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Gov. Deal fires back at civil rights leaders over DeKalb School Board

9:22 PM, Mar 12, 2013   |    comments
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  • Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal
  • DeKalb County School Board (suspended members highlighted)
  • Marcus Coleman of the National Action Network
  • State Senator Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur)
  • Georgia NAACP President Edward Dubose and other civil rights leaders after meeting with Governor Deal over DeKalb County School Board suspensions
    

ATLANTA --  Governor Nathan Deal (R-Georgia) announced Tuesday that he will name replacements Wednesday morning for 6 DeKalb County School Board members he suspended on February 25th.

His office also released a list of 60 possible candidates out of 403 that were interviewed by a special nomination panel since last Friday.

Deal acted under a 2011 law to remove the school board members after the DeKalb's accreditation was put on probation due to a "dysfunctional" board.

On Tuesday he also fired back at some civil rights leaders who've accused him of acting as a dictator with questionable racial intentions.

They met with him Monday to criticize his action as an unconstitutional disenfranchisement of DeKalb County voters.

"In an hour-and-a-half meeting I was very disappointed that not once did the group who met with me yesterday discuss the issue of accreditation," Deal said.

On Monday the group thanked the governor for meeting with them, but at least one questioned the governor's motives for telling them they could help him find good African-American school board candidates for the 2014 elections.

"That's a very insensitive statement; it's inflammatory and it's downright negative verbiage from the Governor of this state," said Marcus Coleman of the National Action Network.

Tuesday the governor fired back, accusing them of having only one thing on their minds instead of the academic futures of DeKalb's 99,000 students.

"I simply said to them that since race was the only issue they were concerned about that if they wanted to be helpful in the process, they should encourage qualified African-Americans to offer themselves for election in this process that will be starting next year," Deal said.

"The response that the governor gave, I did not find offensive at all," State Senator Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) told 11 Alive.

He was one of several members of the DeKalb County legislative delegation who also attended the Monday meeting.

He defended Deal's remarks.

"What the governor was trying to say is that it's incumbent on the community to find good people of color to run for these offices," Sen. Jones added.

Governor Deal also said he is working with lawmakers to try and rewrite the 2011 removal law, which many feel gives him too few alternatives.

He pointed out that accreditation only takes into account performance of school boards and not how well or how poorly a school system is performing academically.

"I think a broader scope of holding school board's accountable would include not just governance, but also would have an element of student achievement associated with it," Deal said.

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