Judge halts governor from removing DeKalb school board members - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Judge halts governor from removing DeKalb school board members

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story signed an order on Friday halting Gov. Nathan Deal's ability to remove DeKalb County Board of Education members, according to a copy of the order released to CBS Atlanta on Sunday.

Story's order refers to the "plaintiffs" - the DeKalb County Board of Education Members, as well as Deal.

"Plaintiffs' request that the court restrain Governor Deal from acting to suspend or remove any elected member of the DeKalb County Board of Education ... prior to the court holding a hearing on the matter is denied," Story's order read. "However, the implementation of Governor Deal's decision in this regard is hereby enjoined to preserve the status quo until after this Court has held a hearing on the matter."

Deal is expected to announce a decision on whether or not six school board members in question should be removed on Monday morning.

This comes after the Georgia Board of Education had a 14-hour long hearing on whether six of nine of DeKalb's school board members should be suspended. The board members, who were all elected to their positions, have come under fire after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) placed the school district on probation in December, citing "governance" issues.

The DeKalb County school board must present an update in May which could determine whether the district is removed from the probation list or if it loses its accreditation altogether. 

Jay Cunningham, who was the only board member in question to attend a Saturday town hall meeting, pleaded with district parents to support him.

"I was voted in," Cunningham said. "I'm standing in front of you today to get behind me to let me finish my term."

But Scott Holcomb, a state representative, said he does not support keeping the current board members in their places.

"In my mind, it is not an easy thing to remove people that were elected to office," Holcomb said. "But the failures of this board are really significant and consequential. The DeKalb County school board is the only board in the country that is on probation because of governance issues."

Holcomb said he worried that the federal judge's decision could prolong the process of putting the school board on the right track.

"The real challenge that we have right now is time," Holcomb said. "SACS expects an update in May, and we have to have all the work done by December."

Holcomb said the district risks losing its accreditation with SACS and that the implications of that expand beyond the classrooms.

"It's really devastating the potential impact that will have on our county," Holcomb said. "In terms of home values, in terms of losing quality teachers, in terms of not having outstanding educational opportunities for our students. We just have to get things right."

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