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Court hears lawsuit today on DeKalb school board removal | Education

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Court hears lawsuit today on DeKalb school board removal

ATLANTA -- A federal court will hear arguments today on whether Governor Deal can remove DeKalb school board members from office.

RELATED | NAACP accuses Governor of racism over DeKalb School Board suspensions

The Governor wants them out, the Georgia Board of Education wants them out and most of their constituents say it's time to go, but six DeKalb County School Board members refuse to step down.

MORE | Continuing coverage of DeKalb school issues

In fact, they continue to use taxpayer money to fight their suspensions, handed down by Governor Nathan Deal (R-Georgia) on Monday.

Fallout from the controversy has already produced some new legislation in the Georgia General Assembly.

State Representative Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) has introduced a bill that would keep suspended or removed officials from using taxpayer dollars to try to win their jobs back.

Some DeKalb County Democratic lawmakers have signed on as well.

"I had to sign the bill based on my concern about the use of taxpayer money to protect their own political office," State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) told 11 Alive News on Tuesday.

"I don't believe that's right; I don't believe my constituents think that's right," she added.

State Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) believes the removal law is unconstitutional since it overrules the wishes of voters.

He said taxpayer dollars should be used to defend public officials accused of something they did while on the job.

"If they are being removed, if they are going through this litigious situation because of their membership on the board, then I think that we have some responsibility as taxpayers to absorb those costs," Mitchell told 11 Alive.

Mitchell believes cutting off those public defense funds could discourage people from running for office.

The controversy has also sparked a constitutional amendment that would allow newly formed cities to break away from the DeKalb County School System and create their own.

State Representative Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) believes DeKalb's academic probation, which led to the removals, is driving off potential new businesses and companies.

"When they ask about the school system, how's that? You're on probation? Well, let's go somewhere else then, and so it's really hurting the economic engine, the perimeter area, in North DeKalb", he told 11 Alive.

Since this year's legislative session is more than half way over, both proposals will probably have to wait until next year.

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County school board remains in limbo thanks to the ousted members' challenge of the law.

A federal judge has ordered the six suspended members not to take any official action, as well as any replacements soon to be chosen.

That leaves three remaining members who can't act either because the law requires a quorum of five.