UPDATE: DeKalb School Board names Dr. Melvin Johnson as chair

The DeKalb School Board elected Dr. Melvin Johnson as chair in a 7-2 vote. Board members Nancy Jester and Dr. Pamela Speaks cast the dissenting votes.

David Schutten, President of the Organization of DeKalb Educators(ODE), said he hopes the board can move forward with the new leadership but added that Johnson must do more to change negative perceptions.

"There are a lot of parents and employees who are concerned about his ties to the previous administration(former Superintendent Dr. Crawford Lewis), said Schutten. "He's going to have to make sure that a nepotism which has run rampant in the district is not upheld."


DeKalb School Board names new chairman today, will head to state hearing Thursday

The DeKalb County School Board will go before the state Board of Education on Thursday at 8 a.m. as scheduled. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Amanda Lee today rejected DeKalb’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have halted Thursday’s hearing. The board lost the right to stop the meeting because it failed to meet a five-day notification requirement to the state, Lee said.


The DeKalb School Board had said in lawsuit filed Tuesday that voters would be deprived of their rights if the state is allowed to step in and remove the district’s nine-member school board, who were elected to office by their constituents.


Although the school board was denied a restraining order to stop Thursday’s meeting, the board may still get one. Judge Lee has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 28 at 8:30 a.m.


School Board member Jay Cunningham said he respects the judge’s decision today to deny the restraining order the board sought for Thursday. He said the board will meet with its attorneys to discuss what impact the Feb. 28 hearing might have.


“We’re moving forward to address SACS concerns,” Cunningham said. “I think it’s important to point out that DeKalb has not lost its accreditation. We still have our accreditation and we plan to do everything to keep it.” 


This evening, the board is expected to name a new chairman to replace Dr. Eugene Walker, who stepped down from the post earlier this week. Board member Melvin Johnson’s name has surfaced as Walker’s possible successor. Johnson, who was elected in November 2012, is well known in the community. He formerly served as a deputy superintendent for DeKalb schools. James McMahan remains the vice chair of the board. 


The new leadership is part of the board’s plan to demonstrate that it is moving forward in addressing leadership deficits cited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).


As another step, the school board and interim schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond began going through “governance training” today at the Georgia School Boards Association in Lawrenceville. The intense training is designed to provide direction on how the board should govern itself concerning a variety of complex issues. Today’s training is one of several that will be held. The board is expected to go through “chairman” training on Feb. 27 in Macon.


The board hired the law firm of former Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker at $150,000 to oversee the governance training.

The DeKalb School Board's lawsuit can be viewed in its entirety, here.