State school board members' superintendent evaluations released - Montgomery Alabama news.

State school board members' superintendent evaluations released

Tuesday's evaluation meeting. (Source: WSFA 12 News) Tuesday's evaluation meeting. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Several days have passed since members of the Alabama State Board of Education evaluated new state Superintendent Michael Sentence's job performance. We know they collectively gave his performance less than glowing marks, but what we haven't seen until now are the individual evaluation reports.

That changed Thursday with documents turned over by the ALSDE in an open records request. 

Seven evaluations were provided, despite there being nine board members. The discrepancy is due to Gov. Kay Ivey, the de facto president of the board, not providing an evaluation since she was not present. Board member Mary Scott Hunter, who was present, did not submit an evaluation.

"I chose not to submit because I did not want to confer legitimacy on an illegitimate and unfair process," Hunter said. 

Yvette Richardson, Jackie Zeigler, Ella Bell, Cynthia McCarty, Betty Peters, Jeff Newman, and Stephanie Bell all submitted evaluations, which were based on a 1 to 3 scale, 1 meaning 'Needs Improvement', 2 meaning 'Proficient', and 3 meaning 'Exceptional'.

Stephanie Bell, the board vice president, called for the evaluations, stating Sentance has been in the position for almost a year and the timing was right for a performance review. Her evaluation awarded Sentance a 1 across the board except for two criteria, which she marked through.

Bell was critical of the superintendent's performance in most every respect, writing in her evaluation that he "does not inform" about implementing policies, has "poor communication" with monthly reports and informing the board on laws and regulations. She said she sees "numerous problems" when it comes to providing supervision, evaluation, or professional growth of personnel, and said Sentance's establishment of goals for improving student achievement is "very limited".

Bell goes on to mark as "none/neglected" the portion of the evaluation regarding Sentance's financial management in seeking funding for school systems and said he has "no apparent involvement" when it comes to modeling positive community involvement.

[READ Stephanie Bell's evaluation]

Betty Peters' evaluation sits in stark contrast to Bell's, marking every portion as 'exceptional'. Peters took issue not with Sentance, but with the evaluation, noting her concern about both the timing of the evaluation and the board meeting and writing that she filled it out "under duress".

"I find the rush to complete the evaluation a little strange," Peters wrote, noting the short tenure of the superintendent. "It seems unfair and imprudent that we keep the timeline outlined by the vice-chair [Stephanie Bell]. To put it in everyday school terms, it's sort of like forcing students to take a final exam before the teacher covers all the material that will be tested."

[READ Betty Peters' evaluation]

Ella Bell's evaluation was similar to Stephanie Bell's with multiple indications of needing improvement, though she afforded Sentance a proficient score on eight points including informing the board about significant events, laws and regulations, and on his ability to write and speak clearly and correctly.

Bell did not provide any written comments in her evaluation. 

[READ Ella Bell's evaluation]

[READ Jeff Newman's evaluation]

[READ Jackie Zeigler's evaluation]

Yvette Richardson said she saw the evaluations as a follow up to a meeting the board had in March and added when it comes to Sentance she still has "concerns."

[READ Yvette Richardson's evaluation]

Cynthia McCarty's evaluation involved fractions. Instead of simple 1, 2 or 3 on the report, she gave Sentance grades of 1.5 (implementing policies) and 2.2 (informing the board of laws and regulations) and 1.25 (establishing effective interpersonal relations).

McCarty provided the most detailed notes of any on the board.

[READ Cynthia McCarty's evaluation] 

The board can terminate the state superintendent at any time. It only takes a majority vote.

Below is the finalized evaluation report on Superintendent Sentance.

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