Gov. Nathan Deal held a teleconference Thursday with DeKalb County students who are concerned that the district is on probation.
Students asked the governor what will happen if the school system loses accreditation.
"You could almost say, without exception, you would not be able to be admitted to any college or university outside the state of Georgia," Deal told students.
Questions ranged from why the district has failed to provide new textbooks to how the district ended up on probation.
"I can see that they're trying to improve on it," said student Brenda Khor. "But actions speak louder than words, so I won't really know until they actually do something about it."
The number of applications for six open seats on the DeKalb County School Board reached 403 when the deadline to apply ended Wednesday at 5 p.m.
"It's a tremendous outpouring of people and that's going to make our job challenging because we're going to go through each and every one of them," said Kenneth Mason, who chairs the nominating panel.
Mason promised the five-member committee appointed by the governor will quickly and thoroughly review the applications.
"People have been passionate about this issue," said Mason. "People are passionate about their children."
Deal recently removed six school board members accused of not properly running the district. A federal judge ruled on Monday the governor can move forward with replacing those board members.
George Chidi of Concerned Citizens for a Unified DeKalb said he looks forward to new board members taking over. However, his group would like to see a special election held so voters have the final say.
"No board is going to be effective if it doesn't have, ultimately, the support of the people," said Chidi. "And if the people feel that the board, as appointed, isn't legitimate then that board isn't going to be effective."
Daniel Montgomery, a retired nuclear chemist, is among those who've applied for board seats.
"I'm not an educator but I'd like to think I'm educated," Montgomery told CBS Atlanta News. "And I've demonstrated management skills in my career, as well as an ability to think and to make good decisions."
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) put the district on probation for mismanaging money and a lack of leadership.
"It is very important that, regardless of the legal process, this system move forward," said SACS K-12 President Mark Elgart on Tuesday. "That cannot wait. The focus of the adults on the system has to be changed to focus on kids."
While the governor is moving forward with the selection process, some said it is likely the legal battle could be long and drawn out.
The nominating committee will officially begin its work Friday afternoon and work through the weekend. They have not said when they will name the six board replacements.
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