What are Nathan Deal’s options with DeKalb school board? Are parents now more fixed on exit strategies than reform ones?

Gov. Nathan Deal has pushed back his news conference on the DeKalb school board mess to 2:30 today, suggesting that he’s seeking legal guidance on his options in this quagmire.

To recap: On Thursday, a unanimous state Board of Education, under an untested 2010 law, voted to recommend the suspension of six veteran DeKalb school board members. On Friday, a federal judge, while not stopping Deal from suspending the six, prohibited him from replacing them, pending a hearing later this week on the validity of the law.

That put Deal in a bind as ousting the members without replacing them creates a worse-case scenario for DeKalb, no closure, no quorum and no chance that new school chief Michael Thurmond can move quickly on whatever plans he has for the district. (And we have yet to see any real plans.)

Protracting this melodrama will only fuel the increasing push by Lakeside to form its own city and Dunwoody to form its own school system. In the end, DeKalb County could be so fragmented as to be unrecognizable. There has been a surge in notices of community meetings and town halls around issues of winning independence from either the county or the school district.

Such discord makes a unified school vision impossible and hampers any real change if parents are more focused on creating an exit strategy rather than a reform one.

And, in some breaking news, the AJC’s Greg Bluestein just reported:

Gov. Nathan Deal has not yet made a decision on whether to suspend members of the DeKalb County school board, lawmakers who were briefed by the governor said after emerging from an hourlong meeting Monday.

Members of the DeKalb delegation said the governor was weighing several options, including a compromise that would that would avoid a court battle. Under that plan, the governor’s office would closely monitor the school board’s progress if the legal challenges were abandoned. “We don’t know what he’s going to do,” said state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta.

Here are some possible scenarios for Deal, none of which help DeKalb but do give the governor political points for at least trying.

•If Deal suspends the six members and can’t replace them, he essentially cripples the DeKalb Board of Education which, with only three legitimate board members, would lack the power to do anything.

•To create a quorum, Deal could choose to suspend only four of the six, with the likely two remaining Nancy Jester and Pam Speaks. Then, DeKalb would have a five-member board, which would provide a quorum.

However, Deal would certainly provide even stronger legal ammunition for overturning the law since picking and choosing members to oust supports allegations that the law is arbitrary and capricious. In addition, Deal would then be suspending only African-American board members, which would lay open the racial tensions that this whole process is revealing.

Nobody is clear what the law means when it says the governor has to suspend all  “eligible” members. We saw that last week when the state reversed its January position that the governor had to oust all of the DeKalb board members or none of them.

That “all or nothing” explanation was given at the January hearing in response to protests by the three newly elected DeKalb board members that they weren’t even on the board when the district was put on accreditation probation. A month later, the state reversed itself and agreed with the trio, saying Thursday at the state board hearing  that the newly elected DeKalb board members were exempted and would retain their seats.

•If Deal doesn’t suspend — which seems highly unlikely to me — he will come under criticism and undermine the state board’s credibility.

Any other feasible scenarios out there today?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

123 comments Add your comment

Astropig

February 25th, 2013
11:19 am

Deal needs to ignore the politics and “optics” of the situation and do whats best for the kids- Get these people far,far away from the power to do any more damage. And if they sue,so be it.He has the resources of the state of Georgia behind him. These selfish creeps need to be removed forthwith.

Parents for DeKalb Schools

February 25th, 2013
11:21 am

The BOE members in question should resign. This would allow for a special election giving the voters a voice and end the legal quagmire. Most importantly, the 100k children of DeKalb are put first for a change. Win-Win-Win

Find us on Facebook & Twitter: http://ParentsForDeKalbSchools.com

catlady

February 25th, 2013
11:23 am

Unfortunately I think the selfish creeps have the resources, too–taxpayer money to fund their perfidy

Dunwoody Mom

February 25th, 2013
11:24 am

Governor Deal: Forget the BOE, forget the DeKalb Delegation, – all of the adult voices and please keep you eyes, and subsequently your decison, on the true victims here – the school children of DCSS. If this BOE stays, they (students) will be the ones that suffer.

catlady

February 25th, 2013
11:25 am

What votes does the board have upcoming, other than contracts? Can’t their guy, Michael, keep on bringing sanity and fixing the problems of the school system without the board until such time as the feds are happy?

Hamilton

February 25th, 2013
11:27 am

The answer to the second question is yes. For the first, suspension would stop the Board members from looting the DCSD bank account to pay their own legal fees. Maybe they can get King Roy to represent them pro-bono.

