By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
At a special called work session on Thursday, the Montgomery County Board of Education acknowledged publicly for the first time that the Alabama State Department of Education has informed Montgomery school officials that it intends to take over their system.
During the hour-long meeting, school system attorney Vernetta Perkins did most of the talking, as she laid out what a state intervention means for the system and what administrators, teachers and students could expect.
“The state has informed us of its intentions to intervene in Montgomery,” Perkins said to the board. “Once they come in, (state superintendent Michael Sentance) will have complete control. You all (the Montgomery board) will no longer be in control of anything.”
With a Power Point presentation detailing important sections of state law on a screen in front of the board, Perkins went through the details, laying out step by step what the process should or will look like and what the board’s role in it might be.
Among other things, she told the board that once the state board of education passes its resolution to intervene in Montgomery – a move that is expected to occur at the state department’s January meeting – MPS officials will have 21 days to respond to that resolution with either reasons for why it shouldn’t occur or by offering a plan of action for the board and Sentance to consider.
“Notice it says you ‘may’ submit a response,” Perkins said. “That means you don’t have to, and there is nothing that says they have to listen to anything you say.”
In addition to Perkins’ presentation, board members also prepared a list of questions they plan to present to Sentance during a meeting expected to be held on Monday. However, two of the questions have already been answered.
Board member Mary Briers said Sentance told a group of MPS board members that the intervention would not include donations or resources from the Eli Broad Foundation – an organization that promotes the use of Common Core standards – and that the intervention would not include a means for “mayoral control” of the system. Some board members and others within the MPS system have been unhappy with Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange’s input and influence over the intervention.
Overall, the majority of Montgomery’s board members – despite relinquishing complete control of the system – said they welcome the intervention and hope it helps.
“Right now, we just want to make sure we do what’s right for our children in this system,” board president Robert Porterfield said. “That’s our main concern and as long as we’re working towards that, I think we can all accept whatever takes place.”