MPS meeting gets heated over letter requesting state take over - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

MPS meeting gets heated over letter requesting state take over

Board member Mary Briers holds up the letter in question. Board member Mary Briers holds up the letter in question.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

At a special called meeting Friday of the Montgomery County Board of Education a draft of a letter was presented which called for the Alabama Board of Education to take over the Montgomery's public schools.

Read the draft of the letter here       

The letter was not revealed until the board voted on several "late add" agenda items including:

  • "School Boards Roles and Responsibilities" - Voted to be moved from "Consider for Approval ," to Receive as Information".
  • The Personnel Report - Approved 5-1 with Meadows voting "no"
  • The Continuous Improvement Plans (the original single item agenda) - Approved 6-0
  • The Race to the Top Grant - Approved 6-0 even though it required no vote.

When the voting was complete, Board Member Mary Briers presented material regarding the School Boards Roles and Responsibilities, Board Chairman Charlotte Meadows immediately moved to adjourn the meeting. When no other members seconded the adjournment, the meeting continued with the release by Briers of Meadows' letter.

The Board Roles and Responsibilities document included a bullet point stating:

"To ensure board members understand that, under law, the school board acts as a board and that individual board members have no independent authority."

Briers said she had been given Meadows' letter by "someone", though she would not identify that person.  

In the draft, Meadows asks the Alabama State Department of Education to go beyond their current investigation regarding alleged grade changes at some schools and "take over our school system."  

"It was not something that I intended to release at this time, however it is very much the sentiments that I feel," says Meadows.

The document states there is chaos, confusion and mistrust in the school system and something needs to be done to fix it--including a leadership overhaul.

"To appoint an interim superintendent to come in and review all of our procedures and policies and everything we do from the top down," adds Meadows.

Both Superintendent Barbara Thompson and Mary Briers say Meadows overstepped her boundaries as chairman and that she isn't allowed to ask for a state take over without board approval.

"There are individual rights and there are things you can do as a board," says Thompson.

"That was not protocol," adds Briers.

Meadows believes she is within her rights since she had no intention of revealing the letter publicly until the investigation into alleged grade changing at three Montgomery high schools is complete.

"I was expecting that to happen in the next couple weeks," says Meadows.

Meadows says the grade changing allegations are only the tip of the iceberg and a state take over could help resolve what she says are many other issues plaguing the system.

"When you add it all together...it's atrocious."

Meadows says she knows there are plenty of great things going on at MPS.

She believes the bad, though, casts a dark shadow saying "we need something really drastic" to turn the system around.

Copyright 2012  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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