Gov. Nathan Deal named six new members of the DeKalb County school board Wednesday. The move comes a week after he exercised a relatively new state law to oust six elected members over accusations of financial mismanagement.
The six new members include two college professors, a businessman and a planning manager.
A nominating panel chose them from a pool of 400 applicants.
The new members include four men and two women. Their racial makeup mirrors that of the ousted board members. And Deal said that’s not by accident.
But he said the top priority is that they work together with the rest of the board.
“I have implored them to work together cooperatively, that they understand the importance of reaching consensus on very important issues from time to time," he said during the press conference. "I don’t want governing to be a problem.”
The move comes after an accrediting agency put the board on probation for governance problems. The state school board has been holding hearings for months about how to resolve the issue.
Critics of the process say no one should have the power to remove duly-elected school board members.
Rep. Howard Mosby, an Atlanta Democrat, says the news brings no guarantees.
“They are highly qualified individuals who have a lot of expertise but does that mean they are going to be able to come together and make this thing happen? I don’t know," he said in an interview. "I hope so, but I don’t know.”
Fellow Atlanta Democrat Scott Holcomb attended Deal's press conference. He said he can understand why some have criticized the process. But he said while he has misgivings about it in general, he supports the move at this point in time.
"We needed new blood on the board," he said. "I didn't have confidence that those who caused these problems could fix these problems."
Deal described his participating as hands-off in the actual selection. He said the panel chose the new members, and he approved their selection. Holcomb says that's accurate.
The new members are: John Coleman, a strategic planning manager at Invesco; Michael Irwin, a professor at Georgia Gwinnett College; David Campbell, a senior manager with Georgia Power; Joyce Morley, a mediator who serves on several local and national boards; Karen Carter, chair of the business and social science department at Georgia Perimeter College; and Thaddeus Mayfield, a senior partner at a business development firm.
DeKalb County is the state's third-largest school district. The system faces a possible loss of accreditation, which prompted the governor to intervene.
Other school boards around the state worry that Gov. Deal could use the new state law to remove some of their members.