the board on the 28th? Would they have to come up with their own funds?

Pardon My Blog

February 20th, 2013
1:03 pm

Unfortunately they are not “at-large”, instead they represent certain districts and the individuals that really are the problem would survive a recall because the voters in those districts truly are clueless. If this Board truly felt that they wanted to do the best for the district, they would all resign and then perhaps DeKalb should have 7 members (all at-large) voted on in a special election. There should also be certain qualifying criteria to run. This would ensure that DeKalb is represented by DeKalb and that the taxpayers truly have recourse should a certain individual needed removal.

vietnamvet

February 20th, 2013
1:07 pm

Richard

February 20th, 2013
1:09 pm

It would seem to be much faster and cleaner to simply recall the board and hold a special election. County tax dollars aren’t wasted on litigation, citizens retain their political voice, the Governor isn’t seen as power hungry, and those incompetent ‘leaders’ are put out to paster. Lets just hope Dekalb doesn’t pull a Clayton and put crooked people BACK in office.

GD

February 20th, 2013
1:11 pm

If the State decides tomorrow that the Board can work to meet the requirements set forth by SACS in its investigation, there is no case. It is not the beginning.

vietnamvet

February 20th, 2013
1:11 pm

Something is wrong somewhere when an elected sheriff, charged with numerous felonies, cannot be removed from office by the governor and an elected school board, not charged with any crime, can be removed from office by the governor.

vietnamvet

February 20th, 2013
1:19 pm

Something is wrong some where: During the 60′ school boards, regulated by SACS openly refused to abide by the rule of law. Refused to obey the law of the land. None were removed from office, nor was a law put in place to remove them from office for defying the law. Moreover, not one school district lost it’s accreditation. Yet, today. now…

Pardon My Blog

February 20th, 2013
1:22 pm

Well, when the future of children is at stake, I think that everything that can be done should be done.

Inman Parker

February 20th, 2013
1:27 pm

If this leads to a voucher system, then I say “hooray!”

Recall

February 20th, 2013
1:41 pm

I am not a DCSD parent – I am a Dekalb county resident but within the City of Atlanta. APS is no picnic, but this is just unbelievable. These people are truly exemplifying everything we should NOT see in a member of a school board. Obviously. A couple of things…1) they have to have 5 board members present to have a quorum (I read somewhere that the original vote to hire legal representation to file the lawsuit was made when only 4 members were present). If a vote was conducted with less than 5 members than whatever is decided is not binding. Of course, we may not know for sure because the meeting was closed, which I agree with Pardon My Blog – is also not supposed to be happening. To all you Dekalb parents, I would suggest that you check out the DCSD website, their rules, and then you can link to Lexis to see the actual law. Then go to whomever you can – city council, dekalb county commissioners, legislative delegation and find out what you can do if they did indeed violate the open meetings act and/or failed to have a quorum. Just my 2 cents….

Kneecompoop

February 20th, 2013
1:45 pm

@Vietnamvet Shut it down, baby! Shut it down! I know what you mean because I attened a segregated school in DeKalb in the 60s!

living in an outdated ed system

February 20th, 2013
1:47 pm

This is preposterous!! The parents must pressure the board to resign. They are wasting taxpayer dollars on this lunacy! The board should do the right thing – NOW. Tomorrow is going to be a circus and Dekalb will be the laughingstock of not only Georgia, but our nation.

Chamblee Dad

February 20th, 2013
1:49 pm

@ Dunwoody Mom – I’ve just lived it over the past 8 years & I know you have too from seeing your posts during that time. I never posted until recently, but have tried to fight the good fight – volunteer, serve on my school council, speaking at many board meetings, e-mailing/writing all board members, supers.,central office staff, attended almost every public input meeting, etc. I use Chamblee because that’s really where I live & my 3 kids go to school. But I’m not just focused on our cluster, I truly want the whole system to work, it benefits us all.

