Bill would stop board from using public funds in legal fight - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Bill would stop DeKalb board from using public funds in legal fight

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ATLANTA -

A new bill at the state Capitol would block DeKalb County School Board members from using taxpayer money for a long legal battle to stay in office.

The measure, which has the backing of Republicans and Democrats in the State House, would stop school board members from using public dollars to pay for most legal challenges to their removal.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver joined a group of bipartisan co-sponsors in support of the bill.

"I had to sign the bill based on my concern about the use of taxpayer money to protect their own political office," Oliver said.  "I don't believe that is right. I don't believe that constituents think that's right."

Under the legislation, taxpayer funding for defense against school board removal would be limited to the hearing before the State Board of Education.

Last week, the State Board unanimously recommended that the governor remove six of nine DeKalb County School Board members, but a protracted legal battle could result as board members contest their removal in court.

Judges have scheduled court hearings for later this week on legal challenges to the removal of those school board members.

State Rep. Billy Mitchell opposes the cutoff in funds, calling it a slippery slope that could discourage public service.

"What are we trying to do, discourage them from either running for public office or we're just discouraging them for, once they have been accused whether falsely or not, to just give up and go pack and go home," Mitchell said.

The bill's sponsor hopes it will get a hearing soon at the state Capitol.

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