ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA, Reporter Newspapers broadcast partner) –
Testimony wrapped up late Friday in a federal hearing to determine if the governor can legally remove DeKalb school board members.
On Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal removed six school board members accused of mismanaging the district. The board has challenged the removal, and now a judge must decide if Deal’s action was legal.
Before the hearing started, U.S. District Judge Richard Story told the courtroom that the issue is complex and he must decide if Deal’s decision violates the Georgia Constitution or U.S. Constitution.
“I am a parent and I know what it’s like to care about your children,” Story said. “I understand the seriousness of these proceedings.”
Parent Betsy Parks attended Friday’s hearing.
“We have to have a safety net for our children,” said Parks, who has followed the problems in the district for years. “There’s a legal process for removing a dysfunctional board and I think the governor is within his rights.”
DeKalb County’s interim superintendent told CBS Atlanta News that he spent Thursday meeting with those involved in the district’s fight with the state. Michael Thurmond said the conversations were “private” and he would not name those with whom he met.
“I have not asked anyone to resign,” said Thurmond. “My goal is to effect a compromise that recognizes the value of this particular school district, understanding the governor has made a decision and we want to hopefully save taxpayers’ dollars.”
The negotiations failed and the hearing went on as scheduled.
Story said he would issue a ruling as quickly as possible but also wants to be thorough and thoughtful.
If Story decides to put in place a preliminary injunction, it means the current school board goes back to work.
If the judge does not put the injunction place, the governor can move forward and appoint an interim school board. The process of removing the current board moves forward, which can take several months.
In either case the lawyers expect more days in court.
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