To DCSS BOE: You’re On Your Own

Representative Mike Jacobs, 80th District, along with co-sponsor Scott Holcomb, 81st District, have introduced a bill in the Georgia General Assembly  that would block school board members facing removal from using taxpayer dollars for their own defense.

Code Section 20-2-73 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), relating to suspension and removal of local school board members under certain circumstances, is amended by adding a new subsection to read as follows:

“(f) A local board of education shall not expend any public funds for attorney’s fees or expenses of litigation relating to removal proceedings pursuant to this Code section except as necessary for its defense at the hearing before the state board as provided for in subsection (a) of this Code section.”

Other representatives sponsoring this bill are:  Tom Taylor, 79th District; Stacey Abrams, 89th District; Mary Margaret Oliver, 82nd District; and Alisha Morgan, 39th District.

Many of our readers are also asking:

(1) When does this bill, if passed, become effective?

(2) Will this bill, if passed, apply to the current DeKalb County Board members who have been suspended? and

(3) Will this bill, if passed, make null and void any contracts for legal services for defense already entered into by the DeKalb County Board members?

Stand by.  We are seeking the answers.  Meanwhile, please let your state representative know you expect a vote in favor of this bill.

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15 Responses to To DCSS BOE: You’re On Your Own

  1. waitaminit 1 says:

    If a lawsuit is untertaken to affirm or reject the general process for removing an elected office holder or even specifically a school board member with statewide constitutional implications, they are protecting the innterests of the county they work in and others statewide.

    It would be perfectly appropriate to challenge this attempt if passed into law also–with taxpayer funds. These people are not thinking and letting their emotions run away with them. In fact, I’d bet MMO knows this darn well and is just faking support.

    What good is a law degree in the Legislature if all you do with it is write frivolous legislation.

  2. Ella says:

    I absolutely do not feel the school board members should be able to use the school systems funds if the governor and state board remove them. This is taking money away from the students when the overspending of money is one of the major issues to start with.

  3. SWD Parent says:

    I definitely agree. In the corporate world, if you are dismissed from your job you cannot use your former employer’s funds in your fight to keep your job. During the APS cheating scandal, the APS teachers & principals used their own funds to fight against their dismissals. This is further proof of the selfishness of this Board.

  4. Curious says:

    According to the bill, it “become[s] effective upon its approval by the Governor or upon its becoming law without such approval.” So as soon as Governor Deal signed it, it would become effective. It seems as if the law would bar the payment of fees and costs from that point forward, but would not allow a claw back of fees already paid.

  5. Curious, yes, you would think that, but the normal rules applied in the real world do not always apply to DeKalb for some reason. We are still trying to figure out what changed from the time of the first hearing when the state BOE made it very clear that they ONLY had a choice to recommend ALL or NONE of the board for suspension. Then, without explanation, at the end of the second (or continued) hearing, they recommended removal of all except the three, even though they were specifically mentioned in the SACS report as part of the problem and admitted as much when they were briefly questioned the first time around.

    It’s a tangled web these lawmakers weave and, unfortunately, our money and children are the ones caught up in it!

  6. educator688 says:

    When teachers lost their jobs, they paid for legal representation with their own money. Why should it be any different for school board members?

  7. Nearly 80% of DeKalb Voters Support Removing School Board Members
    http://www.hegllc.org/HEG/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/DeKalb-School-Board_021913-Results2.pdf

    “It is rare to see this kind of agreement across racial and/or political lines on an issue. A strong majority in every subgroup-gender, political affiliation, race- wants to see some type of change. If the Governor is paying attention to DeKalb, then I think this sends a strong message that he could potentially remove school board members without fear of substantial backlash from voters. This is almost a plea for action,” said lead pollster Fred Hicks.

    Which of the following school board members do you most want to see removed and replaced?

    Walker 58.4%
    Wood 12.7%
    McMahan 6.9%
    Speaks 6.4%
    Cunningham 5.2%
    Edler 4.6%
    Orson 2.3%
    Jester 1.7%
    Johnson 1.7%

  8. 11Alive is posing the question: Should taxpayer dollars defend DeKalb School Board members?
    http://www.11alive.com/rss/article/279738/40/Should-taxpayer-dollars-defend-DeKalb-School-Board-members

    These are some questions we really want the answers to:

    How can we take away the Board’s ability to spend tax dollars on lawyers for themselves?

    Can Thurmond stop it as one blogger suggested?

    Can the board even approve spending not requested by the super?!

    Also, can they vote in Executive Session to file a lawsuit? Similarly, the County Commission can negotiate land deals in private, but must execute the sale in public.

