Not only is state school board member Mary Scott Hunter engrossed in a run for the state senate in Huntsville, she faces a very tough decision before her election on June 5.
The state school board is now beginning a search for a new state superintendent. It is being handled by a national search firm, Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, IA. The deadline for applications was March 23. At this point no one knows how many people applied or who they are. This will be made public later in the process.
However, we do know that Jefferson County superintendent Craig Pouncey has applied. He was also an applicant in 2016 when the state board bewildered Alabama educators by hiring Mike Sentance from Massachusetts.
As we all know this process was controversial and then some. So much so that a legislative committee held hearings trying to determine what transpired. The state department of education, at the direction of Sentance, conducted an internal investigation that concluded things took place that raised serous questions about the process.
Hunter was very much in the middle of all of this. So much so that Pouncey brought civil action in February 2017 against her, three ALSDE staff attorneys and the interim state superintendent at that time. This is in the court of Judge Roman Shauls in Montgomery. He has dismissed the interim superintendent and two of the staff attorneys. However, Hunter and one attorney were not dismissed and the case is still pending.
Which brings us to the quandary Hunter finds herself in.
As things now stand, if Pouncey is selected as one of the finalists to be interviewed by the state school board, then Hunter is interviewing someone who is suing her.
Attorneys I have talked to about this matter consider this to be a definite conflict of interest. And it might open the door for even more legal action, about the last thing we need.
At this moment it appears the ball is certainly in Hunter’s court so to speak. And considering that she is seeking another office and this is a political hot potato, the rational thing for her to do is to recuse herself from the entire search process.
After suffering though all that transpired with the Sentance hire, the last thing we need is another process that carries even a hint of being anything but impartial.