Decision reversed in Grizzle case
by Staff Report
Mar 09, 2011 | 1999 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Associated Press reported yesterday that a federal appeals court reversed the judge's decision that blocked Georgia elections officials from enforcing a nepotism law.

The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that found the judge erred when it barred Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office from enforcing the law which bans the immediate family of school administrators from running for election to a local school board.

The court concluded that the two school board officials who filed the lawsuit -- Bartow County Board of Education Chairman Lamar Grizzle and former Gainesville City Board of Education member Kelvin Simmons --did not have enough evidence to justify the court order.

Grizzle and Simmons filed on Jan. 11, 2010, in the U.S. District Court in Rome, a suit contending that provisions created under Georgia Code 20-2-51(c) are unconstitutional. It named Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state election board and the County Executive Committee of the Bartow County Republican Party as defendants.

Under 20-2-51(c), which was established under Georgia House Bill 251, passed last year by the state General Assembly, "No person who has an immediate family member sitting on a local board of education or serving as the local school superintendent or as a principal, assistant principal, or system administrative staff in the local school system shall be eligible to serve as a member of such local board of education." Immediate family is defined as "a spouse, child, sibling, or parent or the spouse of a child, sibling, or parent."

According to the suit, Simmons, who had served on the Gainesville School Board since 1991, was disqualified for running for re-election last November because of the new law as his wife is an assistant principal at Gainesville Middle School.

Grizzle's daughter, Kimberly Ruff, was named assistant principal of Pine Log Elementary in March 2006, a position she still holds, and according to the new law, he would be disqualified from running for re-election. However, an order issued by U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy allowed Lamar Grizzle to qualify for the July primary, which he lost. Other qualified individuals who may be impacted by the law were allowed to run for any other school board position in Georgia as part of the injunction.