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Local Education
State Supreme Court to hear from ousted DeKalb School Board members
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State Supreme Court to hear from ousted DeKalb School Board members

State Supreme Court to hear from ousted DeKalb School Board members
Photo Credit: JOHNNY CRAWFORD / AJC
APPEALING TO THE FEDS--030113 Atlanta: Former DeKalb County School Board member Dr. Eugene Walker walks out of the Richard B. Russell Federal Building on Friday, March 1, 2013. He was in federal court challenging Gov. Nathan Deal suspension of six of nine DeKalb school board members. JOHNNY CRAWFORD / JCRAWFORD@AJC.COM

State Supreme Court to hear from ousted DeKalb School Board members

Who runs one of the state’s biggest school district is on the docket at the Georgia Supreme Court today, as justices hear the case of those DeKalb school board members replaced earlier this year by Governor Nathan Deal.

At the heart of the issue: Did Governor Deal have the right to remove them from office and name their replacements after the system was put on probation by its accrediting agency, the Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools? Ousted Board President Eugene Walker and his lawyers base their case on the notion that the governor has bypassed the voters.

“They will say a strict reading of the (Georgia) Constitution gives removal power solely to the electorate,” explained WSB legal expert Ron Carlson.

On the other hand, Carlson said, lawyers for the state will argue that Walker and the other booted board members lost their seats because they failed to maintain the districts academic qualifications, giving Governor Deal “a right to remove board members if they do not maintain accreditation.”

Carlson said both arguments are powerful. But in the end, the state’s highest court must acknowledge that any law written by the Legislature is presumed to be Constitutional. In other words, in a tie, the state would win.

Each side has 20 minutes to make its argument - briefs on which the fate of 100-thousand DeKalb County students may hang.

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