10:10 am

February 25th, 2013
11:28 am

If Michael Thurmond is listening to DeKalb’s parents and their disgust with the public school system—he’ll use the temporary power a diminished board gives him and enact REAL reforms.

Start, Mr. Thurmond, by quickly expanding the number of charter schools and giving parents more choices!

Pardon My Blog

February 25th, 2013
11:31 am

Fox 5 spoke with Michael Thurmond this morning as he was going in to meet with the Governor. My guess he was going in to plea the case for his buddies or to try to cut a deal. He is spending so much time on this, I question why he is not doing the job he was hired to do, or is he?

There is no easy solution to this. We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Parents in our area are already applying to private schools because of this whole fiasco and for sale signs are appearing in yards in our community.

Perhaps the best solution, call for a special election to replace the six that should be suspended. Let them finish out this year but do not allow any expenditures to be approved by the Board without oversight from the State level. These six individuals should be done and not allowed to run for this position again as the taxpayers have said “You’re Fired!”

WilieJo

February 25th, 2013
11:39 am

Maureen is right. Parents are looking at the dysfunction that is Dekalb County and looking for an exit strategy. Either the county starts admitting and fixing its problems or the parents and taxpayers will start seeking refuge from the consequences. As of this morning, more and more parents and tax payers are starting to believe there is no solution to the problems that beset the county. They are evaluating their options, options that range from private school to state sponsored charter to city school systems to relocation. Every delaying step, every racial innuendo, every maneuver that puts politicians ahead of the children only makes the ultimate outcome more destructive to the long term future of DeKalb County.

bu2

February 25th, 2013
11:44 am

I don’t see anything in the law that gives a deadline to the governor to make his decision. The deadlines are for the SBOE.

So he could simply say he would closely monitor the situation between now and the May SACs review. Have the board send him monthly progress reports on each of the SACS recommendations.

Pamela

February 25th, 2013
11:45 am

As long as things are done fair, I don’t have a problem with it. If all of the people that were involved in DeKalb County Schools being on probation are African-American then be it. I could care less. I am African-American and right is right..wrong is wrong!

bu2

February 25th, 2013
11:45 am

Don’t put Dekalb in suspense. Let Sumter County pay for the court fight. Its the same issue.

mountain man

February 25th, 2013
11:49 am

Deal needs to suspend the six, then maybe the judges looking at the case would have more incentive to getting it hurried through the process. Go Dunwoody! I would like to see them set up their own school system.

By the way, did I just read that the Dekalb Board of Ed decided to pay back the deficit over four years? Is that legal? I would think they would need to incorporate it all into this year’s budget in order to stay within the law. Prosecute them!

mountain man

February 25th, 2013
11:51 am

“Parents are looking at the dysfunction that is Dekalb County and looking for an exit strategy.”

Yes, this Board is killing Dekalb County, and Walker is leading the murder (Works for God – sheesh). Parents, flee Dekalb or start your own Charters.

Rick

February 25th, 2013
11:52 am

Although not members of the Board when placed on probation, the new trio was mentioned negatively in the SACS report

Private Citizen

February 25th, 2013
12:00 pm

What the DeKalb board does not realise is that the state is playing nice and trying to give them an exit strategy. Since this is not working, it may be time to bring in the real investigators and allow them to do their work. I suggest this is the best course of action. They can stop when they reach 1000 infractions, of these they can sort which are the most serious and then put the individuals in court and follow-through with the consequences.

bu2

February 25th, 2013
12:00 pm

That mention in the SACS report was like the textbook thing. On that they didn’t even talk to the CFO. In the SACS report-HORRORS! They were visiting schools! SACS didn’t talk to the superintendent or the new board members about it. The one who commented on it said they did it in coordination with the superintendent.

Mr. Georgia

February 25th, 2013
12:02 pm

This BS is unconstitutional to say the least and obviously racially motivated!! WE HAD AN ELECTION PEOPLE!!! If you all want to replace them so bad wait until the next election and run for the darn seat yourself. This time and energy should be used to explore the option of finding a new and better accreditation agency, SACS is on a power trip that is fueled by “unnamed sources” reporting these allegations. Is there evidence that the School Board stole money or mismanaged funds, NO! People don’t like the way the Board has responded to these critics from North Dekalb, the white moms with all the issues, who need to sit down and shut up and respect the authority of the board!! Their sensative feelings were hurt because some reminded them of who is in charge at a meeting or refused to acknowledge their stupid opinions and allegations in a meeting!! If you are that upset and can not get the level of satisfaction you think you deserve you can always enroll your kid in a private school or better yet create your own charter school!! Removing these people will not solve the issue!! The critics will never be satisfied and are merely building a case for them to attempt to create their own towns and districts!!! Stevie Wonder could see that!!

