Deal signs order to remove 6 DeKalb Co. School Board members - CBS46 News

Gov. Deal signs order to remove 6 DeKalb County School Board members

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DeKalb County School Board DeKalb County School Board
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Gov. Nathan Deal has signed an order to remove six DeKalb County School Board members.

The Georgia Board of Education last week recommended that six of nine board members be removed for failing to properly manage the district.

"The stakes are indeed high.  The future of almost 100,000 students who are in the DeKalb County school system is indeed something we cannot take lightly," said Deal during a news conference at the Capitol on Monday.

Deal said he is aware that there is still litigation pending that questions a state law giving him power to remove the board members.  However, he said he had to take action while the legal issues are resolved.

"I feel it's my responsibility to act as the current law stands and authorizes me to act, because I do feel that this is a matter of urgency," said Deal.

Those removed are Gene Walker, Sarah Copelin-Woods, Jesse "Jay" Cunningham, Nancy Jester, Donna Edler and Pamela Speaks.  If their removal is upheld by the court, they have 30 days to reapply for their jobs.

Newly elected board Chairman Melvin Johnson, Vice Chair Jim McMahan and Marshall Orson will remain on the board. 

Deal said he has already appointed a five-member committee to begin the search for new board members.

Keith Mason, a current member of the state board of education, will serve as chairman of the search committee.

The governor said the unanimous vote by the state education board after a 14-hour hearing last week convinced him to take action. 

"It's a very sad day as was the hearing," said State Sen. Fran Miller, R-Atlanta. "That hearing went for almost 14 hours.  No one takes pleasure in that.  And I think those members, much of the time, expressed remorse."  

Earlier Monday, members of the House and Senate from DeKalb County emerged from their meeting after an hour-long session with the governor and called the meeting productive.

State law allowed the governor to step in and remove some, or all, of the six. However, the school district has filed a lawsuit that said the law is unconstitutional. 

A federal judge issued an injunction over the weekend to stop the governor from taking any action until a hearing is held. That hearing is scheduled for Friday.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has put the district on probation for a lack of leadership, abuse of power and money mismanagement. 

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