Ex-DeKalb County school board chair to try to get job back - CBS46 News

Ex-DeKalb County school board chair to try to get job back

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Eugene Walker Eugene Walker
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

The former chairman of the DeKalb County school board, removed from office by Gov. Nathan Deal, is trying to get his job back.

Eugene Walker will present his case Wednesday before Administrative Law Judge Maxwell Wood in downtown Atlanta.

Deal removed Walker and five other DeKalb County school board members earlier this year, essentially saying that they lacked leadership and created a budget mess that landed the district on probation with its accrediting agency.

Walker has already taken his case to the Georgia Supreme Court. His lawyers argued that the law that allowed Deal to replace him is unconstitutional. A decision by the court is pending.

In order to get their jobs back, Walker and other board members who are challenging their dismissals must present their cases before an administrative law judge who essentially acts as a referee in contested firings.

Former board members Pam Speaks and Sarah Copelin-Wood have already had their hearings. Donna Edler and Jesse "Jay" Cunningham are to appear in mid-July. Ousted board member Nancy Jester of Dunwoody declined to seek reinstatement.

Before Walker's hearing began, his supporters held a rally outside the Office of State Administrative Hearings. Community activist Derrick Boazman compared the situation to the racial unrest in the 1960s, when then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace attempted to halt desegregation.

"What Gov. Deal did with the removal of the members of the DeKalb County school board is no different than what George Wallace did or his predecessor Talmadge or other governors who used voter suppression tactics to remove people from office," said Boazman. "This is the same fight that Julian Bond had in the 1960s when the Georgia legislature refused to see him for one reason. It was the color of his skin."

"Maybe the Governor got bad information," said Michael Langford, president of the United Youth-Adult Conference, "but based on what we've seen play out in the community, these facts do not warrant these individuals who've had their reputations ruined to be removed under these kinds of circumstances."

Gov. Deal's lawyers have argued that Deal had every right to remove the board members from office. He did so on the recommendation of the state board of education.

Wood, the administrative law judge, declined to comment on when he'd make a recommendation to Gov. Deal. The final decision will be the governor's.

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