After the hearing, the state board could recommend that Gov. Nathan Deal suspend the DeKalb officials and appoint temporary members.
The nine DeKalb board members have been under threat of removal since a highly critical Dec. 17 report from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that pointed out mismanagement, declining student performance, financial discrepancies, nepotism and cronyism. It also accused some board members of intimidating school officials and administrators.
Lee denied the restraining order over a technicality. In a copy of the ruling obtained by CrossRoadsNews, Lee said "DeKalb failed to comply with a state law that requires five days notice to the state to suspend a hearing."
Lee left open the possibility of a future ruling that would block the board's removal and she scheduled a hearing for Feb. 28 at 8:30 a.m. At that hearing, the state will have to argue against granting DeKalb an order that blocks the governor from removing the DeKalb board.
The nine DeKalb board members learned of the judge's action Tuesday afternoon while attending a governance training session at the Georgia School Board Association's headquarters in Lawrenceville. They said the four-hour workshop is an attempt to remedy the governance issues raised in the SACS report.
"People think we're fighting to keep our jobs, " said member Sarah Copelin-Wood. "That's not it. We're fighting for the children. We're fighting to save accreditation for kids who have been accepted by colleges and don't need to have their educational plans disrupted."
Board member Jesse Cunningham said he believes the governance workshop demonstrated a good faith effort that will have a positive influence on the state board at Thursday's hearing.
"At the end of the day, regardless of what happens, we're moving forward. We still have accreditation and that's our number one concern for the kids of DeKalb County," Cunningham said. "We're continuing to do whatever needs to be done to maintain accreditation."
Outgoing board chairman Eugene Walker said he has not had a chance to discuss the judge's ruling in detail with the board's attorneys. He wouldn't speculate on whether the training session will favorably influence the state board, but said he believes the effort is creating a better board.
"We've embraced totally the 11 required actions from the SACS report," Walker said. "All we are doing is fighting to do the job we were elected to do. We're prepared to tell our story to whoever will listen. Whatever the judge requires us to do, we'll do."