After 12 months of limbo, the Montgomery County school board has gotten court-authorized approval to hire an interim superintendent within 30 days and a permanent superintendent by May 30.
The system went under state intervention in January 2017 and has not had a superintendent since Margaret Allen retired last summer. Former state superintendent Mike Sentence gave Reggie Eggleston the duties of the superintendent after Allen stepped down..
The Alabama Education Association filed suit last September, essentially on the grounds that Sentance over-stepped his authority and failed to adhere to applicable law in his intervention efforts. The suit resulted in a mediation agreement accepted by the Montgomery board on Jan. 5, 2018.
Under the agreement, the intervention remains in place. However, the state must present a written intervention plan by Jan. 26. Among other things this plan must detail the role of both the board and system employees in day-to-day administration. Once an interim is in place, Eggleston will continue to have an office in the Montgomery central office, but will only be the “point person” for the state intervention and not involved in operational decisions.
The agreement was welcome news to all but one member of the Montgomery board. Former teacher Lesa Keith did not vote to accept it.
I spoke to several board members, all of whom are pleased with this step. “At least we may finally know who is on first,” one said. “The last year has been a nightmare with too many cooks in the kitchen and power taken away from the people elected to run the school system.”
Under the agreement, the Montgomery mayor “shall be permitted to offer advice and input into the selection of the interim and permanent superintendent.”
Several board members have questioned this since they view Mayor Todd Strange as more an adversary than an ally of the public school system. Just this week, Strange announced that he wants to convert a number of existing schools to charter schools.
Indications are that the board will move quickly to put an interim superintendent in place.