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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

DeKalb County school board files lawsuit to stop suspension

The DeKalb County school board has caught plenty of flak over the past several weeks. Embroiled in controversy, the school district has dealt with former superintendent Cheryl Atkinson stepping down, a plagiarizing school official, and continued concerns over the system's probation.

Now the DeKalb County school board has filed a lawsuit, going one step further to ensure its survival. According to the AJC, its members asked for a temporary restraining order earlier today. If granted, it would effectively postpone a Georgia Board of Education hearing set to take place on Thursday. The state board could recommend a suspension of DeKalb County's board members, should that meeting occur.

"The longer this is drawn out, the more protracted it becomes and the more the story becomes one that concerns people everywhere," Deal, who could remove the nine school board members with a recommendation from the state board, told the AJC. "We don't want anything to occur that will jeopardize what a diploma from a DeKalb County high school might mean, so everything that can be done to facilitate and bring this all to some logical conclusion serves us all."

The hearing will take place because of a 2011 law requiring reviews for all school districts placed on probation. Attorney Robert Wilson, who represents the DeKalb School District, has argued that the law violates the state constitution.

AJC education columnist Maureen Downey spoke today with DeKalb County's new interim superintendent, Michael Thurmond, who was unable to address the restraining order. She recapped his thoughts on this week's hearing:

He says that when he offered to speak to the state Board of Education on Thursday - if that hearing is held - he intends to to speak for the district, not for the board.

We'll post an update once we hear how the school board's lawsuit unravels. For the time being, Marshall Orson, one of DeKalb County's school board members, will discuss the school district's ongoing issues and possible reform ideas tonight from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Emory Presbyterian Church.

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