City school board holds vote to remove Shirley

Published 10:52 pm Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Selma City School Board threatened superintendent Gerald Shirley's job Thursday when President Henry Hicks asked for Shirley's termination. --Jay Sowers

The Selma City School Board threatened superintendent Gerald Shirley’s job Thursday when President Henry Hicks asked for Shirley’s termination. –Jay Sowers


By Sarah Robinson and Josh Bergeron

The Selma Times-Journal

Email newsletter signup


Selma City Schools superintendent Gerald Shirley’s job was threatened Thursday night during the board’s monthly meeting.

Selma City School Board president Henry Hicks proposed superintendent Gerald Shirley’s termination from his position with the school system, because Shirley  failed to insure that the system operated under the guidelines of federal, state and local laws, policies and procedures.

Board members Frank Chestnut Jr., Dr. Kirit Chapatwalla and Brenda Randolph-Obomanu abstained, while Udo Ufomadu voted in support of Hick’s recommendation.

“The point is that the superintendent doesn’t take any disciplinary action and he doesn’t bring anything to the board,” Ufomadu said after the meeting. “His actions affect the kids and it affects the city. If he doesn’t want to bring anything before the board, then he needs to step aside.”

A scathing investigation by the Alabama Department of Education, launched in June in response to allegations of sexual misconduct, found “evidence of non-compliance with requirements, standards and protocols governing instructional activities, standardized testing, graduation requirements and other state and federal guidelines.”

The school board was subsequently required to submit a corrective action plan to fix misconduct. The board approved the plan during the meeting, but Ufomadu said the way Shirley has dealt with a scathing Alabama Department of Education investigation is a primary reason for Shirley’s termination.

Hicks agreed with Ufomadu’s assessment in a prepared letter to the school board. Hicks and Ufomadu were the only votes against the plan’s passage.

“As president of the Selma City School Board, I have great concern because Mr. Shirley has not complied with the state department of education mandates as set in the investigation report and he has not brought any actions to the board for us to act upon,” Hicks wrote in the letter. “Furthermore, during Mr. Shirley’s tenure as superintendent, he has demonstrated a disturbing pattern of violating the policies and procedures of this board and the state.”

According to the letter, Shirley is responsible for actions or a lack of actions that placed the school board at grave risk.

The letter states the Shirley increased the salary of Phoenix Alternative Program Principal Michael Bowers without board approval. The letter also accused Shirley of telling the board that a $3 million School Improvement Grant was a hoax and sending emails to board members discouraging acceptance of the grant.

The letter also says Shirley changed the high school scheduling system from block scheduling to an eight periods schedule without board authorization.

In the letter, Hicks says he offered Shirley a chance to resign after presenting the findings. After Shirley refused to resign, Hicks said he was forced to recommend the termination, according to the letter.

After the meeting, Hicks said he won’t continue pursuing Shirley’s resignation, but will try to work with him to ensure the school system improves.

“There is no need in trying to pursue it, because we only got two votes for it,” Hicks said. “If they come back and say that they are going to change their mind, then we will bring it back up. Maybe this might have been a wake up call for him to realize that he can lose his job.”

The Times-Journal contacted Shirley for comment following Thursday’s meeting, but he declined.