State officials have an opportunity this week not to overreach, and to keep the Atlanta Public Schools board intact.
The state Board of Education will hold a “courtroom-style one-day hearing” Tuesday, as my AJC colleagues described it, to decide whether to recommend that Gov. Nathan Deal remove the city’s school board members from office. The Legislature set up this procedure earlier this year as a safeguard in case the APS board appeared unable to keep from losing the system’s accreditation.
The board has made some progress by solving its internal bickering about its leadership, although the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has warned that APS may have trouble rising out of its current probation because of the scale of the cheating scandal as reported by state investigators.
That’s as it should be. The cheating scandal was always far worse than petty politics among elected politicians, and it was never clear to me that the governor’s removing and replacing the board should be considered less of a political action.
Even if the board members were still fighting among themselves, however, removing them from office would be a step too far. The power of voters to elect their representatives — even if they act like knuckleheads sometimes — should not be violated. If the voters decide their representatives are too knuckle-headed to continue until the next election, the voters should move to recall them or pressure them to resign.
The eight elected board members (a ninth, one-time chairman Khaatim Sherrer El, recently resigned to take a job in Newark, N.J.) need to see this recovery process through alongside new Superintendent Errol Davis. If they falter, Atlanta parents and voters must hold them accountable.
– By Kyle Wingfield