The Legislature may be on the verge of giving Gov. Nathan Deal the power to remove members of the Atlanta Board of Education should the school system lose its accreditation this summer.
Not exactly what Mayor Kasim Reed was looking for – but something like it.
A bipartisan amendment, sponsored by Majority Whip Ed Lindsey and Democrat Kathy Ashe, both of Atlanta, was attached Tuesday to SB 79 by the House Education Committee.
Early this year, when the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the Atlanta school system on probation because of a CRCT cheating scandal and board infighting, Deal discovered that current board members – in the Atlanta system and elsewhere – had been grandfathered in by 2010 legislation allowing the governor to take over local school systems.
This month, Reed said he had approached members of the Legislature about giving the mayor of Atlanta the power to replace school board members – but Republicans balked, saying such a move would require a constitutional amendment.
This afternoon, Ashe said her amendment – removing protection for school board members elected prior to 2010 – is a back-up plan in case the school board doesn’t meet SACS requirements.
“It’s a safety net. It’s a just-in-case,” Ashe said. “But I expect them to get the job done.”
Ashe said SB 79 can’t come to the House Rules Committee before Thursday. The Senate would have to agree to the change.
Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Deal, said the governor’s staff is not backing the proposal, but is watching it.
Updated at 3:40 p.m.: Perhaps there was no connection, but Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was on the third floor of the Capitol this afternoon, visiting with his former Senate colleagues.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider