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Activists vow to fight Deal in DeKalb schools case

By Stan Washington Senior Writer | 3/15/2013, noon
A coalition of black state lawmakers and civil rights leaders are vowing to continue their fight against Gov. Nathan Deal ...
NAACP President Edward Dubose

Deal, who met with coalition members earlier this week, also was accused of making what some consider “racially insensitive remarks” at the end of the hour-long meeting.

“He said and I quote: ‘Find some good black people to run for office,’ ” said Marcus Coleman, president of the National Action Network’s Atlanta chapter. “I have a message for the governor: You don't dictate who is good or who is bad when it comes to choosing our leaders.”

In response, Robinson said the governor wasn't being racially insensitive. “He said just to make sure they have some good African American candidates who can represent the people of DeKalb on the school board.”

Unless the Georgia Supreme Court reverses Deal’s action, the six newly appointed school board members – five of whom are black – would serve in office until an election is held next year, officials said.

The Republican governor removed the six members – five black Democrats and one white female Republican after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) placed the school board on probation on governance issues in November 2012.

The state board of education later recommended to Deal that six of the members be removed. The other three were elected late last year.

During a heated discussion with state lawmakers Tuesday night, SACS president Mark Elgart said he believes Deal acted too quickly in removing and replacing board members.

“We believe at least six months, preferably a year, be granted, let the process work,” Elgart said.

Deal said, however, that speedy action was required to save the district.

“This is not a show-me proposition, this is a get to work, do the important things that we need to do to fully restore accreditation so that the deserving young people in this school system will not in any way be affected by the consequences of adult actions,” Deal said.

Deal’s action represents the first time the governor has successfully used the state law that empowers him to remove members of any school board facing a loss of accreditation.