Breaking News: Judge sustains suspensions of two former DeKalb school board members

From On Common Ground News:

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that chief administrative law Judge Maxwell Woods has sustained the suspensions of two DeKalb County school board members who petitioned for their reinstatement earlier this year.

Woods ruled that both Sarah Copelin-Woods and Pamela Speaks failed to show that their presence on the DeKalb school board would improve the ability of the local school system to retain or re-attain its accreditation, as required by O.C.G.A Section 20-2-73.

The rulings in the cases of two other suspended board members who petitioned for reinstatement will be determined at a later date.

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16 Responses to Breaking News: Judge sustains suspensions of two former DeKalb school board members

  1. dsw2contributor says:

    Does this mean that they are cut-off, or do they continue to receive paychecks until the end of their elected term?

  2. Stan Jester says:

    Pam Speaks Hearing
    I have cut up the various segments of Pam Speaks’ hearing and uploaded them to YouTube. Speaks, Ramona Tyson and Elgart were the only ones to testify. Here’s the playlist

    Summary of Hearing
    During the hearing, Dr. Speaks argued her case well. Her case was that nothing in the SACS report referred to her. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the question at hand. As Judge Wood stated, the question at hand was “would their presence on the DeKalb school board improve the ability of the local school system to retain or re-attain its accreditation”.

    I’m baffled as to why these hearings went through the rigmarole of arguing over the SACS report. Each hearing could have been handled in 5 minutes. Swear Elgart in and then ask him if he is more likely to accredit DeKalb Schools with or without that board member.


  3. We’re pretty sure this is the end of the gravy train for them… Nancy Jester stopped getting paid when her resignation was finally accepted.

  4. howdy1942 says:

    Governor Deal must first accept the recommendations of Judge Woods and concur before the decisions could take effect. In response to Stan, with whom I agree on most issues, I think that there are some things that could have been said to enhance each candidate’s probability of reinstatement. For example, each candidate could have acknowledged the shortcomings cited by SACS and presented his/her plan for satisfying each action item. This might have included a pledge to work directly with the superintendent and avoid direct contact with employees of the District. Another might have been to attend meetings of other Board members with their respective districts to gain insight to their concerns and work to bring harmony and unity to the Board’s discussions. A third might have been to work directly with SACS and understand their concerns and the basis for each and avoid trying to learn who said what. I think that what SACS is saying is to work through the superintendent and if the superintendent chooses to include employees of the district in his/her discussions with the board, that would be acceptable. My involvement with SACS in reviews in which I have been involved clearly makes the point that individuals were never cited as being either right or in violation of its standards – SACS addressed the broad organization. I think SACS could have provided a wealth of information about its findings had the DCSS just asked.

    Judge Woods doesn’t care in the least whether an individual board member’s constituency loved him/her nor does Judge Woods care what an individual board member may or may not have done that might have contributed or not contributed to the findings of SACS. That seems to have been what these five board members wanted to talk about. Clearly, they misunderstood what was expected or simply did not ask. Personally, I think that Governor Deal would really risk all of what he has done if he chooses to reinstate some board members and not do so for others.

    The real decision will be the one made by the Georgia Supreme Court. If it rules for Walker, then the others would be included by extension. As I’ve said before, such a decision would be catastrophic for Dekalb County. Who would be the “real” board? Would SACS be willing to extend probation beyond December 18, 2013, because it clearly sees the failed board as main problem in the District? What actions would/could the State take to ameliorate the impact of potential loss of accreditation on our students? Frankly, it’s hard to believe that the State of Georgia would allow the third largest school district in the State to collapse with the loss of accreditation. I would suspect that to some degree, the State would initiate “supervision” of the DCSS in the short term and the Governor would make a number of proposals to the Legislature to address the long-term situation. With the problems that the Atlanta Public School District is having and the nationwide negative publicity it has brought and with the same likely nationwide press in the case of chaos in the DCSS, the economic impact on this State would be very significant.

    On a sad, but more positive note, property values in Dekalb County have dropped so low that they may become attractive to some potential buyers with the understanding that they would send their children to private schools. The savings in real estate costs could be applied to private school costs. Would you say that is positive or sad?

  5. Tim McGaughey says:

    I feel for Dr. Speaks. She has been an excellent public servant. The SACS report finds nothing wrong with her actions. She bravely opposed many of the Board decisions that are so troubling.

    It is too bad that she was swept away with the Board members who truly deserved their suspensions.

    Tim McGaughey

  6. Beverly Fraud says:

    So we specifically wrote the law to leave it in the hands of an unelected, unaccountable Markie Mark Elgart who (according the the AJC) ACTIVELY CONSPIRED with Kasim Reed to reinstate as APS board chair, a woman, Lachandra Butler-Burks, who worked with Beverly Hall to hide evidence in the CRCT cheating scandal?

    Ethically challenged, anyone?

    Are we not, in the process of getting rid of Boss Hogg (aka Eugene Walker) ceding power to Darth Vader? Does this serve DCSS in the long run? Perhaps, but ONLY if DCSS takes the now feasible option of getting their accreditation from GAC, an organization that does NOT (unlike SACS) have a track record of putting politics and business interests ahead of children.

  7. The savings in real estate costs could be applied to private school costs. Would you say that is positive or sad?

    I would propose that it’s by design.

  8. The DA has dropped murder charges against Andrea Sneiderman.

    How long before they drop charges for Lewis and Pope? Haven’t they passed some kind of deadline for a speedy trial?

  9. James is a terrible DA. Two seasoned prosecutors left Dekalb just as James decided to prosecute Sneiderman. Dekalb leadership: Lewis, Ellis, and now James. Dekalb is in a woeful state.

  10. Under the law, the basis for Judge Wood’s — and Deal’s — decision must be whether each school board member is “more likely than not” to improve the school system’s ability to regain full accreditation.

    According to Deal’s office, Judge Wood ruled that Copelin-Wood and Speaks “failed to show that their presence on the DeKalb school board would improve the ability of the local school system to retain or re-attain its accreditation.”

    The governor’s office has released no recommendations yet in the other cases — for Eugene Walker, Jesse “Jay” Cunningham and Donna Edler.

    Deal’s decisions may not matter in the long run. Walker has a lawsuit before the Georgia Supreme Court that contends the law used by the governor to suspend him is unconstitutional. A ruling is expected by fall. If the court strikes down the law, then all the suspended board members could be back in their seats.

  11. concerned citizen says:

    Boss Hogg is a great name for a duplicitous, lying racist, who has done everything possible to make the schools in DeKalb unacceptable to all but the indifferent and those who have no means of sending their children to private schools. Even then, thanks to the misdeeds and unspeakable greed of BH, MJ, and Interim T, Lewis, Tyson, et al, there are pockets put there with family and friends staffing them where a family “might” be able to get their children in. But, if you live in the Towers area, good-bye hope and education; let’s all talk about the marvelous Simpson, common thief of public funds and what a winner he is. BTW, he’s going to have to invest in a new wardrobe at Towers – don’t know if he’s considered that yet. But, he’s a real clothes horse, and he is not used to dark suits, white shirts, and neckties, and dress shoes. He’s into pastel sweater vests like lilac, pin-striped shirts color-coordinated in lilac, faux Italian pointy-toed shoes, and of course lilac bow ties – he has tons of this stuff. It’s worth going to work to see his outfits! I know the working-class neighborhood will enjoy themselves. What a year it’s going to be, thanks to you – Mr. Interim Super Jerk.

  12. howdy1942 says:

    Your comments are right on the mark! How much money, time, and resources has Dekalb County poured into that Sneiderman case? And what do we have to show for it? The DA has dropped the murder charges and there are only a couple of other relatively minor charges that he is pursuing. Why not just drop the whole thing and let’s get to the Lewis/Pope case. However, I think that there is a lot of pressure from the same power structure that led us into this mess to delay this trial as long as possible. One key witness has already died.

    Long ago, I speculated that Lewis/Pope would never be convicted in Dekalb County. I’d love to see this trial moved to another County so that we could get some degree of objectivity. Does anybody else remember – the Board did not terminate Lewis or Pope. Pope was allowed to work out her contract and there is no telling how much Lewis got to leave – we all know that he got over $100,000 to fund his legal costs. One more example of the incompetence and malfeasance of the previous board.

  13. The board that allowed Lewis to resign was not the board that the Governor dismissed. Board members at the time of Lewis’ dismissal included: Tom Bowen, Paul Womack, Zepora Roberts, Don McChesney and Jim Redovian. The only overlapping members of the ‘fired’ board were Gene Walker, Pam Speaks, Jay Cunningham and Sarah Copelin-Wood.

  14. Another comment says:

    Robert James didn’t want to have the national media see what a joke he is as a DA. He didn’t want them to see he only won because he is black. Not because he is competent. So he thought dropping the top charges the National Media, HLN, and Nancy Grace and crew would drop the coverage. Well surprise, surprise, they had it scheduled in so they are going to cover the Black Widow trial and go with the Racism issue. They were plugging Friday, that only a wealthy white woman who lived in a $800K house and had a lake house could hire the lawyers who could get the charges dropped. This wouldn’t happen to a black women. Another case of race in the criminal justice system. So Ellis’s plan backfired. He is going to end up on National TV anyways.

  15. Robert James won the election to be DeKalb County’s District Attorney only because he ran unopposed.

  16. So…. After all this time, and many MANY declarations of Andrea Sneiderman’s ‘guilt’, our DA has dropped murder charges and is going after her on charges of …. (drumroll please)… Perjury!

    So, using that analogy, the DA will probably end up charging Lewis with stealing a tank of gas!

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