Deal to announce decision Monday in DeKalb School Board suspension case

Gov. Nathan Deal plans to take the weekend to think about the fate of the DeKalb County School Board. His staff said today that he plans to hold a news conference on Monday to announce whether he will suspend six members of the board.


The Georgia Board of Education is recommending that Deal suspend with pay Jesse Jay Cunningham, Donna Edler, Nancy Jester, Pamela Speaks, Eugene Walker and Sarah Copelin-Wood from the nine-member board. State officials spared the three newest board members—Melvin Johnson, Jim McMahan and Marshall Orson, who all took office in January. Officials reached their decision Thursday at 10 p.m. after a 14-hour hearing that was much like a court proceeding with nearly two dozen witnesses being called to testify.

Deal will meet on Monday at 11 a.m. with members of the DeKalb legislative delegation to announce his decision.


“Removing elected officials from office is a serious duty, not undertaken lightly. That responsibility, however, pales in comparison to the importance of assuring the credibility of students’ education,” Deal said in a statement. “I will do everything in my power to prevent the loss of accreditation of the DeKalb school system and the devastating impact it would have on students and economic development in one of the state’s largest counties.”


The DeKalb NAACP said it plans to continue pushing for the school district to get off of accreditation probation, regardless of Deal’s decision. But the organization does not support the law that allows the governor to intervene and remove the board because it is on probation. Voters should have that responsibility, said John Evans, president of the DeKalb NAACP.


“We don’t support sweeping all of them (the six school board members) in a pile and getting rid of them. The citizens elected them and the citizens should have the right to remove them, if that’s what they choose to do,” said Evans. “This is a civil rights issue. We have to work on changing the law.”


Restore DeKalb, a citizens’ group in South DeKalb, plans to hold a community meeting on Saturday to discuss the DeKalb School District and Thursday’s state hearing. Viola Davis, who heads the group, taped the hearing. She could not be reached today for this news article.


The meeting will be held at the Sanford Realty Building, 4183 Snapinger Woods Drive Decatur, 2 to 4 p.m.