In a press conference that lasted nearly 30 minutes Monday, Feb. 18, Baldwin County superintendent Eddie Tyler, school board chairman Cecil Christenberry and attorney Don Beebe explained in detail why the county filed suit against state superintendent Eric Mackey last Friday.
At the center of this controversy is the intention of the city of Gulf Shores to start its own school system this summer. Negotiations between Baldwin County schools and Gulf Shores reached an impasse months ago.
Enter new state superintendent Eric Mackey, who the county contends has attempted to force his own agreement on them, rather than making a wholehearted effort to mediate. The matter came to a head when Mackey concocted his final agreement and demanded that it be executed by both parties by Feb. 15.
However, the county firmly believes that the Mackey’s arrangement will financially harm the county system and that he has overstepped his authority.
You can see the press conference here.
Here are highlights:
Tyler: Why should county tax payers be on the hook for startup costs for the Gulf Shores system? They knew what the law was when they started down this path. Their decision is not the county’s financial obligation. Any effort by the state superintendent to make the county pay would set a new precedent in Alabama.
Mackey’s last communication with Baldwin County appeared to contain a threat that Alabama code gives him the authority to remove Tyler from office. However, Mackey told AL.com “any scenario involving him removing Superintendent Eddie Tyler is ‘very bizarre.'”
Beebe: While Mackey is trying to clarify his statements about Tyler, his own order says he WILL TAKE ACTION–not might TAKE ACTION. He is way outside his authority by threatening to bring charges against Eddie Tyler for being insubordinate. Can you imagine in this state that if you exercise your right to appeal you are being insubordinate?
We will rely on the law–not Dr. Mackey.
Beebe also referred to an attorney hired by the state saying there would be “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” if Baldwin County refused to agree to Mackey’s agreement. Beebe considered this a threat and definitely not something the state superintendent should be engaged in.
Beebe: We are not weeping and wailing and gnashing our teeth. We’re going to court to determine what the law is.
Christenberry: We (the school board) read Mackey’s letter and it was a threat. For Dr. Mackey to say “I don’t mean that” is too little, too late. We’ll go by what he wrote, not what he now says.
At the ripe old age of 76, I’ve been around the block just a few times. Certainly long enough that I can recognize CHILDISH behavior when I see it. And this is it. That’s all you can call the actions of a state superintendent that get him sued by a local school system