Bruce Kendall

February 25th, 2013
12:04 pm

Private Citizen

February 25th, 2013
12:13 pm

I would love to see an Asian business person and a Latino stone mason as appointed members of a starter-board. Then, after a year or two, these could run for elected office to continue their seats in a general election.

Private Citizen

February 25th, 2013
12:16 pm

“Asian” includes Indian from India. Or include Burundi, or Farsi, or some other type of international culture and business influence which should rightfully be included in representing DeKalb County.

Atlanta Media Guy

February 25th, 2013
12:20 pm

Gee Mr. Georgia… You work for God too… Maybe you are the son of the former BOE chair, who does not show for work and gets over $65k in salary alone. Volunteers have to come behind him and undo and work this guy actually does. How about the 49 million that Tyson went over budget, they are so glad to have her at Thurmond’s side. Why! She is at fault for our financial woes. Tyson was former CFO Turks boss! Yet we are making this about white moms in the north…riiiiight! Cut the F&F snake at the head right now and return the money to the teachers and their TSA!

LOGIC

February 25th, 2013
12:20 pm

@Mr. GA

The election and the structure of the BOE does not represent the people if you look at the Power of that Vote.

This elected officials have FAILED as a COLLECTIVE BODY to fulfill their duties representing ALL OF DEKALB as they were sworn in to do. As a result, our children and our communities are suffering. They all need to be impeached.

IF you don’t want that, KEEP YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND GIVE ME MY OWN SCHOOL DISTRICT!

All of you who are screaming constitutionality, need to look long and hard at the purpose of representation – protect the people. They are only protecting their own hides with a small number of votes and making the rest of the district pay for it.

The fact that we are allowing this dysfunction shows how truly broken local government is and how ignorant the general population is.

@Maureen -for the record, Dr. Speaks is African American.

big picture

February 25th, 2013
12:23 pm

Being serious here. We are looking for an exit. Any ideas for a good realtor?

paulo977

February 25th, 2013
12:23 pm

Mr Georgia …” WE HAD AN ELECTION PEOPLE!!! If you all want to replace them so bad wait until the next election and run for the darn seat yourself”
_______________________________________________________
Your post tells it like it is….You can’t change people’s hearts and prejudices simply by passing an Act , the change may take years and years and !!!

Concerned for children

February 25th, 2013
12:26 pm

The untamed beast in all of this is SACS, which put the district on probation and threaten to take away the children’s accreditation, that’s who it belongs too. The children pay the price for the actions of adults, based on governance and leadership, which is an issue in most political bodies, look no further than the US Congress. The governor should appoint a bi-partisan committee to oversee the improvements that need to me meet. At the same time, the general assembly need to pass laws addressing this unchecked power that has been bestowed upon SACS. As Deal stated last week, the DCSS was put on probation the academic failures, which I could agree with, rather for governance and leadership, only. I challenge every that follows this blog to go to SACS website and read about what they should be doing as it relates to accreditation and governance and leadership is only one of five standards listed. The other four are never addressed, because it would require some heavy lifting by SACS.

Private Citizen

February 25th, 2013
12:26 pm

Some of these Asian business owners who are always recording and ciphering pennies and dollars on the records sheets of their stores would sure have a different outlook on things. The local skinny yong guy worker at the gas station is going to local tech college. “What are you studying?” “Mathematics / business accounting.” Duh! What a surprise (not). They build their wealth one dime and column at a time. It’s like when Ross Perot was lecturing congress about pennies.

Ross Perot quotes: http://www.qotd.org/search/search.html?aid=6020

Dunwoody Mom

February 25th, 2013
12:27 pm

The students of DCSS don’t have years and years to wait for change. If we wait years and years, there won’t be a school system left…..

mountain man

February 25th, 2013
12:38 pm

Mr Georgia …” WE HAD AN ELECTION PEOPLE!!!

Good. You live with the results then. But don’t expect the good parents to stay in the corrupt school system. Hello, Clayton County II.

skipper

February 25th, 2013
12:47 pm

If folks are stupid (yes stupid) enough to elect dummies and incpmpetents to the board in order to call it “keepin’ it real”, and then are stuck with the results, somebody needs to step in. This board is the laughing stock of the country. Their ignorance in many cases (not all, but many) is surpassed only by their arrogance. Contrary to the banter, it is not all about race. If someone who happens to be black is deemd incompetent, that DOES NOT IMPLY inequality. or prejudice. A green or purple person could see this thing is a cluster!

