Courtesy Emory University

The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to void the annexation of Emory University, Centers for Disease Control and surrounding properties by the City of Atlanta.

In a statement released by DCSD, the reason for the lawsuit is an “11th-hour change in the annexation ordinance” that allows for the extension of Atlanta Public Schools’ (APS) boundaries into the annexed area. The lawsuit states that the original annexation ordinance specifically prohibited the extension since only eight students within the annexed area were public school eligible.

From the DCSD statement:

Emory lobbied for and received public support for the annexation from both DeKalb County and the DeKalb Board of Education based on that key element. Then, in late November 2017, just two business days before the City Council’s public vote on the ordinance, a material change was quietly made to the annexation plan. After APS threatened to oppose the annexation ordinance if it did not receive the property tax money from the annexed area, the mayor asked the City Council to reverse itself on the school district issue, resulting in a complete rewrite of the ordinance to extend the boundaries of APS throughout the entire annexed area.

The result could not be more unfair. If left unchallenged, the ordinance will effectively transfer to APS from DeKalb County School District over $2 million dollars in tax revenue, when APS is already the richest school system in Georgia. It hardly needs the money as the annexed area only includes an estimated eight students. This windfall was never sought by the petitioners for annexation. According to the lawsuit, this last minute legislative sleight of hand violated city regulations for passage of ordinances as the material change was not adequately communicated to the stakeholders and the public at large. Our complaint seeks an immediate injunction against the expansion of APS boundaries into the annexed area, and a permanent injunction invalidating the annexation ordinance.

The lawsuit comes as a last resort after direct efforts to collaborate with APS went nowhere, and efforts by the DeKalb delegation during the 2018 Session of the General Assembly failed to produce a legislative fix.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.