Judge denies request from Atlanta school board candidate fighting to keep job if she wins race

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Judge denies request from Atlanta school board candidate fighting to keep job if she wins race

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ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Patreece Hutcherson, right, a candidate for the Atlanta Board of Education, snaps a selfie with a supporter during a meet and greet before an election forum in August. Hutcherson later filed a federal lawsuit against Atlanta Public Schools over a rule that would bar her from keeping her job at another metro school district should she win the election.  

Patreece Hutcherson will head into Tuesday’s election for a spot on the Atlanta Board of Education without the guarantee she sought from a judge: that if she wins her race she can keep her day job.

Hutcherson, a Douglas County high school guidance counselor who is running for the District 6 seat on the Atlanta school board, sued Atlanta Public Schools last month. She sought to overturn a rule in the district’s charter that blocks school board members from being employees of APS or any other local board of education. Hutcherson said she cannot afford to quit her job should she win the election; her suit contended the employment criteria was unjustified and unconstitutional.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross denied Hutcherson’s motion to bar enforcement of the job rule, finding that as a candidate Hutcherson “lacks standing at this time” to bring the suit because the rule “may only affect her if she is elected.”

“... [T]he particular activity in which plaintiff is engaged at this time is running as a candidate. The challenged provision does not bar her from doing so nor has she alleged a fear  of punishment or prosecution from running as a candidate,” the judge wrote.

An attorney for Hutcherson said he is “confident” that if she wins “the will of the voters will be heard and she will be able to take her seat on the board.”

“We will continue to work on Ms. Hutcherson's behalf to make sure that happens,” wrote Craig Goodmark, in a written statement.

Check out profiles of the Atlanta school board candidates in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s voter guide.

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