Accreditation agency Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put the school system on probation in December, citing ineffective government and questionable financial management.
Attorneys representing the school board testified in federal court Feb. 28, seeking to retain the board membership of Jester, Eugene Walker, Donna Edler, Jesse Cunningham Jr., Sara Copelin-Wood and Pamela Speaks.
“I wanted to resign from the board in advance of the hearing in February, but refrained from doing so because of the pending court case,” Jester wrote on her blog March 5. “I did not support, in any way, the filing of legal action.”
Former school board chair Walker said in a statement March 4 he is “dismayed but not deterred” by Deal’s decision overriding that of the voters.
“The governor is using SACS and the State Board of Education as a hammer and chisel to chip away at the progress we have made,” Walker said. “I cannot and will not go down without a fight on the principles at stake here.”
He denied any wrongdoing.
“No one on the DeKalb County Board of Education, myself included, has committed a crime or misappropriated, misused or misspent funds entrusted to us,” he said.
“Quite the opposite: We have served with honesty and integrity.”
District 40 State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, supported the decision.
“It’s what I hoped would happen,” he said.
“I hope we move forward and turn the thing around and get back on track.”
Melvin Johnson, now school board chair, Marshall Orson and Jim McMahan are still in place but require at least two additional members to constitute a quorum.
District 81 State Rep. Scott Holcomb said it could be two months before a replacement board is up and running.
It could include reinstated members, whose suspension he said he supported.
“My views were that the board had failed and I did not have confidence that the ones who caused the problems would be able to fix them,” Holcomb said.
Millar said a functioning school system is important not just for the 99,000 students in the system, but also for economic development.
“You don’t want to be on the front page of the New York Times because you lost your accreditation,” he said.