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New DeKalb school board meets tonight
by Noreen Cochran
March 20, 2013 11:25 AM | 3051 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The DeKalb County school board will meet today at 6 p.m., back up to its full strength of nine members after Gov. Nathan Deal appointed six replacements March 13.

The new board members are financial manager John Coleman, of Atlanta, biologist Michael Erwin, of Decatur, accountant David Campbell, of Lithonia, mediator Joyce Morley, of Stone Mountain, educator Karen Carter, of Lakeside and business developer Thaddeus Mayfield, of Lithonia.

They replace Nancy Jester, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Jay Cunningham, Donna Edler, Pamela Speaks and Eugene Walker.

Deal suspended the former board members Feb. 27 after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put the school system on a one-year accreditation probation, citing governance and financial problems during their terms.

Losing accreditation limits graduates’ choices for higher education and can bar the way to federal scholarships and student loans.

Deal said the new panel impressed interim DeKalb schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond.

“I told him not to be intimidated by the qualifications and credentials that this list brought to the table,” Deal said.

“When I read them off to him, his exclamation, quite frankly, was, ‘Wow. These are very qualified people.’”

Kenneth Mason said the nominating committee, which he chaired, whittled more than 400 applications down to 60 interviewees and six finalists in less than a week.

“Our haste and our speed and our hard work, our urgency, were tied to the needs of the students and the need of the superintendent to have a quorum and move forward,” Mason said.

Deal addressed concerns Walker and others raised about the rights of black voters.

Five of the six suspended officials are African-American.

“The racial makeup of the six corresponds with the six who were removed,” Deal said.

“There is one white representative from District 1. The other representatives are African-American individuals. We think that … truly reflects the districts these individuals will be asked to represent on the board.”

Reflecting on the replaced members’ federal court challenge Feb. 28, after which U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story upheld Deal’s decision, Deal said he hoped everyone can move on.

“I have no guarantee, of course, that there will not be further interventions,” Deal said.

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