In a news conference Feb. 25, Gov. Nathan Deal announced that he has accepted the unanimous recommendation of the Georgia Board of Education (GBOE) to remove six members of the DeKalb school board.
“This is certainly a serious matter. It is a matter that is of grave concern to all of us, especially the parents and the students in the DeKalb County school system,” Deal said. “The stakes are indeed high. The future of almost 100,000 students…is indeed something that we cannot take lightly.”
The county school board has come under fire since it was placed on accreditation probation by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the agency that accredits the school district through its parent company, AdvancED.
GBOE voted, after a 14-hour hearing on Feb. 21, to recommend to Deal to remove DeKalb board members Sarah Copelin-Wood, Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, Donna Elder, Nancy Jester, Pamela A. Speaks and Eugene P. Walker.
Only the newly elected board members, Dr. Melvin Johnson, Jim McMahan and Marshall D. Orson, are to keep their jobs.
Deal formed a nominating committee to recommend replacement board members.
The committee consists of GBOE members Kenneth Mason, who represents DeKalb County and will serve as chairman; Jim Bostic, a former GBOE member; Sadie Dennard, education committee chairwoman of DeKalb Chamber of Commerce; Alicia Phillip, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta; and former DeKalb school district administrator Garry McGiboney, who will represent the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE).
Brad Bryant, a former DeKalb school board member and current director of the Department of Education Foundation, will be liaison to the governor’s office, the state school superintendent, GDOE, GBOE and the DeKalb school board.
“This is an issue that needs to be resolved as quickly and as thoroughly as possible,” Deal said.
Two days before the hearing before GBOE, the DeKalb school board filed a lawsuit in Fulton Superior Court challenging the state law that gives the governor the authority to remove a school board.
A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for March 1.