Monday, February 25, 2013

Governor Deal: Mob Rule or Rule of Law


Governor Deal agreed with the State Board of Education and removed six members of the school board.

Many people are glad, but many people today realize their vote was taken away and has no value. Now we wait for two judges to weigh in.

Whom the Governor appoints will be interesting. We know certain legislators have had his ear. So when the replacements are announced these names came not from Deal's Rolodex but from certain members of the DeKalb delegation. A nominating committee is said to be in the process of forming - their task is to name the replacements. I may as well submit my name. To whom do I send my résumé?

Nominating Committee is formed. No Dunwoody Chamber member on it but DeKalb Chamber does. Is there anyone from Dunwoody on this committee? It does not matter, the replacement Board members already have been contacted.

(b) Any local board of education member suspended under this Code section may petition the Governor for reinstatement no earlier than 30 days following suspension and no later than 60 days following suspension. In the event that a suspended member does not petition for reinstatement within the allotted time period, his or her suspension shall be converted into permanent removal, and the temporary replacement member shall become a permanent member and serve out the remainder of the term of the removed member.

(c) Upon petition for reinstatement by a suspended local board of education member, the Governor or his or her 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 its accreditation. The appealing member shall be given at least 30 days' notice prior to such hearing. Such hearing shall be held not later than 90 days after the petition is filed and in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," except that the individual conducting the hearing shall have the power to call witnesses and request documents on his or her own initiative. For purposes of said chapter and any hearing conducted pursuant to this Code section, the Governor shall be considered the "agency" and the Attorney General or his or her designee shall represent the interests of the Governor in the hearing. If it is determined that it is more likely than not that the local board of education member's continued service on the local board of education improves the ability of the local school system or school to retain its accreditation, the member shall be immediately reinstated; otherwise, the member shall be permanently removed, and the temporary replacement member shall become a permanent member and serve out the remainder of the term of the removed member or until the next general election which is at least six months after the member was permanently removed, whichever is sooner. Judicial review of any such decision shall be in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50.

Soon Georgia Governor Deal will announce a decision on the DeKalb School Board. I am in agreement at least three members of the Board need removed but the removal process is the tricky thing here.

The DeKalb School District was placed on probation by SACS, triggering a new law that calls for Board members to be removed. Please note that NOTHING in the SACS report points to bad schools or bad teachers - that is the saddest part of this mess. This is an adult issue.

My theory is this SACS probation was planned many months ago, targeting specific members of the DeKalb School Board. But not the specific Board members you think. SACS has a strangle hold on Georgia school systems and fear the Texas model. Like any profitable (to the paid staff) non-profit entity SACS wants to keep growing. Anyone calling out SACS and its lack of focus on the classroom and student outcomes is a threat. We will have more details on the conspiracy theory soon. It involves SACS, state employees, and perhaps an elected official or two.

At the start of the hearing last week the State announced they are going after six board members only, not the three newly elected members. Of course this is totally against the written law, but not a surprise. The law is very clear it is all or none. Those close to the situation find it apparent why the trio was not included in the hearing. These three have very close ties to one DeKalb legislator, and even though this legislator's political party is in the minority, she has the Power and controls the DeKalb delegation. The Fernbank and Druid Hills area will control the Board and $1 billion. Remember how organized the Fernbank posse was when the science center funding was on the chopping block? Where are they now? They are sitting on the sidelines, smiling knowing they have control.

The State Board recommended removing only 6 of the 9 board members, but this is against the law. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73 says This Code section shall apply to all local board of education members, regardless of when they were elected or appointed. House Bill 115, protecting the rights of the newly board elect, has not passed yet and once passed won’t be effective for a while.

So will the fine Governor follow the law as written, or follow the uneducated opinion of the State Board of Education?

Too bad we did not already have legislation ready to go on the new school district issue. Based on the negative press and political pressure involved, a Bill allowing the People of Georgia to vote to amend the Constitution would have passed this session.

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