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Thursday, July 29, 2010 - 2:23pm

Judge Urges Removal of School Board Members

The judge reviewing the actions of three Warren County school board members has reached a verdict. He is recommending that Governor Perdue remove Clara Roberts, Cecil Brown and Charles Culver from office.

A group of Warren County residents took legal action against the trio after their alleged unprofessional behavior jeopardized the school system’s accreditation.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools planned to revoke the county’s accreditation at the end of July but the agency is re-evaluating its decision. If they do choose to drop Warren County Schools, it will be the second system in the U.S. to lose school accreditation in nearly four decades. The first came just two years ago in another Georgia district, Clayton County.

But, regardless of the SACS’ final outcome, the Court advises that the three still be removed from their seats. The judge says there is sufficient evidence that the board members’ actions “have breached the public trust and negatively impacted an entire community.” The citizen group requesting their removal says they violated district policies by governing on their own personal agendas.

Under Governor Perdue’s controversial new bill, the state has the power to step in when a local school system’s accreditation is threatened. This means the governor will have the final say in the case. The landmark legislation was passed this past May after two years of debate.

But attorney Brian Watkins who represents the three board members says the Governor should not have the power to intervene.

“I think it’s clearly unconstitutional under Georgia law," Watkins says. "We have filed a complaint with the Superior Court on this issue. My clients are constitutionally elected officers, just like the Governor.”

Governor Perdue has not yet made his decision.

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