By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—According to several members who were present at the most recent meeting of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS), an association that represents School Administrators across the State, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard threatened certain State School Superintendents.
On September, 22, Speaker Hubbard was in attendance at the CLAS board meeting to give a legislative update to the groups Board of Directors. At the meeting according to CLAS board member Bobby Jackson, Hubbard was confronted about the Alabama Accountability Act.
Earlier this year, 30 Superintendents of Alabama’s 136 school systems filed an Amicus Brief with the court, in support of a lawsuit claiming the Alabama Accountability Act is unconstitutional.
According to several members present, Hubbard was confounded by Dr. Dee Fowler, Superintendent of Madison City Schools, “And he [Hubbard] kinda got a little offended,” said Jackson.
Fowler, one of the Superintendents who signed the Amicus Brief, was then threatened by Hubbard, according to several members present. “He told Dee he and the others [who signed the brief] would regret what they had done,” according to Jackson, “it got heated.”
It was relayed that Fowler had questioned why the State Legislature passed the Accountability Act without input from educators or administrators, and why they had passed an act that violated the State Constitution to which Hubbard replied, “The Legislature makes it own rules.”
In May, Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Gene Reese declared the law unconstitutional, saying the Act violated a provision of the State constitution requiring that each piece of legislation cover only one content topic.
The 30 Superintendents who agreed with Judge Reese were the targets of Hubbard’s threats.
The bill was passed with a legislative slight-of -hand, changing the simple School Flexibility Act into a complex taxpayer funded tax-credit for private schools.
“Now. I want to make one thing clear: This is Bobby Jackson, speaking, I’m not representing one or anything else. In my opinion, the original 9 pages of the bill was a good thing. But, when they added the 18 pages to it, that was a bad move.”
Even State School Superintendent Tommy Bice protested against the bill, even as the Republican supermajority rammed it though the House and Senate.
The Accountability Act with its Scholarship Granting Organizations has been a windfall for groups like the one headed by former Gov. Bob Riley, who heads the Opportunity Scholarship Fund and receives 5 percent of all money collected. Riley’s groups have amassed around $25 million and counting.
Hubbard, Riley, along with Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh have continued to defend the Act, even in the face of the court’s findings. The constitutionality of the Act will be decided by the State’s Supreme Court perhaps later this year.
Hubbard, who is known for his threats and bullying behavior was said to have left the CLAS Board meeting, “in a huff.”
Dr. Fowler elected not to comment on the events surrounding the meeting.