State Supt. makes first comments about MPS after extending investigation

State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice
State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama state school superintendent is finally speaking publicly about Montgomery Public Schools. Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice talked to WSFA 12 News about a vote by the Montgomery school board to request a monitor from the state.

The Montgomery Public School System has been under the state's microscope in recent months after an investigation into grade changing at local high schools led to findings of what Dr. Bice calls "systemic problems".

"I was not expecting the action the Montgomery board took on Tuesday," Bice said. "I'm pleased that they did that." In the midst of an investigation, Dr.  Bice is surprised, but encouraged by MPS's move. " I use the term "encouraged", because at least they acknowledge that they need our help."

It's a 180 degree change in previous communication, Dr. Bice says. "I did find it interesting that the messaging changed pretty significantly from what the messaging had been the previous week about our involvement."

"We had sent them a letter back in August expressing our continued concerns from our extended investigation. They had responded. I was completing my review of that response and going to come back to them with our plan moving forward," Bice said. "So it's aligned with our intent that we would do that."

Dr. Bice says there has been only written communication between his office and Montgomery Public Schools since it was announced the state was extending its investigation. A private meeting Thursday afternoon was the first time the two parties sat down to discuss the concerns of the state and the needs of MPS.

In a statement released afterward, Dr. Bice called it a very productive meeting, saying "I shared areas in need of further clarification and my recommendations and expectations to address the problems identified within the system and the state's role moving forward."

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