Sentance survives ― again

August 11, 2017
Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Michael Sentance has survived another Alabama Board of Education meeting.

For at least the third time in his 11-month tenure as the state superintendent of education, Sentance entered a board meeting on Thursday with his future in doubt. He walked away with his title intact after a conciliatory statement that he read to board members.

Following Sentance’s brief statement, school board vice-president Stephanie Bell asked for discussion, and then, seeing none, called for an adjournment. Board member Mary Scott Hunter – a Sentance supporter – attempted to speak but was cut off by Bell and the vote to adjourn.

It was an odd close to a highly-anticipated board meeting – one in which a majority of board members appeared ready beforehand to terminate Sentance and educators around the state were eager to see the outcome of a vote to repeal the state’s College and Career Ready Standards.

Neither happened. Sentance remained without a vote and the standards, which critics have linked to Common Core, were never mentioned.

“What a weird, weird meeting,” said a longtime state educator.

However, Sentance hasn’t necessarily escaped danger. As the Montgomery Advertiser has reported, by conducting an evaluation of Sentance, the board activated a clause in his contract which allows him “a reasonable time” to correct any problems noted in a poor evaluation.

How that language is defined would likely be up to attorneys and a court, if the matter reaches that point, but it does appear to place some responsibility on Sentance for correcting issues board members raised in his evaluation.

Regardless, it would appear that Sentance, who told the board that he has made mistakes and that he would work to correct them, will have an opportunity to hang around for another year. His contract runs through December 2018, at which time the board will have to vote to either renew it or go in a different direction.

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