Judge’s emergency order pre-empts Deal’s action on DeKalb schools
6:17 pm, February 25th, 2013
A federal judge’s emergency order intended to “preserve the status quo” issued Friday night pre-empted Governor Nathan Deal’s decision today to replace six members of the DeKalb County Board of Education.
Judge Richard Story issued his order after Deal announced his intention to take action regarding a likely removal of the majority of the school board in order to salvage the DeKalb County school system’s endangered accreditation.
Story denied a request by lawyers representing the DeKalb County School District and school board chairman Eugene Walker to restrain the governor from suspending or removing any elected member of the school board prior to what had been a hearing on the matter scheduled for Tuesday. The other members of the school board are not listed as parties to the suit.
But Story halted the implementation of Deal’s decisions “to preserve the status quo until after this Court has held a hearing on the matter.”
“Thus, if Governor Deal decides to appoint any new member to the Board, that proposed member shall not be permitted to take office at this time,” Story ordered. Story also said in his order that if the governor attempted to remove any school board member, “that member will remain in office, but shall not be permitted to act on behalf of of the board or take any other official action in his or her capacity as [a] board member.”
Story delayed Tuesday’s scheduled hearing until Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Last week, Story refused to grant an earlier emergency petition from lawyers representing Walker and the school district. They had sought to bar the State Board of Education from convening a hearing on whether board members should be removed in order to salvage the school district’s accreditation, which the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has suspended based on what its representatives have said was threatening and abusive behavior by board members, coupled with chronic financial irresponsibility that has left the system deeply in debt.
DeKalb school board lawyers also sought to bar the state board from making any recommendation to suspend any member of the DeKalb board and prevent the governor from suspending board members or stripping them of their elected office.