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Georgia Supreme Court Will Review Governor's Suspension of School Board Members

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones

The Georgia Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of a state law that allowed Gov. Nathan Deal to suspend six members of the Dekalb County school board, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. The suspensions followed a report from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that detailed mismanagement by the school board that oversees the third largest school system in Georgia. The accrediting agency placed the board on probation last December after releasing its findings.

Gov. Deal removed the six members in late February, prompting them to file a lawsuit. The case will be heard before the state's high court. The justices will have up to six months to determine the constitutionality of the board members' suspension.

A lawyer for the state argued in the Federal District Court that Georgia's constitution allowed the enactment of this law. The lawyer also argued that the board members received due process because they were notified of the steps to their removal and have recourse.

U.S. District Judge Richard Story had refused a request that would have allowed the suspended board members to continue serving in their positions until a final legal decision was made regarding the constitutionality of the state law. But, should the court rule against Deal, the suspended members could be restored.

It's uncommon for governors to have the authority to suspend elected officials. While several states have laws that allow for state takeover of failing districts, fewer allow governors to suspend elected school board members.

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