DeKalb School Board passes deficit reduction plan - Dallas News |

DeKalb School Board passes deficit reduction plan

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The embattled DeKalb County School Board met on Monday, and unanimously passed a deficit reduction plan before going behind closed doors. Board members are in the hot seat following an accreditation agency placing the district on probation.

The plan passed by the board on Monday will reduce $14 million in debt over the next four years.

The deficit is one of the items Southern Association of Colleges and Schools informed DeKalb it must address by February 28. Governor Nathan Deal announced on Monday that he will sign an executive order accepting the unanimous recommendation by the state Board of Education to suspend six of the nine members of the DeKalb County School Board.

Former DeKalb County School Board Chairman Eugene Walker -- one of those recommended for removal -- said, "I am extremely disappointed. I thought the governor would have more appreciation for the democratic process. No laws have been broken by board members. This is politically driven."

Another DeKalb County School Board member facing removal, Nancy Jester School board member Nancy Jester, who says she was a budget whistleblower for SACS, had initially indicated that she would step down if the governor removed her. She now says she has second thoughts.

"I am certainly willing to step down. My fear is that if one person does it but other -- you know, others don't, then you just leave your constituents without their voice that they elected you to. So I'm the voice that's never -- I've never voted to hire an attorney to take any litigation steps because that's just against one of my principles for kids and taxpayers, Jester said.

Other board members also slated for removal are Jay Cunningham, Donna Elder, Pamela Speaks and Sarah Copelin-Wood.

A federal judge has already issued a temporary restraining order preventing any new board members from taking office until after two court hearings later this week.

Some parents who have watched the events unfold are hoping for a compromise.

"I am working with very diligently to try to come up with a solution that accomplishes three goals. And those three goals are to remove the six board members that have been recommended for suspension, to protect the voting rights of the DeKalb County citizens, and to eliminate the need for legal proceedings on this matter," concerned parent  Jennifer Hatfield.

Many parents tell FOX 5 they are ready for a fresh start with the board, and at the same time they want the county out of the court system.

The board met behind closed doors for most of the morning to discuss an unrelated legal matter. The DeKalb County School District has set up a website to keep parents and the community informed regarding the SACS probation and review. It can be accessed by clicking here.

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