Archive for the ‘dekalb’ Category

Here are the legal arguments for why govenor can’t oust DeKalb school board. Are you swayed?

I attended the three-hour federal court hearing Friday in which the attorney for the DeKalb school board challenged the constitutionality of the state law that Gov. Deal used to suspend six school board members this week.

DeKalb County schools were placed on probation by the accreditation agency SACS in December. In response to that probation and because of cited problems with how the school board operates,  Gov. Nathan Deal moved to suspend six of the nine members, as the State Board of Education had recommended after a grueling 14-hour hearing on  Feb.  21. He relied on a law that went into effect in the spring of 2011.

The DeKalb board filed suit to block the removals, arguing that the law is illegal and full of inconsistencies. Former DA Bob Wilson contended that the law was contradictory, flawed and unfair to those snagged by it. “You have a sense people are flying by the seat of their pants to figure this out,” said Wilson.

The question is whether those flaws are …

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DeKalb in federal court today but no decision from judge

Update at 7 p.m. : The  federal court hearing lasted just under three hours. The judge did not rule yet. He wants to consider all the arguments. I will write up the hearing later. But it was much of the same stuff said at the state hearing.

Despite last-ditch efforts to avoid a court battle, the DeKalb school board drama will move to a federal courtroom this afternoon.

School board member Eugene Walker says his reputation is at stake and he intends to wage battle in court.

It remains unclear whether the DeKalb school board’s vote to hire former DeKalb DA Bob Wilson essentially amounts to a blank check for legal fees;  I am trying to find out whether the taxpayer funding for this lawsuit has any limit or does it flow to the bitter end.

Concern over the use of taxpayer funds to finance this legal battle has led State Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, to propose  a law that would prevent suspended school board members from using taxpayer dollars to mount a protracted legal effort …

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Cheryl Atkinson takes new post after DeKalb: Success for at least one

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson

Given her long affinity for the program, it is not surprising to read the former DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has gone to work for Success For All.

Several of you are alleging that taking a job with a program she brought to DeKalb Schools represents a conflict of interest. I am not sure if that is true, but there’s no doubt that her endorsement of Success for All and her use of it in her districts helped her get the job. After all, Success for All wouldn’t hire someone who didn’t believe in its program and its approach.

Please keep in mind that members of our Legislature often go to work for industries that they regulated while they held public office. Or they go to work for lobbying firms that lobby the General Assembly to get laws passed. And some prominent Georgia education leaders have gone to education think tanks in Washington, including our former state school chief.

According to the AJC:

The former DeKalb County school superintendent …

Continue reading Cheryl Atkinson takes new post after DeKalb: Success for at least one »

Do you want to serve on the new DeKalb school board? Here’s how to try.

From the governor’s office:

The nominating panel that Gov. Nathan Deal assembled will begin immediately accepting applications for candidates to fill the seats of suspended members of the DeKalb County school board.

Applicants should email the following information to the search team:

1. Legal name, contact information and home address

2. District seat for which one is applying

3. Resume, CV and/or brief biography

4. Statement of interest

The panel will accept applications until March 6 at 5 p.m.

I asked the governor’s spokesman if the applicants must live in the specific school board district for which they are applying. His answer: “Yes, the law says that replacement board members must be otherwise qualified to serve, which means, in part, that they must live in the district.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

Continue reading Do you want to serve on the new DeKalb school board? Here’s how to try. »

Suspended DeKalb school board member Eugene Walker: ‘I will not quit or step aside.’

Suspended DeKalb school board member Eugene Walker says his removal by Gov. Deal violates the constitution.

Suspended DeKalb school board member Eugene Walker says his removal by Gov. Deal violates the constitution.

In a pro/con today, suspended DeKalb Board of Education member Eugene Walker explains why the governor was wrong to suspend him and five other board members Monday. Taking the other side is state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta. Please read her piece here.

Here is Dr. Walker’s piece. Please focus on his arguments, which are the same ones that the lawyer for the deposed school board will put forth in court later this week. It is important to understand that under challenge is not just the removal of the DeKalb board, but the constitutionality of the state law that permits the governor to step in and yank school board members.

