New State Superintendent Hire Has License Suspended By Massachusetts State Bar

Maybe this should be under the heading, when it rains, it pours.

Many are aware by now that Michael Sentence, the newly-hired state school superintendent hired on Aug. 11, is an attorney–not an educator.

But according to this article in the Alabama Political Reporter, he can not practice law because he is designated under “administrative suspension” by the state bar in Massachusetts.

OK, what’s the big deal since he apparently no longer does any lawyering?

Every teacher in Alabama has to keep their teaching certificate current.  Every administrator has to continue getting new professional development credits to keep their job.  What kind of example is the new state superintendent setting with his own personal actions?

But the real message in this revelation is that once again, we see that the state school board, especially the five members who voted to hire Sentence, did not do their job of conducting a proper background check on this candidate.  If someone says they are an attorney, one of the first things you do is check with the proper bar association to get their status.  It’s hard to believe that this was done in this instance.  Surely someone would have raised this issue had it been known.

Just like the issue of Sentence applying for the top job in Alabama in 2011 and no one on the SBOE asking him about it.  Five of the current board members, plus the governor, were on the SBOE five years ago. Did any of them remember that he applied then and did not get an interview.  Why was he not asked, “Why do you believe you are more qualified to lead Alabama today than you were in 2011 since  your resume’ has not changed since then?”  Did anyone properly “vet” Sentence and bring it to the board’s attention?

Board member Mary Scott Hunter says that the resume’ of Sentence “grew on her.”  So why what she impressed now and not five years ago?

Clearly the state school board did not do their job of due diligence in this case.  This is especially true of the five who voted for Sentence (Matt Brown, Betty Peters, Stephanie Bell, Mary Scott Hunter, Governor Bentley).

Instead of gaining confidence in the state school board’s decision to hire Sentence, all we have are more and more unanswered questions.  With the primary one being, is a state school board that is so ill-prepared to do its job really doing what is best for our 740,000 public school students?

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