An email that DeKalb County school board member Sarah Copelin-Wood sent to a principal in May crystallized for one of her judges what was wrong with the local culture.
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The story so far
Monday, Eugene Walker announced he would give up the board chairmanship, and the board voted to hire a law firm at $150,000 to review the school board’s “governance” and recommend changes.
Tuesday, the school district filed a suit to prevent Thursday’s hearing by the Georgia Board of Education. A 2011 state law allows the governor to remove boards in school systems on probation, if the state board recommends it. The suit challenges that law.
Wednesday, a judge denied the request to block the state board hearing but scheduled a hearing on DeKalb’s suit challenging the state law. The board selected a new chairman, Melvin Johnson, by a 7-2 vote.
Thursday, after a 14-hour hearing, the state board of education recommended that the governor remove six of nine DeKalb school board members from office.
Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to announce his decision whether to suspend six of the nine DeKalb school board members.
Tuesday, a hearing will be held at 10 a.m. in front of U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story on the DeKalb school district’s federal lawsuit to block school board members’ removal.
Thursday, a hearing is scheduled in Fulton County Superior Court. The DeKalb district will ask a judge to consider a restraining order against the state to prevent members’ removal.
Nancy T. Jester — District 1 (recommended for suspension)
Board member since 2011; Last elected 2010 with 55 percent of the vote
Job experience: actuarial consultant
Education: bachelor’s degree, economics, The University of Alaska, Fairbanks
District in north DeKalb includes Chamblee and Dunwoody high schools.
Marshall D. Orson — District 2 (Not recommended for suspension)
Board member since 2013; Won with 62 percent of the vote
Job experience: co-founder and partner of consulting firm Melbourne Partners; co-founder and partner, Devonwood Media; Turner Broadcasting, 1989 to 2001; attorney; law clerk.
Education: Law degree and bachelor’s degree, Duke University
District in Druid Hills area includes Cross Keys and Druid Hills high schools.
Sarah Copelin-Wood — District 3 (recommended for suspension)
Board member since 1999; Last elected 2010 with 51 percent of the vote
Education: student at Morris Brown College, working on bachelor’s degree.
District includes Avondale and Cedar Grove high schools
James L. “Jim” McMahan — District 4 (Not recommended for suspension)
Board member since 2013; won with 65 percent of the vote
Job experience: Dean Witter Reynolds Investment Firm, 1985; a short-options margin clerk and licensed, registered investment adviser, 17 years; mortgage professional starting 2002; Amstar Mortgage Network, Marietta
Education: Attended Georgia State University and Wofford College, South Carolina; received high school diploma from, Northside High School, Atlanta Public Schools, 1983.
District includes Lakeside and Tucker high schools.
Jesse Jay Cunningham Jr. — District 5 (recommended for suspension)
Board Member since 2007; Last elected in 2010 with 64 percent of the vote
Job experience: Spent 26 years at various levels of management, including district manager, McDonalds Corp.
Education: Attended Fort Valley State University; graduate of DeKalb County’s Walker High School (now McNair High)
District includes M.L. King Jr., Lithonia, Miller Grove and Southwest DeKalb high schools.
Melvin Johnson — District 6 (Not recommended for suspension)
Elected to the board in 2013; won with 66 percent of the vote
Job experience: Veteran educator with 37-plus years experience in DeKalb, retired 2004.
Education: Bachelor of Science, Fort Valley State; Masters of Education, Educational Specialist, Educational Doctorate, Atlanta University
District in the Stone Mountain area includes Stephenson and Stone Mountain high schools.
Donna G. Edler - District 7 (recommended for suspension)
Board Member since 2011; Last elected 2010 with 72 percent of the vote
Job experience: certified public accountant
Education: Master’s degree in business, University of Wisconsin; bachelor’s degree, accounting and business administration, University of Kansas.
District includes Columbia, Redan and Towers High Schools
Pamela A. Speaks - District 8 (recommended for suspension)
Board member since 2009; Last elected in 2012 with 52 percent of the vote
Job experience: Educator, DeKalb County School System, retired. Previously taught physical education, special education, Brookline and Boston, Mass.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Boston University; Master of Arts, Northeastern; Specialist in Education, Jacksonville State University; Doctorate in Education, Sarasota.
District in north DeKalb includes Stone Mountain and Tucker high schools.
Eugene Walker — District 9 (recommended for suspension)
Member of the board since 2008; Last elected in 2010 with 56 percent of the vote
Job experience: associate superintendent, administration of affirmative development, community and system services, DeKalb County School System, 1989; executive vice president, DeKalb Technical Institute, 1985-89; vice president, personnel and community relations, DeKalb College, 1981-85; professor of history, assistant football and basketball coach, Clark College, 1969; ;history and social studies teacher, head football and basketball coach, Drake High School, Thomaston, Ga., 1958-67.state senator, District 43, 1984 to 1992
Education: Ph.D. in history, Duke University, Durham, N.C., 1978; Masters of Art Degree in History, Atlanta University, 1969; Bachelor of Arts degree, Social Science, Clark College, Atlanta, 1958.
District includes Avondale, Cedar Grove, Columbia, Cross Keys, Druid Hills, M.L. King Jr., Miller Grove, Ronald MicNair Sr., Southwest DeKalb and Towers high schools