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More DeKalb school board members seek reinstatement
by Bridgette Bonner
May 01, 2013 09:29 AM | 2930 views | 1 1 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former DeKalb County school board members Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, Donna Edler and Sarah Copelin-Wood followed the lead of their counterpart, Pamela Speaks, and asked Gov. Nathan Deal for the opportunity to continue serving on the board.

The four were among six board members to be removed following findings of fiscal mismanagement which resulted in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placing the district on probation.

Edler petitioned that she has a constitutional right to retain the office to which she was elected, adding the State Board failed to make any particular findings to place the district on accredited probation.

In his letter to the governor, Cunningham said he was in his second term, both times having been elected by more than 60 percent by about 20,000 constituents.

He said he feels allegiance to not only the students in the district, but also to those constituents, and it was the voice of the 20,000 telling him to apply for reinstatement that influenced his decision to do so, he said.

“I asked my constituents for feedback, and the majority said they wanted me to reapply,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said the state requires the suspended board members to reapply in order for the governor to reinstate them, regardless of outcomes of the ongoing investigation.

“If I don’t reapply, I lose all rights as a board member,” he said. “The law is set, and if you don’t send the letter (asking the governor for reinstatement), it’s over.”

As Cunningham and his five counterparts await their fate from an administrative judge, he said it makes sense for him to represent the people who elected him and try to regain his spot on the board.

“Everything is on hold until the judge makes a decision, and that’s not a fast process,” he said.

Press Secretary for Deal, Stephanie Mayfield, said the governor has yet to respond to the school board members.

Cunningham told Deal in his letter that he is a native of DeKalb County, graduate of the district schools and father of four district school children. Because of his ties to the area, he views himself as an asset to the board, he wrote.

Copelin-Wood argued her continued service is likely to help the school district retain its accreditation.

Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond, in a district-wide email, urged DeKalb County School District employees to commit to moving forward and focus on academic achievement and integrity.

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