At least in Georgia, poorly performing board of education members can be removed from office and replaced. So held the Georgia Supreme Court in a recent ruling upholding a 2010 law allowing for the removal and replacement of board members.
After the DeKalb County school district was placed on probation by an accreditation agency for issues of governance, the Georgia state board of education held hearings concerning the DeKalb County board of education, leading to a recommendation that six of the nine members of the board be suspended. In February 2013, the governor suspended the six members and named replacements.
One of the suspended board members filed suit over his removal and replacement. The matter eventually made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court which ruled unanimously to uphold the 2010 removal law, under which the DeKalb County board members were removed and replaced. In its decision, the Court held that public education was not only the business of local jurisdictions, but also that of the state as a whole. The court decision says that “although school systems are committed to the management and control of local boards of education, the state has a substantial interest in ensuring that those local boards function competently and in a manner that does not imperil the education or future prospects of students enrolled in the school systems.”
For board of education members in Georgia, they are now on notice that poor governance may not go unpunished. It remains to be seen as to whether other states will follow Georgia’s lead in enforcing good governance among its local school boards.