I’ll never forget that after the first time I spoke before the board 8 years ago, I was approached & engaged by both Lewis & Moseley, this long-time cynic actually thought the parents could have their voices heard & maybe even bring about change. Silly me.

And to some of you posters, I know we in DeKalb voted these guys in, I voted for Jester, not entirely displeased with her service, often satisfied, but not always. But we didn’t vote them all in, & if the only way for us the rebuild is to lose my current board member along with the others, even though I voted for her, so be it. It would be for the greater good. Perhaps she could find her way back on.

And yes I agree that a member-by-member recall would in theory bring about a more equitable result, how long would that take? and more to the point, the members that we generally agree are the worst would almost certainly not be recalled.

So again, it appears this legal fight will drag on. The only true solution today would be for them all to resign. Who has the dignity & concern for the children to do it? Sadly, if anyone, it would be those who have done the least damage.

catlady

February 20th, 2013
1:49 pm

For those of you talking “recall” it is much harder to do than you think. In my county it was begun and although there were many, many who wanted it, the board/authorities had much leeway to quash it. So the voters removed every one of those up for election overwhelmingly, and plan to get the other 2 next time around. Unfortunately, much more damage will be done by then. It has been a wake up call to the board, who were accustomed to being reelected with no question.

Based on our experience, it is very difficult to recall.

catlady

February 20th, 2013
1:52 pm

Could one of you Dekalbites post the “jobs” and education the current board members have?

Ole Guy

February 20th, 2013
1:53 pm

RED-GD-TAPE…

Glenda

February 20th, 2013
1:56 pm

I think this board should have long been voted out. For this board to say that they will be put out of their position by non-elected official is a bunch of mess, because they are voted in because no one runs against them. They have been doing a poor job and it shows most of the schools in South DeKalb are failing the children can barely read. They feel that they should keep their positions why they have nothing to show that they should keep their jobs. The only way we judge schools is by the number of children who graduate and go on to post secondary facilities. DeKalb County of the last 12 months. These people should have lost their positions years ago I am just sad to know that they have not already lost their positions.

bu2

February 20th, 2013
2:02 pm

The saying is, “Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.” If the blog linked in the previous article is correct, some of the people anxious to get the board removed will be surprised to find Representative Mosby personally appointing much of the new board. If they are unhappy with Walker, just wait until Mosby puts his prints on the school district. For anyone who thinks the board can’t get worse, you’re wrong. While noone claimed credit for it, Mosby, as head of the Dekalb legislative delegation, is believed to be partly responsible for the redistricting plan that took away the right to vote this year for school board members and entrenched Walker, Woods, Cunningham, Edler and Jester as the full 5 member board without any vote. Fortunately, that plan got defeated.

Where is the Beef?

February 20th, 2013
2:03 pm

School closures, reassignment of principals, wage freezes, pay reductions, furlough days, reductions in health benefits and retirement contributions, district staff reductions, increased classroom size, increase in school taxes, five superintendents or, acting as such, in ten years. All this and who knows what else under this board and DCSS is still broken. Exit stage left!

J Throckmorton Malcontent

February 20th, 2013
2:05 pm

Buck up. We preservered and got rid of both Dorseys, Mayor Campbell, and Eldrin Bell, and we’ll eventually clear out the DCSS Central Office, too. It’s just part of life in the big city USA. Grab the tar and the feathers, heat up the pitchforks, and clear the rail out of town, cause here comes another batch of losers on their way out. Then roll up your sleeves and get ready to do it again.

Shar

February 20th, 2013
2:06 pm

When (not if) SACS pulls accreditation from DCSS action we’ll see next steps. Either the Board will resign (highly unlikely), the Governor remove them or a concentrated movement to split the district will most likely occur. The latter option will be the most damaging for the students in the system, but if the governance issues are not resolved it becomes much more likely to happen.

