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Gov. Deal signing order removing 6 DeKalb school board members | Schools

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Gov. Deal signing order removing 6 DeKalb school board members
Gov. Deal signing order removing 6 DeKalb school board members

ATLANTA - Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday he'll remove six of the nine members of the DeKalb County School Board, but a federal court order now has to be addressed.

Deal said in a news conference that he was naming six persons to determine who should replace the outgoing board members.

"The stakes in this case are high; the future of almost 100,000 students hangs in the balance," Deal said in a statement.

"Therefore, I have accepted the unanimous recommendation of the State Board of Education to suspend six members of the DeKalb school board. I have met with Superintendent Michael Thurmond, and I believe he can play a vital role in getting the system back on track. I look forward to a positive working relationship with Superintendent Thurmond on behalf of the children of DeKalb County."

MORE | Continuing Coverage of DeKalb school issues

Brad Bryant, executive director of the Georgia Foundation for Education for the Georgia Department of Education, will serve as liason between the school board and interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond and Deal.

Members of the panel include:

Chairman Kenneth Mason -- member of the State Board of Education from the 5th Congressional District

Garry W. McGiboney -- Associate Superintendent of Policy and Charter Schools for the Georgia Department of Education

James E. Bostic Jr. -- Managing Director at HEP & Associates and a partner at Coleman Lew & Associates

Alicia Phillip -- President of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Sadie Dennard -- Region External Affairs Manager for Georgia Power's Metro East Region

The members of this panel will make a recommendation to the governor as to who should replace the ousted board members.

11Alive News has confirmed a federal judge signed an order that in essence prevents any board member from losing their job until they have their say in federal court.  That is expected to happen Friday.

When asked about it, Deal said his decision would not affect the court hearing. He said that he felt his decision was within the letter of the law.

The bigger question is whether those members will continue to try and stop him.

They tried unsuccessfully to stop a marathon 14-hour State Board of Education hearing Thursday that ended with the state board voting unanimously to recommend the removals based on misconduct and mismanagement.

Evidence against them included being put on academic probation last December, poor bookkeeping practices and what their accrediting agency called a decade of decline.

They also have a court hearing set for next Thursday challenging the constitutionality of the 2011 law that created the removal process.

As he toured new construction at Chamblee Charter High School on Friday, Interim School Superintendent Michael Thurmond said he is more concerned with where the school system goes from here.

"What we're ready to do is to pivot and focus back on improving our academic performance and helping and supporting our teachers on reaching out and communicating with parents," Thurmond told 11Alive News.

Shawn Keefe is one of many DeKalb County parents who want a new board.

He hopes the focus will finally shift from political bickering to the 99,000 students in Georgia's third largest school system.

"I'm hoping that the recommendation paves the way for us to start anew and, hopefully, improve the situation in the county," he told 11Alive.

Many are also hoping that the school board will not continue its fight to save their seats and have the removal law thrown out.

"If they feel they need to sue, do it on your own dime," parent Robin Malinovsky told 11Alive.

"Don't make me pay for it and I don't know if I'd want to sue for a job that nobody wanted me to have anyway," she added.

Other DeKalb County residents support the board's lawsuit against the Governor.

Bill Crichlow, a DeKalb County voter, worked for School Board Member Donna Edler during her successful campaign for office in the fall of 2010.

"I don't think the Governor should have the power to disenfranchise the voters of DeKalb County," Crichlow said Monday night.  "I don't know that these replacement board members are going to be any better than the current ones.  It's up to the people, the voters of DeKalb County, to make that decision.  And to do a recall process that is in place."

Newly elected School Board Chairman Melvin Johnson is one of three members not included in the removal recommendation since they just took office.

He would not predict if the full board would continue their legal battle to remain intact.

Johnson said part of their reaction will depend on what the Governor decides next week.

"We're operating right now as a board, so whatever the decisions are, that's why we have to take on item at a time in terms of what we will do," he said.