Five of the six new members of the DeKalb County school board were sworn in Wednesday afternoon, only hours after their appointments was announced by Gov. Nathan Deal.
The sixth was out of town for the swearing-in ceremony, which was rushed up so the troubled school district would have enough members to meet.
At an 11 a.m. press conference, Deal announced that was naming John Coleman to the District 1 seat, Joyce Morley to District 7, Karen Carter to District 8, David Campbell to District 5, Thad Mayfield toDistrict 9 and Michael Erwin to District 3.
Morley was out of town and unable to attend the ceremony, officials said.
Deal said he fully expects the new board members to work to rebuild the district’s reputation and accreditation.
“I do not want governing to be a problem, and I have no reason to believe it will be with the group I have selected,” the governor told reporters at the late morning press conference.
He said the racial make-up of the new board members is the same as that of the six they are replacing — five blacks and one white.
About 400 people applied to fill vacancies on the school board.
The vacancies were created when the State Board of Education recommended and the governor agreed that six of DeKalb’s nine school boards should be removed for jeopardizing the school district’s accreditation.
The three board members who remained had only been serving since January.
School board chairman Melvin Johnson, a retired DeKalb schools administrator, said he hadn’t met most of the appointees, but was looking forward to working them – and right away.
“We need to set up a meeting as soon as possible,” Johnson said. He expects to call a formal board meeting sometime next week.
Faye Andresen, a longtime parent activist, didn’t recognize most of the names on Deal’s list, but said it was essential for the community to back the new board. “If the people of DeKalb County refuse to accept this board, I don’t know where we go from there,” Andresen said. “Put grandma on top of the car and leave.”
Interim superintendent Michael Thurmond said he was familiar with the new board members’ names but didn’t know any of them.
“It’s an impressive group of men and women,” he said.
He’s hoping to hold a school board meeting early next week.
“There is business that needs to be conducted,” Thurmond said.
Mark Elgart, president of AdvancED, the parent organization of the accrediting agency SACS, applauded the governor’s swift action.
“He’s done better than one would have thought,” he said. “It really got everybody’s focus.”
A nominating committee pared the list down to 63 semi-finalists and ultimately presented about a dozen names to Deal, two for each seat.
“My charge to them is going to be to make sure they get the DeKalb County school board out of this jeopardy,” Deal said early Wednesday. “That should be the goal that all of us share.”
DeKalb was placed on probation by its accrediting agency late last year, citing mismanagement and infighting among the nine board members. The governor said he was wary of intervening, but took action because he feared metro Atlanta’s economy would suffer if he didn’t.
Kenneth Mason, the chair of the candidate nominating committee, said the group was “amazed by [the candidates] potential and … their collective experience.”
“And we hope this group can renew the sense of unity in DeKalb,” Mason said.
State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, said the new board members credentials seem outstanding.
“I’m very, very impressed. If you look at the qualifications of the people, everyone is pleased,” Millar said. “The racial makeup is maintained and now we have to move forward.”
Several well-known applicants were among the 63 candidates the panel interviewed. Among them are former state School Superintendent Werner Rogers, ex-state House member Doug Teper and Kathleen Mathers, who led high-profile state test-cheating investigations.
Coleman is a strategic planning manager at Invesco. Previously, he held a variety of leadership roles at McKinsey & Company. He also serves on various nonprofit boards. Coleman has a master’s in Business Administration from Harvard and a master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. He resides in Atlanta.
Erwin is a U.S. Navy veteran and has been a research assistant at Duke University Medical Center and the University of South Carolina. He has worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Services and is past chair of the NOAA fisheries committees on fish species and fish diseases in Maine and South Carolina. In 2008, he earned a Ph.D. in Biological Science from the University of South Carolina. He has been a member of the faculty at Georgia Gwinnett College since 2009 and teaches undergraduate students in biological science. He graduated from North Carolina Central University with a bachelor’s in Biology and a master’s in Biological Science. Erwin resides in Decatur.
Campbell is a senior manager with Georgia Power, where he supports the company’s energy conservation efforts. He is a certified public accountant with managerial experience. Campbell received a degree in Business Administration from Albany State University. He is a former chair of Leadership DeKalb, a member of the DeKalb 100 Black Men and an active member of St. Phillips AME. He formerly served on the Stephenson High School Council and resides in Lithonia.
Morley is the chief executive officer of Morley and Associates and is a nationally known public speaker and trainer. She is a certified counselor, a trained mediator and serves on several local and national governance boards. Morley has a doctorate in Counseling, Family and Worklife from the University of Rochester. She received her specialist’s and master’s degrees in Counseling Education from the State University New York College at Brockport, and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the SUNY College at Genesco. A Stone Mountain resident, Morley has lived in DeKalb County for more than 22 years.
Carter serves on the faculty of Georgia Perimeter College where she is chair of the Business and Social Science department. She received a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications from Denison University and a law degree from Ohio State University. Carter has served as a classroom teacher and has held several senior administrative roles in the field of education. She is a graduate of Leadership DeKalb and is an active community volunteer and a PTSA member. Carter is a resident of the Lakeside Community.
Mayfield is a senior partner with FOCOM, Inc., a Georgia-based business development firm. He holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Mercer University and received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Tougaloo College. He co-chaired the successful Friends of DeKalb Education SPLOST IV Campaign and is an active member of several business and civic organizations in the metropolitan area. Mayfield is a resident of Lithonia.
AJC writers Ty Tagami and Nancy Badertscher contributed to this article.