Atlanta Media Guy

February 20th, 2013
2:14 pm

Chamblee Dad, I am a Brookhaven resident, and my kids are in the resident program at the Chamblee schools. My focus is now at the school level. I trusted Clew and Moseley too, until their little fraud of a demographers report said there would be no growth in our area. Well they closed Nancy Creek to make room for Kittredge, not a bad thing, but Kittredge moved and Nancy Creek closed due to dishonesty, and that is what bugs me about DCSS!

Remember it was the parents at Nancy Creek that discovered a former BOE Chairs son hiding out in the school and for 6 months did not report to his new job, after being given a $15k raise. His boss back then, Ramona -where in the world is that 49 million- Tyson. The son still works for the system today. Clew and Moseley insisted back then there was no nepotism, REALLY! As long as Tyson is around do not expect anything to change, why should it….. The same folks with the same results for 10 years. WE STILL NEED A PALACE CLEANSING AND SOON!

Bernie

February 20th, 2013
2:27 pm

Houston, We have a PROBLEM!

Principal Skinner

February 20th, 2013
2:30 pm

I like to imagine the Judge channeling the Soup Nazi……………..No Suit for You!

Private Citizen

February 20th, 2013
2:30 pm

Just Sayin.....

February 20th, 2013
2:33 pm

We can all see how this ends. Clayton County is the poster child, and Dekalb has decided that the Clayton County model is the one that they will follow.

Dekalb may (yet) lose accreditation, and the member of the school board will blame every other member besides themselves. And you know what? Dekalb county parents will go in droves to the polls to vote these same idiots back into office.

At this point, Dekalb deserves the school system that they have. The deserve to lose accreditation. They deserve it even more than Clayton deserved it because they already have a model as to what happens ( home values plummet, families have to move out, etc, etc.).

Chamblee Dad

February 20th, 2013
2:34 pm

@ AMG I’ve seen you on here & DSW for a long time too. Our school has a core of super-involved – but not meddling (well most), but advocating when we’ve felt we had a moral obligation to do so. So while we have not resigned to losing our fight for our children (we refuse to give up), the consensus among us is to focus on our schools. I’d rather have my kids see me in school than on the news.

So tomorrow while the State hearing starts I’ll be in my Pre-K daughter’s class reading a book as part of our “Dads on Duty” day. And the look on her face when I step in the door with that book, THAT is what I’m working for, and the nod of appreciation I get from her teacher will let me know that I’m in the right place.

Dekalbite

February 20th, 2013
2:39 pm

“Remember it was the parents at Nancy Creek that discovered a former BOE Chairs son hiding out in the school and for 6 months did not report to his new job, after being given a $15k raise”

Still there. Made $67,000 in salary and benefits last year.

Maude

February 20th, 2013
2:51 pm

It hurts my heart to think of the children that have to suffer because of this. Schools are underfunded and now the hundreds of thousands of dollars that will be spent on this law suit. Shame on the voters of DeKalb county!!

Private Citizen

February 20th, 2013
2:55 pm

Clayton County was not ever the top school district in Georgia. Clayton County is geographically located in the hinterlands with the hillbillies and hillbetties of Riverdale. There is no comparison in the two districts and regions. None. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Not a bit.

Btc

February 20th, 2013
3:10 pm

Has anybody heard HB 263 requiring teachers to pay the entire amount for health insurance? Maureen, is this true? What’s next, folks?

Dekalbite

February 20th, 2013
3:25 pm

The state Attorney General Sam Olens who Maureen said would represent the state appears to be a very good attorney. Although I’m not a fan of some of his actions (mainly his involvement and stance against universal health care), Mr. Olens would be a formidable opponent against any legal action the school board begins against the state. I can’t begin to imagine what such a protracted legal fight will do to our finances and reputation. Indeed, this entire school board should resign.

marm

February 20th, 2013
3:27 pm

Until the parents in the southern portion of the county realize that losing accreditation means that the HS diplomas their children are working to toward my not be worth the paper they are printed on when the apply to colleges, things will not change. Stop voting for and supporting these people just because they attend your church are have the same complexion as you do. They ultimately don’t care a whit for your children.

