Shirley responds to state criticism

Published 6:53 pm Monday, January 13, 2014

After several failed attempts to reach Selma Superintendent of Education Gerald Shirley for a response to the State Superintendent of Education’s critical comments about the local board, Shirley broke his silence Friday on the issue.

Following the November release of a state investigation, which exposed several issues within the Selma City Schools district, the state asked local school officials to put together a corrective action plan. The Selma City School board has created and approved the plan, but their lack of communication about the plan after their approval generated harsh comments from State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice expressing his rustration with the way city schools have handled the corrective action.

“We sent them a letter last September outlining some very troubling allegations and sent them a follow-up letter in November requesting for more clarification on some issues and we haven’t gotten a response yet,” Bice told WSFA Thursday following a state board of education work session.

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Shirley, who was informed of Bice’s statements, sent an email to the Times-Journal responding to Bice’s comments regarding the corrective action plan.

“The first progress report update of the Selma City Schools Corrective Action Plan is due to the Alabama State Department of Education no later than March 15, 2014,” Shirley wrote. “The plan’s committee members are gathering data for this report.  The attached letter from the State Superintendent of Education does not coincide with the statements made to the media, WSFA Channel 12, on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2014.”

While the future leadership of the Selma City School System remains in doubt, school board attorney Katy Campbell offered insight on what a state takeover would mean for the local system.

“What usually happens when the state takes over a school district [is] they would send in assistance for the school,” Campbell said. “For example, they would send someone to work with the financial officer, or the superintendent, or wherever they feel there is a need. The state does not come in and actually run the schools.”

She said in the event the state does take over, local school leaders within the school system would still keep their job positions and the authority that comes with that position.

Bice declined to comment when contacted by the Times-Journal Monday.