Interpreting the law can be tricky business. Especially when you are highlighting things you like, while ignoring things you don’t like.
Which is what Bryan Taylor, Governor Ivey’s legal counsel, is doing.
Last week Taylor fired off a letter to the state school board saying if they followed through with plans to have a called meeting on Aug. 23, they might be subject to a legal challenge.
Here is what we wrote about what he did.
This prompted a reply from Montgomery attorney Lewis Gillis, who is the state board’s outside counsel. (Why does the board have outside counsel when there are at least five attorneys on staff at ALSDE? Because three of the five are the subject of a law suit brought by Craig Pouncey after he was discredited by a smear campaign last summer during the state superintendent search. Also, an internal investigation by ALSDE concluded that these three, along with former interim superintendent Phillip Cleveland and board member Mary Scott Hunter, worked in collusion to harm Pouncey. This report has now been turned over to the Attorney General.)
Gillis was thorough in his response to Taylor and countered his arguments well, even pointing out that he totally mis-represented the outcome of a legal case cited.
However, in spite of the advice of their own lawyer, the board decided to cancel the Aug. 23 board meeting.
(Mike Sentance sent an email to all board members on Aug. 22 which says in part, “…it has always seemed to me that the responsibility is to act cautiously and without undue risk to Board members.” Wow. The same guy who has refused to communicate with the board and has done all he can to bypass them, the same guy who got an Attorney General’s opinion saying that the board can not ask him questions about how he is spending money on the Montgomery school intervention is now trying to make sure they have no risk. Are you kidding me?)
And here is where it gets tricky for the governor’s lawyer.
If he is so concerned about the state board not adhering to the letter of the law in code section 16, why has he not brought up Section 16-4-1? Here is the entire section: It pertains to the statutory requirements that must be met by anyone selected as state superintendent.
Appointment; qualifications; salary.
As the chief executive officer of the State Department of Education there shall be a State Superintendent of Education, who shall be appointed by the State Board of Education and shall serve at the pleasure of the State Board of Education; provided, however that the State Board of Education may enter into a contract with the State Superintendent of Education for his services for a period not to exceed four years.
The Superintendent of Education shall be a person of good moral character, with academic and professional education equivalent to graduation from a standard university or college, who is knowledgeable in school administration and has training and experience sufficient to qualify him to perform the duties of his office.
The salary of the State Superintendent of Education shall be such amount per annum as shall be set by the State Board of Education in an amount within the range now or hereafter established by law, to be paid in installments from the annual appropriation of the State Department of Education.
Mike Sentance.does not meet these qualifications because he is clearly NOT knowledgeable in school administration and has no training and experience sufficient to qualify him to hold this office. NONE. ZERO. He has no formal training to be an educator. He does not have credentials to be hired in Alabama as a teacher, principal or local superintendent. Bus driver? Yes. Custodian? Yes. Secretary? Yes. But nothing else.
There are nearly 400 employees of ALSDE. The K 12 budget for Alabama exceeds $4 billion. But you can not find ANYTHING on his resume’ that remotely says he has ever been the boss of so many people or the overseer of so much money.
Lawyer Taylor, does this law not count? Is it not legal? Is it OK to just pick and choose which laws you want to follow and discard those you don’t care about?