Private Citizen

February 25th, 2013
12:48 pm

Paulo, We enjoy all of these nice things (what’s left of them) such as water systems and interstate highway systems, yet we were not around to see when the republic-types bloodied the Indians and set up the house. It is not a simple thing. this hybrid mix and calling it “democracy.”

Dr. John Trotter

February 25th, 2013
12:49 pm

I don’t think that the Governor Deal or Mark Elgart want a lawsuit. It is amazing what can be revealed in discovery. Depositions have a cleansing power about them. Wasn’t it in the deposition of President Bill Clinton in the Whitewater discovery that the situation with the Arkansas lady came out (sorry, but I can’t remember her name right off the top of my head)? He denied it. This was the basis of the impeachment later on. This is also why his legal license was yanked by the Arkansas Bar.

SACS hides its so-called “investigation” documents, if indeed there are any such documents. SACS receives millions and millions of tax dollars (wasn’t last year’s SACS budget well over $22,000,000?). Yet, SACS wants to conducts its business in darkness. The darkness doesn’t like the light, right? A lawsuit against SACS would shed much light on what SACS does and would be devastating to SACS. Also, if Judge Story ties the Governor’s hands, this won’t bode well for the Governor, public-relations wise.

The deal? Let the elected school board members remain in office, with the caveat that the Governor and his staff will monitor the situation closely. This lets all save face which, in situations like this, is important.

I also think that the “Church Fathers” in DeKalb have weighed in lately as well. These business magnates and Emory-associated and Center for Disease Control-associated people of influence have probably made the case that stripping the DeKalb citizens of their right to elect their school board members will not enure to any direct benefit on what goes on in the classrooms, but contrariwise, it will have devastating and deleterious effects on the public relations for the County as a whole. If Governor Deal is able and does remove The DeKalb Six, then this will be written up in political, economic, educational, and general publications throughout the country, making DeKalb County a hiss and a byword and ensuring that it will become somewhat of a wasteland in the future. See Clayton County.

Inman Parker

February 25th, 2013
12:52 pm

A voucher system in this state would eliminate this kind of stupidity. But then public schools would have to actually do their jobs.

Anchorite

February 25th, 2013
12:53 pm

Maureen, can you provide links or insight into what is going on in Sumter Co.? Is it the same situation or different? Also, are Sumter and Dekalb joining suits or will they continue to be separate?

living in an outdated ed system

February 25th, 2013
12:54 pm

I smell a rat here. Why is the board all of a sudden announcing all of these initiatives to respond to SACS’ concerns? It’s clear they are trying to protect their jobs and I think the announcement this morning will backfire on them all.

I must say – @Pardonmyblog has a very interesting solution, but I don’t think anyone at present has the right to call a special election, and I don’t think that resolves the governance issue that threatens accreditation.

The legal maneuvering makes this situation completely unpredictable. I have no idea what will happen, but this is embarrassing for our state, and for the children of Dekalb.

FM Fats

February 25th, 2013
12:55 pm

In order to keep a quorum in place, Deal could give each of the six 3/5ths of a vote.

bootney farnsworth

February 25th, 2013
12:59 pm

freeze all state monies coming into DeKalb. let DeKalb voters decide if they can survive on what they along bring in.

this should be within Deals powers, does not violate anyone’s free speech, and puts the whole responsibility directly in the hands of DeKalb voters.

if and when DCSS shows a sane board and presents a business plan, Deal can reopen the funds

bootney farnsworth

February 25th, 2013
1:02 pm

as to parents – run! get the hell out, and fast.

Digger

February 25th, 2013
1:03 pm

It was Monica Blewclinsky, Doctor.

LOGIC

February 25th, 2013
1:06 pm

Easy solution – change the charter of DCSD and make it unpaid and persecute ethics breaches with an Ethics Council like APS has instated. Watch these leeches run for the hills.

I cannot believe how many people would allow the continued abuse of DeKalb’s children and a (formerly) great metro area. I hope that Deal suspends them all without pay, doesn’t appoint another Board until the 2014 election and makes it “at large.”

If he can’t do this, time to split DeKalb, which only hurts the children who can’t afford other options. If that happens, it is on the conscience of the folks here screaming the “unconstitutionality” of unseating destructive and inept individuals who are completely and utterly incapable of executing the responsibilities of their election position.