Atlanta Media Guy

February 20th, 2013
3:30 pm

Chamblee Dad, You are one of the many reasons we love this area of DeKalb. Most are involved, even some who have their kids in private schools. It will be the tenacity of the stakeholders to see this through and I pray it perseveres.

It boggles the mind the things we have seen since Clew took over DCSS and even more so since his indictment. Like Maureen says it is just the beginning…but it has been one heckuva long Foreword to DCSS sad fall into the ditch.

Prof

February 20th, 2013
3:38 pm

@ Private Citizen. Maybe you weren’t around here about 5-6 years ago or so (more?) when Clayton County went through the experience of losing its SACS accreditation because of its school board’s actions…and then the experience of trying to re-elect new school board members, and get back its accreditation. And there used to be a time when Clayton County too had respected schools, but the loss of SACS accreditation (among other things) damaged them a great deal. I think that’s all fresh in the memories of many blogging here; it is in mine.

Google this if you don’t remember it. Or go to Maureen’s “Archives” under “Clayton County” for I’m sure she ran many blogs on it. As Satchell Paige said, “Sometimes it’s just deja vu all over again.”

Chamblee Dad

February 20th, 2013
4:09 pm

Amazing thing about DCSS in the Get Schooled Blog – There is so much crazy news coming out everyday, that if you are commenting on what seems to be the latest post by Maureen, you better hit refresh on her blog first, and on the main AJC page too, or you might find Ty has posted a new article (or at least updated the current one) and suddenly you are at the end of “old news” and the newest post is already building a brand-new long thread. What other blog topic can top that? not even college football in the fall.

Dekalbite

February 20th, 2013
4:10 pm

That may be why Nancy Jester is looking into using an alternate accreditation (apparently there is one) that will accredit individual schools. For example, if Dunwoody High School is accreditation by that agency, then it would not be affected by the rest of the county. DeKalb has all of its accreditation under SACS as one system, but I think it made that decision quite some time ago. I remember to when it used to be school by school. Nancy is not BOE member, but I sometimes read her blog. If that happens for Dunwoody HS, the other high schools would soon follow.

SACS needs some competition. They bear a lot of the responsibility for this mess. They kept approving DeKalb no matter how dysfunctional the administration was for students (the friends and family has been there for many years as well as board infighting). More and more focus through the news media and social media and parents who were appalled at the cuts to the classroom to preserve non teaching jobs kept pressuring SACS until their credibility was threatened. Only when SACS’s credibility was threatened did they move against the dysfunction for students in DeKalb.

SACS has been similar to Moody’s and Stanford and Poor as those credit agencies kept saying all those Wall Street sub prime mortgages were AAA rated while they collected fees from the organizations they rated. The present accreditation system is not working and is proving problematic for students.

Dekalbite@Prof

February 20th, 2013
4:29 pm

DeKalb is very different from Clayton. Clayton has no where near the financial clout of DeKalb. The fallout to the state in terms of lower tax revenues is so much greater in DeKalb than in Clayton. Clayton also had no where near the pockets of excellence in student achievement that DeKalb does. DeKalb has many schools in affluent neighborhoods that have almost all of their students scoring above grade levels in reading and math. DeKalb is really a “Tale of Two School Systems”. Look at the academic scores of Vanderlyn, Austin, Oak Grove, Fernbank, Marbut, etc. and you will see they are ALWAYS at the top of the state. This is in sharp contrast to DeKalb’s low income schools where Title 1 resources should go to help close the achievement gap but never seem to make it to the classrooms. Close in DeKalb has Emory and CDC, close proximity to all of downtown, Buckhead and midtown’s entertainment and cultural centers, and best of all NO real traffic even during rush hour. Dunwoody has the entire Perimeter Mall area with a vast complex of office buildings, restaurants and nightlife right next to two behemoth hospital/medical complexes. Georgia has much more to lose financially if DeKalb loses value. These are some of the differences in the loss of accreditation for DeKalb versus Clayton.