Gov. Deal suspends Dooly county school board members

Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday suspended all five members of the Dooly County school board, after an independent organization threatened the school district’s accreditation over “governance” issues.

Georgia law gives the governor the authority to remove such locally-elected school board members when their districts are at risk of losing accreditation.

“These suspensions are necessary to begin work to ensure that Dooly County School System will keep its accreditation,” Deal’s office said Monday.

The 1,500-student system in Middle Georgia has been roiled by controversy since at least last year, when the Dooly board faced complaints that its members were meddling in schools, a cardinal sin according to accreditation organization AdvancED.

The state board of education gave the local district a year to address the complaints. Then, in a hearing on Nov. 3, when AdvanceED CEO Mark Elgart testified that the Dooly board had not addressed his group’s concerns, the state board recommended that Deal suspend the local board members.

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Deal has used this authority previously, removing two-thirds of the DeKalb County school board in 2013, when they also ran afoul of AdvancED.

Then, as now, Deal appointed a panel to find replacement board members. The panel in Dooly’s case will comprise: Helen Rice, a state education board member and teacher living in LaGrange; State Rep. Patty Bentley, D-Butler; William “W.T.” Henry Sr., a retired private school headmaster and former state education board member living in Albany; Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus; Gregory McClendon, retired FBI special agent who and founder and pastor of Christ Chapel Unadilla; and Hobby Stripling Sr., the mayor of Vienna.

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