WSB's Sandra Parrish contributed to this report from the State Capitol
Now that the federal court battle is over, the head of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools says the next big step in trying to get DeKalb County schools off of probation with his agency is up to Governor Nathan Deal.
“The first step right now is the governor identifying the right people,” said Dr. Mark Elgart.
Gov. Deal must now name the six people who will replace the DeKalb school board members he suspended based on a unanimous recommendation from the State Board of Education.
“I’m just grateful we have a clear path forward for the school system at this point,” State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) told News/Talk WSB’s Sandra Parrish. “It’s important to remember the endgame is restoring the DeKalb County school system’s accreditation by the end of the year.”
But Elgart said those replacement board members will have to work fast to make sure that happens and quickly become a team with the three existing board members. The next SACS inspection is less than three months away and, he said, the district is already woefully behind.
“Essentially two months have gone by and the system has done virtually nothing,” said Elgart.
When SACS inspectors arrive in May, he explained, they will be looking for signs that the DeKalb School Board is starting to focus more on kids than adults – something Elgart believes has not been the case for years.
The suspended board members can still get their jobs back.
Under the law the board members can appeal to the Governor.
“The individual board members have a right after 30 days to a hearing with the Governor’s designee,” WSB legal expert and UGA law professor Ron Carlson said. “I expect some of the board members will pursue that right, so this case will be hanging around for a while.”