Among the reactions to the federal court ruling late today that the suspensions of the DeKalb board members can stand and replacements can be named:
DeKalb School Board Chair Melvin Johnson: “I respect the judge’s opinion, and appreciate the judge providing an opinion in a timely manner, because time is of the essence. It is essential that we have a governing board capable of meeting the needs of our administration, students, parents and taxpayers. Equally important is having a board in place to work with the administration on ensuring that the district regains full accreditation. I pledge my full and complete cooperation with the panel of citizens Gov. Nathan Deal has identified to select new board members, and I trust they will work expeditiously to ensure we have a governing board capable of addressing the pressing needs of our school system.”
And from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools:
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement continues its work assisting the DeKalb County School District in maintaining its accreditation. U.S. District Judge Richard Story’s ruling will allow the system to move forward and to put in place a Board of Education with its priorities appropriately placed on student achievement.
The SACS report of December 2012 (outlining deficiencies, findings and recommendations to the DeKalb County School District) remains a guiding document for required improvements in the school system regarding fiscal management, best practices and operating efficiencies as well as minimizing non-standard practices and dysfunctional leadership.
“Our greatest hope is to help the DeKalb County School District find its way back to being one of the highest performing school systems in the southeastern United States,” said Mark A. Elgart, Ed.D., President and CEO of AdvancED, the parent organization of SACS CASI. “That was still possible as late as the 1990s, and it’s still possible today.”
Also, AJC political writer Greg Bluestein has been getting reaction from the Capitol.
The news of the order spread through the statehouse like a ripple wave.
Gov. Nathan Deal said the court’s decisions “allows us to take the next steps toward protecting the futures of DeKalb’s students and maintaining the school system’s accreditation.” The onus, he said, will now shift to the five-member nominating panel.
“Time is of the essence because we cannot have this cloud hang over the county or the state,” he said. “The nominating panel appointed last week will continue to collect applications through Wednesday, and it will get to work quickly on filling the open seats so the board can become a functioning body.”
Deal also appointed Robert Brown, a State Transportation Board member, to serve as another liaison to the DeKalb board. He already appointed attorney Brad Bryant, a former state and DeKalb Board Of Education member and a past state school superintendent, as a liaison.
State Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, said his first reaction to the ruling was simple: “Thank goodness.”
“I am grateful that the students, parents and taxpayers of DeKalb County now have a clear path forward,” said Jacobs, who has introduced legislation that restrict school boards from using taxpayer money to fund similar lawsuits. “I can’t speculate whether fill negotiations are happening but I would think that school board members just lost any negotiating leverage.”
State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, said he’s willing to work with whoever Deal appoints.“Whoever the governor appoints, we’ll work with them to get to the actual work of maintaining accreditation. And Superintendent Thurmond is really well-positioned to protect the interests of students and taxpayers.”
Carter said the focus now turns toward the candidates the five-member nominating panel appoints. “I think everyone needs to have their input and it needs to be an inclusive process,” he said. “And whoever it is, we’ve got to work with them.”
State Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain, a critic of the governor’s move, said he was disappointed in the court’s ruling. “I’m concerned about the usurping of the will of the voters,” said Mitchell, who expects Walker to file an appeal. “I wish I had confidence this will end the legal matter, but this system is still stuck in legal limbo. I’d love the issue to be resolved, but it’s not.”
State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia, another opponent of Deal’s decision, said the judge’s ruling doesn’t change her opinion that the governor was overreaching. “My whole premise was that even if it was constitutional, it doesn’t make it right,” said Kendrick. “There are a lot of things that might be constitutional, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in the best interest of the citizens.”