[...] Go to this article [...]

Private Citizen

February 25th, 2013
1:08 pm

FM, Had to pull the Dr. Wagner example of compromise reference, didn’t cha.

FM Fats

February 25th, 2013
1:09 pm

No, Digger. In Arkansas it was Paula Jones.

Truth in Moderation

February 25th, 2013
1:12 pm

“Parents in our area are already applying to private schools because of this whole fiasco and for sale signs are appearing in yards in our community.”

You forgot your BEST option, HOME SCHOOLING! It’s cheaper AND THE RIGHT THING TO DO FOR YOUR CHILD! You can utilize HOME SCHOOL DISCOUNT PRICES at Fernbank and the Natural History Museum. WE DO! Plan to take your kids on a home school field trip to LULLWATER PARK. We are. Tap into the DeKalb Home School network and find home school “schools” as well as social groups. YOU WON’T REGRET YOUR CHOICE! You will wonder why you WAITED SO LONG!

In the mean time, the same corruptocrats ARE TRYING TO MESS WITH THE HOME SCHOOL LAW! This is nothing but a DANGEROUS power play! If DeKalbites won’t fight for home schoolers NOW, YOU WILL NOW HAVE ONE LESS VIABLE OPTION FOR YOUR PRESENT TROUBLES!

HOME SCHOOL LEGISLATIVE ACTION ALERT

http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20132014/130258.pdf

Say NO to ANY changes in the home school law Section 23
lines 606-616 and 629-655

The current law is Constitutional and fulfills the Georgia Compulsory Education law.
Any changes would mount a Constitutional challenge.

(remove spaces for links)
Bill sponsors:
Rep. Brooks Coleman House Education Committee
ht tp://vote smart.org/candidate/biography/7865/brooks-coleman-jr Phone: 404-656-9210

Terry England
ht tp://votes mart.org/candidate/31952/terry-england Phone: 404-463-2247 Phone: 770-867-8096 (Home)
Phone: 770-867-1601 (Office)

Tom Dickson
ht tp://votesmart.org/candidate/31703/tom-dickson
Phone: 404-463-2247
Phone: 706-694-3908

Margaret Kaiser
ht tp://votesmart.org/candidate/66958/margaret-kaiser
Phone: 404-656-0265
Phone: 404-223-6269 (Home)

Mike Dudgeon
ht tp://votesmart.org/candidate/122760/mike-dudgeon
Phone: 404-656-0298
Phone: 770-490-7983 (Cell)

ACTION:
Call all bill sponsors. They have already retreated back into committee to “rethink” home school law changes as of 2/22.
Tell them you will accept NO CHANGE to the home school law (except to change the 180 days of attendance to the least days currently required for public schools, 165 days.) The current law is Constitutional and fulfills the Georgia Compulsory Education law.
Any changes would mount a Constitutional challenge.

Call your Georgia Representative and tell them not to support any legislation that would modify the current home school law.
ht tp://votesmart.org/officials/GA/L/georgia-state-legislative

bootney farnsworth

February 25th, 2013
1:13 pm

one thing I am enjoying about this – ole Nate finally has to actually make a hard decision he can’t dodge or pass off to somebody else. and it’s a classic Sophie’s choice.

no matter what he does, since he refuses to actually LEAD, he’s screwed.

gotta love it

Digger

February 25th, 2013
1:13 pm

Sorry, I get them all confused.

bootney farnsworth

February 25th, 2013
1:15 pm

I still don’t understand why the fed isn’t RICOing the hell out of DCSS.

bootney farnsworth

February 25th, 2013
1:16 pm

@ Dr. John

what would be involved in decommissioning DCSS?

Private Citizen

February 25th, 2013
1:19 pm

I went for a scenic drive and drove past McNair High School DeKalb County Schools. The building is decorated with cement spheres on top of the building. Some of them are broken off / missing. See those round ball-things on top of the building? http://oldwww.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~mcnairhs/McNairNew.jpg Some of them are broken off / gone on the left side of the building. Either that or the building design is lopsided, and I kind of doubt that.

Writing on the Wall

February 25th, 2013
1:19 pm

I am starting to think that we – as parents – should sue to expell and cancel the contract of all these elected school board members that clearly are not doing their job as they ought to.
That would be an excellent precedent to set for accountability in leadership.
By the way, no one is going to buy property with a dysfunctional school system.
Think DeKalb survival people.
And yes, my kids have been attending private school this past year.