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12 months ago

The Alabama State Board of Education’s Dubious Review of Michael Sentance

SBOE Member Stephanie Bell and State Superintendent Michael Sentance

As we predicted Saturday, yesterday’s meeting of the Alabama State Board of Education turned into a platform that may well have set the stage to oust Michael Sentance as State Superintendent of Education.

With a lopsided 6-2 vote, the SBOE accepted Sentence’s job evaluation forms that Board Member Stephanie Bell unilaterally requested last week. Only Mary Scott Hunter and Betty Peters, both Republicans, voted against accepting the evaluations, citing the lack of transparency and fairness.

On the lack of transparency front, the list is long, but a good starting point is with public comments. Virtually all Board of Education meetings provide for public comment on the agenda. This agenda did not.

Hunter, a practicing attorney, also engaged Bell about the fact that Bell demanded the evaluation without consulting other members and without a vote. The Alabama Administrative Code (Section 290-10-10) states that State Board actions have to be voted on, but no vote was taken on whether or not to conduct Sentance’s evaluation. Peters echoed those concerns, adding that in her long history on the Board, performance reviews have always been handled openly.

Another issue arose over Bell requesting the evaluations on email, rather than in a public forum. Board members were told to submit their evaluations to the board’s outside legal counsel, who compiled the results. When Peters and Hunter responded to Bell’s email with questions, they were told their questions would be answered at yesterday’s meeting. However, many of those questions remained unanswered, and when Hunter persisted, Bell gaveled her down on multiple occasions.

At some point in the meeting, Bell apparently grew weary of the scrutiny and called for an executive session so the public could no longer hear the discussions.

Hunter refused to participate telling Yellowhammer, “We owe it to the people of Alabama to be transparent in how we handle this matter. Unfortunately, nothing about this process has been transparent, and that’s the reason I refused to participate.”

Another issue was the method used to calculate the Superintendent’s evaluation score. Bell arbitrarily decided that because Hunter refused to submit a form, her evaluation of Sentance would be counted as a zero—on a scale of 1-3 scale—with “1” meaning “needs improvement,” a “2” meaning “proficient” and “3” meaning “exceptional.” Governor Ivey also declined to participate, but hers was not counted as a zero—it apparently wasn’t counted at all.

Hunter and Peters asked what divisor was used to tally individual scores. Attorneys for the Board answered that the number 8 was used for every score, even though there are nine members of the board, including Ivey. Since two of those members didn’t participate (Ivey and Hunter), the logical divisor would be 7.

After the meeting concluded, Bell apparently realized the questionable appearance the calculation method created and decided to adjust the divisor to 7, and to factor in unanswered questions by Board Member Cynthia McCarty. These moves slightly improved Sentance’s score, which ranged between a 1.28 to 2.07 on the 1 to 3 scale. The SBOE published the composite score last night—however, the scores of individual board members have not been published.

One of the most curious aspects is that Stephanie Bell, a Republican, has always purported to be opposed to Common Core, as is Sentance. Nevertheless, it appears that Bell, who’s been on the SBOE for over 20 years, has caucused with the Democrats and the education establishment to call Sentance’s performance into question.

Mary Scott Hunter spoke to Yellowhammer and said,

“Sadly this episode overshadows the great work that’s going on in our schools. Today’s news should have been about the draft strategic plan we discussed.  Sentence and his team did a ton of work to get input from across the state and prepare that plan.  We need educators and parents and others weighing in now on the proposals like school choice in Montgomery and monitoring chronic absenteeism of elementary school students.  These are reforms that should get attention because they affect kids, teachers, and communities, and people want us working for that, not wasting time and money like what happened today.”

Should Mike Sentance eventually be terminated, or even if he chooses to leave, the SBOE will likely have a difficult time convincing anyone else from another state to take the job in the foreseeable future. Perhaps that’s exactly the plan—to keep the establishment established. As we reported Saturday if that happens Alabama’s children will get the short end of the stick.

(News Analysis)

 

28 mins ago

Roy Moore backs Troy King in AG race

In a post that first appeared on the “In God We Trust Movement” Facebook page and later on a Facebook page affiliated with former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, Moore backed former Alabama Attorney General Troy King in his bid to reassume the state attorney general post.

Moore, who was defeated last December by Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) in a special election last year to fill a void left behind by Jeff Sessions, touted King’s credentials in the post.

“I fully support Troy King for the office of Attorney General,” it read. “He has the leadership, experience, and dedication to do an outstanding job. He is a Lifelong Republican who will stand for conservative values.”

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“Troy King has a proven record fighting against corruption,” Moore also said on the flier. “I have seen first hand the miss-use [sic] of power by the political establishment, and I know how badly we need an Attorney General committed to cleaning up Montgomery. I believe Troy King is the man for the job.”

The Facebook post touted that 50,000 of those mailers were sent to Moore supporters.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 hour ago

Del Marsh: Judge Kavanaugh’s record is clear — He deserves to be confirmed

When the name Brett Kavanaugh was first mentioned to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, like many of you, I did not know who he was or much about him. I began looking into him for more information as to what kind of Supreme Court justice he would be, should he be confirmed by the United States Senate. What I found was a fair, mainstream judge who believes in the United States Constitution, who has dedicated his life to public service and a judge who shares our conservative Alabama values.

His academic record is just what you would want to see from someone who sits on the highest court. He graduated from Yale for both his undergraduate studies and for law school. He has been a clerk for judges on the Third and the Ninth Circuit courts, as well as a clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court. Since 2009, he has been a lecturer at Harvard’s law school.

