By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—At least 30 school superintendents were on hand when the State Board of Education selected a Massachusetts education consultant to lead the Alabama Department of Education (ALSDE). On a 5 to 4 vote, “dark horse” candidate Michael Sentance won after several rounds of voting.
Over the last several years, Sentance has applied and has been rejected for similar positions in…
Many public school superintendents left the meeting in shock, questioning what prompted the Board to elect a man who is not an educator.
Trained as a lawyer, Sentance began his career in 1980, serving for one year as Legal Counsel for Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor, Thomas P. O’Neill, III.
Until August 1991, he held several positions within Massachusetts state government before become Undersecretary of Education, Policy & Planning, under then-Governor William Weld.
Eventually, he would rise in the ranks to lead a regional office in the United States Department of Education, from October 2001 to January 2009.
Those who handed Sentance the reins were Governor Robert Bentley, Matt Brown, Mary Scott Hunter, Betty Peters and Stephanie Bell.
Many educators have expressed confusion and even betrayal by Peters and Bell who made common-cause with Brown and Hunter to appoint Sentance.
According to individuals at the recent BCA conference, Hunter painted Sentence as an attractive candidate. According to those at ALSDE, Sentance had all but withdrawn from the process until Hunter moved to encourage him to stay in the race.
Several individuals have implicated Hunter in the smear campaign against Dr. Craig Pouncey.
Even after being savaged by a messy, political hatchet-job, Pouncey received four votes in the first round, only to lose to Sentance after those who had promised him their vote failed him.
At least two lawmakers have expressed a desire to see the entire process investigated, especially Mary Scott Hunter’s role in the anonymous letter sent to the Ethics Commission.
According to sources with direct knowledge, AFLA and BCA lobbied for the Board to select anyone but Pouncey, and it worked.
ALFA’s chief and two of his lobbyists were on hand at the proceeding.