Governor Nathan Deal announced he will sign an executive order accepting the unanimous recommendation by the state Board of Education to suspend six of the nine members of the DeKalb County School Board. Deal made the announcement during a news conference at the State Capitol on Monday afternoon.
The governor said he is appointing a committee to nominate replacements for the suspended board members, and that he will sign the executive order this afternoon. However, the ousted board members can apply for reinstatement 30 days after the executive order is signed.
"The stakes are indeed high," said Gov. Deal, adding that the future of 100,000-plus students in DeKalb County cannot be taken lightly.
However, a federal judge has already issued a temporary restraining order preventing any new board members from taking office until after two court hearings later this week. The order, which was issued by U.S. District Judge Richard Story, doesn't restrain the governor from suspending board members, but it does prevent him from replacing them until after a hearing Friday.
"We don't want to have a long, protracted court battle, court argument. I would hope that the school board members will recognize that our students, our kids, that their interest is paramount to any of theirs," said state Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur).
Deal said that he has selected Brad Bryant, a former DeKalb County School Board member, to serve as his liaison to the DeKalb board and interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond.
Thurmond met with Governor Deal on Monday morning. Thurmond said the school district's priority was education as politicians and judges confronted questions about the embattled school board.
"This too shall pass, and we're just looking forward to the moment when the politicians and the legal wrangling ends, and then we can focus 100 percent of our time on our children," said Thurmond.
The DeKalb County School Board is suing in both Federal and Fulton Superior Courts, claiming the law giving the governor authority to replace local school board members from districts at risk of losing accreditation is unconstitutional. The DeKalb County school system is currently on probation.
Last week, the State Board of Education recommended six of the nine DeKalb County School Board members be given removed. Following a legal challenge, Judge Story temporarily blocked that move.