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School Board elections get green light

Special photo
A Federal judge approved a new district map for the Clayton County Board of Education on Thursday. The districts are represented by Pam Adamson (District 1, bottom blue area), Wanda Smith (District 2, pink area), Jessie Goree (District 3, yellow area), Michael King (District 4, top green area), Ophelia Burroughs (District 5, central purple area), Mary Baker (District 6, central turquoise area), Trinia Garrett (District 7, top gray area), Alieka Anderson (District 8, top brown area) and Charlton Bivins (District 9, orange area).

Special photo A Federal judge approved a new district map for the Clayton County Board of Education on Thursday. The districts are represented by Pam Adamson (District 1, bottom blue area), Wanda Smith (District 2, pink area), Jessie Goree (District 3, yellow area), Michael King (District 4, top green area), Ophelia Burroughs (District 5, central purple area), Mary Baker (District 6, central turquoise area), Trinia Garrett (District 7, top gray area), Alieka Anderson (District 8, top brown area) and Charlton Bivins (District 9, orange area).

ATLANTA — A federal judge gave the final okay Thursday for a new Clayton County Board of Education district map that alleviates the worry of school board members that their elections this year could face legal challenges because they were based on outdated census data.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pannell, Jr., set the new map which is based on 2010 census data during a hearing convened to hear any legal challenges to the new district lines. No one came to the hearing to oppose the map.

“It is my belief that since there were no petitions to intervene it means there are no objections so the court will adopt this map without objection,” Pannell said.

The election for five school board seats will appear on the Nov. 6 General Election. Qualifying for the election will take place from July 30 through Aug. 3 at noon at the Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration Office in Jonesboro.

The judge’s decision wrapped up months of wrangling over a reapportioned district map for the school board which has five seats up for election this year. The issue reached the federal courts last month but school board members and Clayton County legislators have been accusing each other for months of dropping the ball on getting a map approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

The school board approved a map in January but it was never introduced as legislation for state approval. State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale) accused school system officials in March of not properly filing the paperwork needed to introduce the map for legislative approval. Abdul-Salaam is the chairman of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation.

Attorneys for the school board and the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office declined to assign blame for it taking a federal judge to sort out the issue. Pannell did point a finger, however.

“The body that left you in the lurch here is the General Assembly — the local delegation in Clayton County really,” the judge said.