Governor is Wrong to Suspend the DeKalb School Board

School board member Eugene Walker responds to Gov. Nathan Deal's decision to suspend six members of the DeKalb board of education.

The Governor is wrong in his decision to suspend members of the DeKalb County Board of Education.

The DeKalb School District has been placed on probation by a private accrediting institution called SACS which holds considerable sway in the education community.  SACS has made a multitude of allegations, some of which I agree with, but all of them were developed unilaterally in a shrouded process. 

The leadership of SACS is not elected by the public, do not have to conform to open meetings and open records laws, and are not subject to constitutional due process as they sit in judgment of public institutions and elected officials.

The DeKalb Board of Education, like all school boards, is a public institution.  We have open meetings, open records, due process, and we are accountable to the people who elect us into office.  If there is cause to remove a member, such as an indictment or if a member resigns or passes away in office, the voters return to the ballot box to name the successor. 

It is the democratic process: the electorate chooses their representative leadership.  My constituents elected me, my colleagues’ constituents elected them and Governor Deal’s elected him.  It’s the model our founding fathers took great pains to create.  It’s the way it should be.

What we have here is the State of Georgia once again meddling in local affairs.  Rather than funding local school systems properly, the General Assembly chose to write Senate Bill 84, a popular but undemocratic law to impose state will on local politics. 

The Governor has been hamstrung by an onerous law which gives an inordinate amount of power to a private company, SACS, and an appointed state board.  One member of this board was appointed only last week and home schooled her children to boot.

This law, which requires the State Board to recommend the removal of all or none of the school board members, if it was constitutional to begin with, replaces the legitimate will of the voters with that of an appointed group.  This process is a clear attempt to circumvent or get around the democratic process - citizens electing and holding accountable their elected officials.

We have had problems on the DeKalb Board of Education. The DeKalb Board of Education is composed of democrats, republicans, black, white, men, women, liberal, conservatives and tea partiers. By virtue of the electoral process, all are represented and have a seat at the table. 

The wisdom of the voters created the diversity, which is good and healthy for a representative democracy. These problems of communication and respect for each other have been brought to our attention, and we are working on them.  We have hired a new interim superintendant, we have passed a responsible budget, we have identified resolutions to many of the issues raised by the mighty SACS and I have resigned my chairmanship to effectuate the additional changes that are needed as we move forward.

It is against this backdrop that I take a stand to fight for and preserve the democratic process and remain hopeful that those who believe in and support the U.S. and State Constitution will join in. 

I will not quit or step aside.  Governor Deal is wrong to thumb his nose at the U.S. and State constitutions, and he knows he is wrong.  I place my faith in God and the voters of DeKalb County, not elitists under the gold dome who never set foot east of Moreland Avenue.  

Eugene Walker
DeKalb Board of Education District 9

Jo February 27, 2013 at 08:19 PM
It's a given that long-term members of the DeKalb School Board is on their way out, the only question is how much kicking and screaming and waste of tax dollars we're going to be subjected to before it is over. To my mind, that leaves just two questions: (1) Can the citizens of DeKalb either hasten them along (impeachment? emergency recall?) or sue them personally to recoup public funds wasted on their sorry defense? (We all know where that money SHOULD be going) ...and (2) What can we do to prevent this type of misconduct and negligence from ever happening again? (What resources are available to help us clean up the *system* of the way the BOE works and promote integrity and true public service?)
contented-NOT March 06, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Isn't it nice to have some body in authority to discipline that woeful Board!
Tom Doolittle March 11, 2013 at 11:40 PM
From a former board member--many issues question whether "its for the children" trumps the constitution and due process and the precedent set. (BTW--follow this blog if you want to zero in on school issues--amd clearly separate them from new city-making) http://us.mg205.mail.yahoo.com/dc/launch?.partner=sbc&.gx=0&.rand=2d2jqc274bcck
Tom Doolittle March 11, 2013 at 11:49 PM
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2013/03/michigan-will-take-over-detroit-snyder-has-top-candidate-mind/4843/ Detroit Takedown: Is this where we're headed now that we trump the local control and the principals under home rule with "for the children". If and when communities choose a scaled-down society over skyscrapers, hotels and ball parks, does the governor use the "children" precedent to declare a re-trenched economy an "emergency"--and "failing". What 3rd party extra-judicial economic expert (Vinson?) does the legislature empower king status to deem an economy "failed"? The takeover of a school system is too much executive power--and we'll regret it when it spills to other areas.
contented-NOT March 12, 2013 at 03:07 AM
Detroit should have had some intervention long ago; thankfully that is not where DeKalb County is today. The point is the DeKalb Board of Ed has the System in a tail spin and lost the confidence of the public. You led the Board into the problem and you have no way out. Thankfully you are not untouchable.


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