Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Wednesday that will allow him to remove board members of school systems that are in danger of losing accreditation. He's preparing to act on the bill if the Atlanta Public Schools do not regain full accreditation by July 1.
That includes seeking approval from the U.S. Justice Department to act on the bill.
Speaking before the Atlanta Press Club, Deal said Atlanta’s dysfunctional school board has brought discredit to both the state and the state capitol. An accreditation body placed the school system on probation after a cheating scandal led to board infighting.
Deal says he hopes he won’t have to act.
“This is not something I would relish having to use, that power," he told a packed crowd of journalists and political figures. "It is my utmost hope that the board will regain accreditation, that it will not be necessary for any interference in duly elected members of a school board.”
Supporters of the measure say the whole state would suffer economically if the Atlanta School system loses accreditation. Deal said the situation could hurt Atlanta’s ability to recruit companies.
The bill covers not only Atlanta, but any school system in Georgia that could lose accreditation. Warren and Coffee Counties currently face that prospect.
"It is a tool that has been proven to be effective with regard to other systems in our state. Unfortunately the legislation that was used in those interventions was not applicable to Atlanta so new legislation was necessary,” Deal said.