(AJC) — Three state senators warned Thursday they will file a federal lawsuit if lawmakers approve a proposal that gives the governor the power to remove and replace all the members of Atlanta’s troubled school board. Sens. Vince Fort, Horacena Tate and Donzella James, all Democrats representing parts of Atlanta, said they consulted with lawyers who told them of “substantial” legal problems with Senate Bill 79, which is slated for a House vote Monday. Among the problems, they said, is that it grants Gov. Nathan Deal power to sweep out the full board retroactively, to when the nine members were elected in Atlanta in November 2009. Fort said the bill violates the federal Voting Rights Act, which deals in part with preventing the nullification of votes by minorities. ”It would be ripe for a lawsuit” if SB 79 moves ahead, he said. Still, the senators acknowledge the proposal includes recognition of the federal law by requiring federal Justice Department clearance on any action Deal could take.
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