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Suspended school leaders call for hearing

In just a matter of weeks, three suspended Selma City School System employees will be attending hearings that could determine their future employment status with the school system.

Suspended Selma Superintendent of Education Gerald Shirley, curriculum coordinator Wanda McCall and testing coordinator Mamie Solomon will have the chance in June to defend their positions in the Selma City School system at hearings in Montgomery. During the hearing they will have the opportunity to challenge acting Selma Superintendent of Education Larry DiChiara’s recommendation to have them terminated from their positions with the city school system.

“The three individuals [suspended employees] will have the chance to choose if [the hearings] will be opened or closed [to the public],” DiChiara said.

DiChiara said the hearings are scheduled to begin Monday, June 9 at the Gordon Persons Building in Montgomery, with McCall’s hearing first. Solomon’s hearing is set for Wednesday, June 11, while Shirley’s hearing will be Friday, June 13.

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tommy Bice has the responsibility of choosing who will serve on the 3-member panel set to hear the cases between the state intervention team and each suspended administrator.

“The other thing that we are kind of waiting on at this point is if they have any other witnesses they would like to subpoena,” DiChiara said. “They are to get that list to us, and we will help to secure those people to attend.”

DiChiara said he believes the intervention team will construct a list of witnesses to defend his recommendation.

During the hearing, the Alabama Department of Education’s intervention team, which is led by DiChiara and will be represented by council, will have the chance to make their case as to why the recommendation was made. Shirley, Solomon and McCall will also have a chance to present their case in their own individual hearings.

Once both parties have presented in front of the panel, the panel will hand down their ruling. At that point, Bice will have the discretion to either accept or reject the panel’s recommendation.

If both the hearing panel and Bice approve DiChiara’s recommendation, the terminated administrators would have the right to appeal.

If they appeal, Bice would then contact the Alabama Bar Association, who would submit the name of five retired judges. From that list, the parties would select one who would then read through the transcripts of the previous hearings and supporting documents and then render a decision.

If the employees are still opposed to the decision, they could then seek a final appeal through the Court of Civil Appeals.

The state intervention team has the same rights as the suspended employees. Therefore, they have the right to present their case to an upper level if Dichiara’s recommendation is denied.

The decision to put Shirley, McCall and Solomon on administrative leave came in mid-Febraury after the State Department of Education began their intervention of the Selma City School System.

The state board’s unanimous vote to take over the Selma City School System came in February as a result of lengthy state investigation that revealed evidence of inappropriate sexual behavior, failure to enforce graduation requirement policies and a general disregard for instructional time.