Gov. Nathan Deal met with black leaders of the Georgia NAACP, black state lawmakers and other activists Monday to discuss his removal of six members of the DeKalb County school board.
Edward DuBose, president of the Georgia NAACP, and members of the Legislative Black Caucus held a news conference after the meeting, which lasted just over an hour.
The groups said they're concerned about the governor having power to remove any elected official from office. Deal suspended the six school board members over accusations of financial mismanagement and other allegations.
"Our message to the governor was clear that we believe that the right of the people to choose their elected officials should never be tampered with," said DuBose.
The DeKalb County School District was placed on probation in December by its accrediting agency.
A panel appointed by Deal is expected to interview several school board replacement candidates Monday as it works to narrow down its list of applicants from 400 to 12.
"We're not speaking on whether the school board members deserve to be replaced or not," said DuBose. "That's not the issue. The issue is whether a governor should act like a dictator, whether a governor should have the single power to remove someone that was elected by the people."
Black leaders said they are consulting their legal counsel to determine their next step.
"The governor also had one final point to make and his point was, and I quote, 'Find some good black people to run for office,'" said Marcus Coleman of the National Action Network. "Here's a message to the governor: You don't dictate who is good and who is bad as far as who we choose for our leaders."
Deal said in a statement that he had a tough decision to make and wanted what is best for the students of DeKalb County. He called the children "innocent bystanders" as adults squabble. The governor pointed out that voters will get to elect seven new board members in 2014.
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