This afternoon, Governor Deal accepted the recommendation made by the State Board of Education (SBOE) and suspended six members of the DeKalb Board of Education (DBOE) pursuant to the authority granted to him under O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73.
As I have written and stated previously, I agree with the recommendation. I also encouraged the Governor to take this action when we spoke prior to his announcement.
What happens next?
The six members of the DBOE can request reinstatement no earlier than 30 days and no later than 60 days after the suspension. If a member does not request reinstatement, then the member will be permanently removed.
If a member requests reinstatement, then the Governor or his designated agent shall conduct a hearing for the purpose of receiving evidence relative to whether the local board of education member's continued service on the local board of education is more likely than not to improve the ability of the local school system or school to retain or reattain its accreditation. The appealing member shall be given at least 30 days' notice prior to such hearing. What this means is that it will be at least 30 days before a member can request reinstatement, and then another 30 days will pass before the hearing can be held. Consequently, at least two months will lapse before a member who requests reinstatement can either be permanently removed or reinstated.
Governor Deal has appointed a committee to review and make recommendations for possible replacements. This committee includes Keith Mason, a current member of the State Board of Education who will chair the committee; Jim Bostick, a former member of the State Board of Education; Sadie Denard, a member of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce; Alicia Phillip, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta; and Garry McGiboney, also a member of the State Board of Education. If any of you are interested in potentially serving on the DBOE in the event the members are permanently removed, you can either contact the committee or let me know.
Here’s a quick outline of the timeline:
• Suspension begins today, February 25, 2013
• Between 30 and 60 days from today: a member who wants to be reinstated can request it
o If a member does not request reinstatement, removal is permanent and a replacement will be named
o If a member requests reinstatement, a hearing will be held no sooner than 30 days on the issues of whether reinstatement will more likely than not improve the ability of the local school system to retain accreditation.
If the hearing officer recommends reinstatement, then the member will be reinstated
If the hearing officer recommends removal, then removal becomes permanent and a replacement will be named
What about the litigation?
From my standpoint, I believe there is a good chance the law will be upheld. To begin, the potential damage to DeKalb County, the region, and the state, would be severe if the school system loses accreditation. Secondly, the DBOE has argued that the decision to suspend was not based on an individualized determination but rather was based on the actions, and inactions, of the DBOE as a whole. While this is true, the law allows each individual to have an individualized determination through the reinstatement process. Moreover, the DBOE has had ample opportunity to present its case. There was a hearing in January and a 14-hour hearing last week. After listening to all of that testimony, the SBOE voted unanimously to recommend suspension.
In conclusion, there are many pieces to this puzzle and it is unclear how everything will play out. I will continue to keep you updated.