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Judge sides with Nathan Deal on school board removal
by LaTria Garnigan
March 01, 2013 10:21 AM | 6011 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>
DeKalb County Board of Education member Eugene Walker speaks during a meeting.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
DeKalb County Board of Education member Eugene Walker speaks during a meeting.
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A federal judge has affirmed Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision to remove six DeKalb school board members.

In a decision handed down Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Story denied the injunction filed by the school system against Deal and the state and vacated the court’s temporary restraining order.

After the federal court hearing Friday, many were anxious to see what would happen with the DeKalb County Board of Education and its attempt at stopping Deal’s decision to remove six of its members — Eugene Walker, Nancy Jester, Donna Edler, Jesse Cunningham, Sara Copelin-Wood and Pamela Speaks.

Attorneys Bob Wilson and Stephen Quinn with Wilson, Morton & Downs, LLC were there on behalf of the school board and argued that the Georgia General Assembly did not have the authorization to set up the statute for the removal of officers unless it came from the constitution. There representing the state and the Georgia Board of Education was Senior Assistant Attorney General Stefan Ritter. Story heard statements from both sides in the three-hour hearing.

Dr. Eugene Walker was the only DeKalb school board member present listening in on the hearing, along with former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, who left early in the process.

“The constitution guarantees elected and not appointed school board members,” said Quinn.

Quinn added there are three ways the DeKalb school board can be removed — by a recall vote, if the members were indicted or convicted of a felony and if the constitution gives the general assembly the authorization to provide for additional qualifications for office.

He added the state was to argue that “additional qualifications for office” sets up the law passed by the General Assembly, however, Quinn said that was not the intention.

Ritter argued the statute did, in fact, give the General Assembly the authorization to establish a decision, and said there was no standing on behalf of the school board in arguing the constitutionality of the law passed by the General Assembly.

Story reiterated the point of the hearing was to consider the challenge that the statute, which the governor had to remove the school board members, violates the Georgia constitution.

“We are here to decide the legal questions and to decide if the constitution was violated,” said Story.

“We are dealing with very complex legal issues here. And I will try to resolve these issues as quickly as I can, but I want to make sure I have everything to do that.”
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