By Dr. Eugene Walker

The governor is wrong in his decision to suspend members of the DeKalb County Board of Education.

The DeKalb School District has been placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a …

Continue reading Suspended DeKalb school board member Eugene Walker: ‘I will not quit or step aside.’ »

House Minority Leader: Gov. Deal was right to suspend DeKalb board members for sake of children.

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams on why she supported Gov. Deal in his removal of DeKalb school board members.

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams on why she supported Gov. Deal in his removal of DeKalb school board members.

In a pro/con today, House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, explains why she stood behind Gov. Nathan Deal Monday as he suspended six members of the DeKalb Board of Education. Taking the opposite position is suspended DeKalb Board of Education member Eugene Walker  Please read his piece as well.

Here is Rep. Abrams’ view.

By Stacey Abrams

On Monday, Gov.  Nathan Deal suspended six members of the DeKalb County School Board, in accordance with the unanimous recommendation of the State School Board. I stood with Governor Deal and a number of colleagues in the General Assembly, supporting his action.

In 2010, I also supported SB 84, which provided the mechanism for suspension and removal that Gov. Deal used. Ceding the authority to suspend elected officials is a grave and dramatic step, one that should not be taken lightly. However, when the consequences of …

Continue reading House Minority Leader: Gov. Deal was right to suspend DeKalb board members for sake of children. »

Three legal DeKalb school board members: Our hands are tied until the court unties them

The legally recognized and unchallenged DeKalb Board of Education members Melvin Johnson, Jim McMahan and Marshall Orson issued this statement on the state of affairs in the district:

As elected representatives on the DeKalb Board of Education, we find ourselves in a unique and confusing situation. We are the three members of the Board of Education not subject to the State Board of Education’s review process because we joined the DeKalb Board in January 2013, and the State Board’s action concerned the nine Board members who held office prior to January 2013.

We, along with Superintendent Michael Thurmond, are committed to restoring full accreditation and focusing our efforts on the academic achievement of DeKalb’s 99,000 students and the professional well-being of the people who teach and serve those students, and we pledge to restore making outcomes for children the priority of the DeKalb County School District.

We realize there is a great deal of frustration with the …

Continue reading Three legal DeKalb school board members: Our hands are tied until the court unties them »

They’re out. Governor removes all six DeKalb school board members. Bring in the lawyers.

Setting the stage for a court battle, Gov. Nathan Deal just announced at a press conference that he is removing all six veteran DeKalb school board members.

He has created a nominating committee to find replacements. The committee includes former DeKalb Schools administrator Garry McGiboney, who is now with the state Department of Education, state board member Kenneth Mason, former state board member Jim Bostic, Sadie Dennard, education chair, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, and Alicia Phillip, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

Former state and DeKalb school board member Brad Bryant will be liaison between the district and the governor’s office. (Interesting that both McGiboney and Bryant were mentioned to me as possible superintendent candidates before Michael Thurmond was hired two weeks ago.)

Deal was apparently not moved by a last-minute appeal from Thurmond who testified last week at the state Board of Education hearing that he could work with this …

Continue reading They’re out. Governor removes all six DeKalb school board members. Bring in the lawyers. »

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 …

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Breaking news: With new federal ruling, DeKalb school leadership is now in legal limbo for time being

As we all expected, the DeKalb school board situation is getting messier. A  federal judge is now saying that Gov. Deal can remove the six board members, but cannot replace them for the present.

Yikes.

It seems unlikely all the school members recommended for removal are going to drop their legal challenge to the state law allowing the governor to oust them over accreditation concerns.

If the DeKalb legal challenge follows the pace of a similar one filed by school board members in Sumter County, this could take months to resolve. Six Sumter school board members filed in December to halt state removal, but a court hearing has yet to be scheduled and they retain their seats.

DeKalb school board member Eugine Walker made it clear to the state Board of Education at its 14-hour hearing Thursday that he was not going to surrender his constitutional rights to seek redress in the courts if he was suspended from his elected post.

The AJC’s Ty Tagami reports that Walker said Sunday, ““I …

Continue reading Breaking news: With new federal ruling, DeKalb school leadership is now in legal limbo for time being »