    In addition – seems the county isn’t willing to pay Burrell Ellis’ legal fees –
    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/dekalb-ethics-board-shoots-down-ceo-request-for-le/nWZ99/

    We have been looking at BOE policies and here is what we have found:

    The Superintendent and the Chair of the DeKalb County Board of Education shall have authority to file applications, requisitions, and requests for funds which are authorized for use in financing the DeKalb County School System and those included in the budget adopted by the DeKalb County Board of Education.

    Key points from our blogging crew:

    –In election situations, where there is a recount issue, for instance, the incumbent doesn’t get legal fees paid by the government entity he serves; it has to be paid for by donations or his campaign committee.

    –When President Clinton was impeached, he had to hire his own attorneys (he wasn’t represented by the White House counsel)–remember the Clinton defense fund?

    –based on the policy above, we don’t see how they could pay for it, unless there is a line item in the approved budget for lawyers. But these seem to be new legal contracts, so they might be outside the budget–if they are part of the approved budget, then it would seem Thurmond is directing the money to be used to represent the Board. So we think Thurmond could stop it, if he decided not to pay. That leads us to this question — Who signed the contract?

    –We’re concerned about Wilson representing the full board and Walker individually. They may have countervailing issues. If Walker is going to file suit individually (why is he?) then he needs a different attorney. Odd aside: Gene is suing both individually and as the board chair. But he’s not board chair anymore.

    +++

    Download the Fulton civil lawsuit here:
    http://www.fcclkjudicialsearch.org/judicialsearch/Scripts/UVlink.dll/tsgdb1/WEBSERV/PUBCivilSearch?action%253Dview%26track%253D780765

    Looks like they’re just going to let the federal court handle it.

    In the SUPERIOR COURT
    Fulton County, Georgia
    Case No. 2013CV227450

    THE DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT AND DR. EUGENE WALKER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS A MEMBER AND CHAIRMAN OF THE DEKALB COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION VS. THE GEORGIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND NATHAN DEAL, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA

    Filed on 02/19/2013
    Case Type: DECLARATORY JUDGMENT CIVIL
    Judge: Kelly Lee
    Current Status: Disposed
    Disposition: 02/26/2013 – DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE BY PARTY

  9. FWIW, State Representative Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) thinks we should pay the board’s legal fees. State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) does not. Neither does State Representative Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) or State Representative Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) according to 11Alive.

  10. teachermom says:

    I wonder if it is a conflict of interest or outside of his actual duties for Thurmond to be involved in ANY negotiations??? His political actions would be fine if he were an ELECTED official but he is not. He is an employee just as I am. And as such he needs to be focused on the business of educating students. I am really outraged that we got this politician instead of an EDUCATOR and he is blatantly trying to grease the wheels for this board that failed those who elected it. I don’t think any lawmakers or representatives at the state or federal level should be meeting with him to hear his pleas for the board. He does not represent the voters in this county and should not be speaking to our legislators on behalf of our elected board. He needs to STAND DOWN and do his job, which he is being payed very nicely for.

  11. A question on DeKalb parents facebook page this morning
    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/dekalb-superintendent-negotiations-end-legal-battl/nWbNK/

    Is it possible for Thurmond to convince the DeKalb delegation to mandate a special election? Not sure that this is constitutional but if the BOE agrees not to raise the issue, could they sit for election at the next election (which is either this summer or November).

  12. Chamblee Dad says:

    I think much of this turns on whether you perceive this to be an effort directed more at the board itself, or the system as a whole. As Thrumond said early on: defend the board = defend the system. I do not think that he was right. In fact,in many ways they almost seem to be mutually exclusive.
    I do wish they would be removed, at least in part, by resignation of the ones the population seem to agree are the heart of the problem – Walker, SCW & Cunningham, perhaps Edler. Interesting to see Speaks & McMahan so high on the list, especially above Cunningham. I take that to mean that many who want him gone listed Walker 1st.
    But I know that’s never going to happen. So if Jester goes to get them all, even though I voted for her, I think is only way, for now. It is clear governor action easiest, but constitutional? I guess we’ll see on Friday.

  13. dekalbite2 says:

    Thurmond has had enough time trying to save the Board members’ jobs. He needs to concentrate on the 99,000 students he is responsible for. Email him and ask him to do his job which is to improve student achievement and manage taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively. That was what I asked him to do.

  14. concerned citizen says:

    Does anyone know how to contact Thurmond by e-mail, phone, fax, etc.?

  15. It’s on the right-hand side of the opening page of DeKalb School Watch.

Comments are closed.