New DeKalb County school board members attend first meeting - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

New DeKalb County school board members attend first meeting


Six new DeKalb County school board members attended their first official board meeting Wednesday night.

The members unanimously voted to remove the board as a plaintiff from a lawsuit against the state. The lawsuit argued it was unconstitutional for the governor to remove board members and appoint their replacements.

"We have to put children first like I said before and secondly we have to save money," said Dr. Melvin Johnson, chair of the DeKalb Co. Board of Education.

The governor appointed the six after removing old board members for failing to perform their jobs. A committee waded through approximately 400 applications for the open seats.

"I think I would encourage most DeKalb residents not to disengage and not to stop holding them accountable but give them the benefit of the doubt," said parent Jennifer Hatfield, who planned to attend the board meeting.

After the meeting, Hatfield said she was optimistic. "I think they've demonstrated in just one meeting a lot of more thought and careful consideration than I have seen previous," said Hatfield.

The district's accrediting agency, SACS, put the school system on probation for a lack of leadership, an abuse of power and budget problems.

"There's a lot of uncertainty over the budget," said David Schutten, head of the Organization of DeKalb Educators. "People have had pay cuts for the last four years. A lot of teachers are considering leaving DeKalb County to go to school systems where they'll make more money."

New board members said earning back full accreditation is their top priority.

"We are not in competition, we are in coalition," said Dr. Joyce Morley, a new board member.

Parents said they are glad to hear the district is moving forward.

"Let's go ahead and give them that trust because they need that to get the work done," said Hatfield.

The members' vote to remove the board as a plaintiff in the lawsuit leaves one plaintiff, Dr. Gene Walker, a former board member. The vote means the county will no longer pay for moving the lawsuit forward.

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