Once again state superintendent Mike Sentance and his crew at the Alabama Department of Education (ALSDE) have put their ineptness on public display. This time they can’t get their stories straight about what is going on with the Selma City school system.
The state intervened in Selma in February 2014 and superintendent Tommy Bice dispatched former Phenix City superintendent Larry DiChiara and a team to Selma to straighten things out. But by the spring of 2015 Bice felt things were under control to the point that the Selma City school board could again take over.
However, the state did not remove the intervention status.
Angela Mangum was hired at the new superintendent in March 2015 and given a three-year contract.
After Bice left in the spring of 2016, DiChiara had conversations with several people about Selma, including interim state superintendent Phillip Cleveland. He later sat down with new superintendent Mike Sentance who told him he knew nothing about Selma. He also met with senior level officials of ALSDE, and at their request, gave them recommendations on what to do in both Selma and Montgomery. To his surprise he learned that ALSDE did not even know Selma was still under intervention.
Things recently came to a head with the firing of Mangum and the state once again got concerned.
And this is where the tales get tangled.
According to this story in The Selma Times-Journal they received a statement from ALSDE that stated:
“There is a concern that these abrupt changes will have a negative impact on the progress of the Selma City School System. The ALSDE has a primary focus of providing an educational environment for students that is conducive to teaching and learning,” the statement reads. “Since the initial intervention, the ALSDE has continuously monitored Selma’s schools. The ALSDE will work to ensure that any transition of governance is seamless and in no way erodes the academic achievement of the students in the Selma City School System.”
However Mike Sentance told the state school board last week at their monthly meeting just the opposite. He said ALSDE has not monitored Selma since April 2015. Here is the video of the board meeting. Go to the one hour, 35 minute point to listen to Sentance’s statement.
And now according to the most recent article in the Times-Journal the state is again trying to figure out which tale is accurate.
And these are the same folks who have already spent $1.2 million for consultants to intervene in Montgomery. The same folks who gave 10 percent raises to the principals of the 27 WORST performing schools in Montgomery while ignoring good principals?
It’s little wonder that every time I talk to a legislator they want to know, “What the hell is going on at ALSDE?” They are not the only ones wondering.