Important District Update about Lawsuit which Impacts Every Cobb Taxpayer

Important Update

The Cobb County School District is disappointed to learn the Cobb County Board of Elections has entered a settlement agreement with a group of national political interest groups, allowing those groups considerable and inappropriate influence to interfere with the lawfully established election posts of members of the Cobb County Board of Education. 

As Cobb County parents, staff, and taxpayers are aware, one of the District’s repeated goals is keeping politics out of Cobb’s schools, the education of its students, and the employment of its educators and other staff. The District regrettably believes the Board of Elections’ decision to settle this lawsuit, instead of fighting for Cobb’s taxpayers, will significantly affect that goal. 

This lawsuit relates to school board member election posts. Following the last census, the District redrew its recommendations for election posts. 

To ensure the Cobb County Board of Education’s requested maps were consistent with Georgia and federal law, the Board hired a national expert to draw recommended maps, inviting input from all members of the Board of Education. After the Board made its recommendations, they were also reviewed by attorneys employed by the State of Georgia, and then approved by the Georgia General Assembly and Governor Brian Kemp. 

After the new Board of Education election posts were legally approved by the General Assembly and Governor, one Cobb County parent, a college professor, and two recently graduated former students joined several national political advocacy groups and filed a lawsuit in Federal court against the Cobb County Board of Elections, claiming the approved maps violated federal law. Unlike a board of education, a board of elections is a county-level politically appointed body charged with overseeing election procedures and processes. 

The lawsuit included dozens of false allegations against the Cobb County School District and members of the Cobb County Board of Education, including the allegation that the Board purposefully designed the post maps to racially discriminate. The lawsuit also alleged the Cobb County Board of Elections was violating federal law by allowing school board elections to use these legally approved board member posts. 

The Board of Elections stated it was not in a position to challenge these claims as it had no role in creating or modifying school board election posts and was solely responsible for enforcing the posts as approved by the General Assembly and Governor. As a result, the District was forced to intervene in the lawsuit, requesting the United States District Court dismiss it. 

On July 18th, United States District Court Judge Ross dismissed all claims in the lawsuit relating to the District, finding plaintiffs provided no evidence of their allegations of racial discrimination by members of the Board or the District. While the Court dismissed the lawsuit against the District, it did not dismiss the Board of Elections.

 On October 12th, in a politically divided decision, the District learned the Board of Elections decided to settle the lawsuit with the plaintiffs, essentially granting plaintiffs much of the influence they requested in the lawsuit. This includes an expectation the Federal court will pressure the General Assembly and Governor to revise school board member election posts in a manner desired by the plaintiffs. If the General Assembly and Governor do not do so, the settlement requests Judge Ross do so. The settlement states the Board of Elections decided to settle with the plaintiffs as it was less expensive than continuing to defend the lawsuit. 

Again, this is particularly disappointing given the Court’s ruling that plaintiffs provided no evidence of any discriminatory intent or practice by members of the Board of Education or the District in redrawing the board of education posts, which is the basis of the plaintiffs’ lawsuit. 

Despite the Board of Elections agreeing to this settlement, the District does not agree with the Election Board - it is not “less expensive” to allow national political activist groups and local political activists to influence school board member election posts. It is the duty of elected officials to defend against frivolous lawsuits, whether they believe those lawsuits may benefit their political party or not.

We will continue to insulate our students and schools from inappropriate political influence and agendas. 

We will continue to meet your expectations to provide all Cobb students with an education consistently recognized as the best in Georgia and one of the best in the nation. 

We will continue to ensure that the local voice, not the political agendas of others, protects the commitments, investments, and interests of Cobb’s parents, taxpayers, citizens, and employees.