Court: Perdue should not have removed school board members

ATLANTA – Former Gov. Sonny Perdue did not have the authority to remove from office three members of the Warren County Board of Education, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled.

The court unanimously reversed a Fulton County court decision and ruled that state law grants the governor authority to remove members of any “board, commission, or authority” created by statute who have violated the state’s code of ethics law. However, “county school boards are creations of the Constitution,” Justice P. Harris Hines writes in today’s opinion.

“While appellees argue that administrative removal of members of constitutionally created boards, commissions and authorities is a wise policy that is consistent with our Constitution, the wisdom of such a policy is not the issue,” the opinion says. “The General Assembly has simply not pursued such an avenue in [Official Code of Georgia] §45-10-3 and §45-10-4” – the statutes that establish a State Code of Ethics for boards, commissions and authorities, and provide a method for the governor to remove members if they violate that code.

A group of citizens in April 2010 asked Perdue to remove three of the Warren County school board’s members – Clara Roberts, Cecil Brown and Charles Culver – from office, saying they put the Warren County School System’s accreditation in jeopardy. A year earlier, the parent company of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – an accrediting agency – started an investigation into the school system for violations of its standards for “governance and leadership.”

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