Gov. Nathan Deal sent a letter to an administrative law judge on Friday to ask him to oversee hearings for five ousted DeKalb County school board members who have asked for their jobs back.
The governor removed six members accused of poor leadership and budget mismanagement. The problems landed the district on probation with its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
"This is a fight about the legitimacy of the vote," said former school board chairman Gene Walker, who is asking for his job back and also suing the state. "This is a fight about civil rights."
In addition to Walker, former board members Pam Speaks, Jesse "Jay" Cunningham, Donna Edler and Sarah Copelin-Wood have sent letters to ask for reinstatement. Only Nancy Jester has resigned.
"Board members who are asking for reinstatement are putting their own selfish interests ahead of the needs of the children of the county," said Kirk Lunde, a member of Concerned Citizens for a Unified DeKalb.
The five members seeking their jobs back justified their requests to the governor for various reasons.
Cunningham wrote, I have a "proven track record of working with other board members ... I would be an asset."
Donna Edler's letter to the governor stated that she is "eligible and qualified to remain on the local board" and "it is just and right."
Walker said the people of DeKalb County elected him and it is the people who should have the final say on who sits on the school board.
The district has refused to continue paying Walker's legal fees. He told CBS Atlanta News that he has received contributions from a number of voters who support his fight.
"I know I'm on the right side of history," said Walker. "I know that the governor is violating the constitution."
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