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Judge Kavanaugh has published over 300 opinions in his career and his decisions show a judge who will apply the law as written and enforce the text, structure, and original understanding of the Constitution. His opinions have been cited as law by over 200 judges from across the country. He is no stranger to the current make-up of the Supreme Court as many of those who
have clerked for him have gone onto work in the Supreme Court, and dozens of his opinions have been endorsed by the current members of the Court.

As impressive as his professional career has been, his personal character seems to be impeccable. He serves as a coach for youth basketball, is a leader in his church, serves meals to needy families, and is a tutor for children at local elementary schools in the Washington D.C. area.

All of this has led me to believe that Judge Kavanaugh is the most qualified person in the country to serve on the Supreme Court. In his current role in the D.C. Circuit Court, he was confirmed with bipartisan support – and nothing will have changed from that confirmation until now.

Unfortunately, this vote will be a very close vote and many experts believe that the confirmation could come down to the decision of Alabama’s Senator Doug Jones. If Senator Jones wants to represent the people of Alabama, he will take a look at Judge Kavanaugh’s record, as I have, and vote to confirm him to the Supreme Court. Alabama should not have a Senator that shares the same values as far-Left extremists such as Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren. Since he has been in the Senate, Senator Jones has a history of deferring his opinion on important issues until they have been decided by others (confirming the Secretary of State and the CIA Director are the first issues that come to mind). He has vowed to have an “independent review” of Judge Kavanaugh’s record. If he is serious about his slogan of Country over Party, I believe that the record speaks for itself and he will have no choice but to vote to confirm President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Senator Shelby has already said that Judge Kavanaugh has “impressive credentials” and that “This nomination is one of the most important items that we will consider this year.” I completely agree and I hope that the Senate will do the right thing and confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the next Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

We need a justice in the Supreme Court who will uphold and apply the laws of the Constitution, not an activist judge who will re-write our laws to gain political points from those who have an extreme agenda. It is clear that Judge Kavanaugh is the kind of high character public servant we need.

Del Marsh is president pro tempore of the Alabama Senate, representing the 12th District.

2 hours ago

Illegal alien beheads 13-year-old Huntsville girl

Law enforcement officials in Alabama say an illegal alien and an immigrant in America on a green card are responsible for murdering a 13-year-old girl with special needs and her grandmother, who had connections to Mexican drug cartels, says a report by AL.com.

The brutal beheading of 13-year-old Mariah Lopez took place after she witnessed her grandmother, Oralia Mendoza, get attacked with a knife in a cemetery, according to court testimony.

Mendoza, the 49-year-old grandmother, was alleged to have had connections with the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel, a popular and deadly drug-trafficking organization.

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Mendoza, along with Israel Palomino and Yoni Aguilar, had traveled to Georgia on June 2 to pick up methamphetamine, according to Investigator Stacy Rutherford. During the trip, one of the men became suspicious that Mendoza’s involvement was a setup.

Authorities say that Mendoza and Aguilar lived together and had dated one another in the past.

Palomino and Aguilar reportedly woke up Mendoza one night and told her that they were taking her and her granddaughter somewhere safe.

On June 4, Mendoza and Lopez were reportedly driven to Moon Cemetery located on Cave Springs Road. According to Aguilar, Mendoza and Palomino got out of the car and argued about the entire situation.

According to Aguilar, that is when the situation escalated and Palomino stabbed Mendoza. Due to Mendoza’s granddaughter being at the scene during the crime, Aguilar and Palomino took the 13-year-old girl to a separate location nearby and beheaded her.

Aguilar revealed to investigators that he was holding a knife when Palomino walked up to him and moved his arm back and forth in a sawing motion. Lopez was later beheaded.

Days later, both Aguilar and Palomino were placed in custody.

Two knives were recovered and cell phone signals from both of the men’s cellphones were pinged at the locations of each occurrence.

Palomino, 34, and Aguilar, 26, are both charged with two counts each of capital murder in the slayings of Mariah Lopez and her grandmother, Oralia Mendoza.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

2 hours ago

Roy Moore is not done embarrassing Alabama yet

Whether you view former Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore as the “Ten Commandments’ Judge”, the “guy banned from the Gadsden Mall”, or the “guy who lost to Doug Jones”, you probably don’t think very highly of him. He has brought loads of scorn upon the state of Alabama — some feel this is not his fault.

Whatever you think of Judge Moore, you probably think he should go away. Unfortunately, it appears that he is not interested in doing that. “Borat” creator Sacha Baron Cohen has a new TV series and Moore was apparently a target of one of his pranks.

Moore is rightly embarrassed, but is pretending he is going to sue Cohen if he airs the tape Moore is concerned about:

“I am involved in several court cases presently to defend my honor and character against vicious false political attacks by liberals like Cohen. If Showtime airs a defamatory attack on my character, I may very well be involved in another.”

Why this matters:

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Moore is an attorney and was the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He knows as well as anyone that if he said something on a tape during an interview it can be used. He will not win a single lawsuit he is involved in, but he will bilk his supporters for more money. He may sue, but you can sue on anything. He cannot win a lawsuit with a comedian who is producing a satire piece.

Moore is a public figure, a target for liberals, and he needs to fade into obscurity. Moore also needs to realize that his insistence on standing on the public stage only hurts the causes he holds dear. If he truly cares about Alabama, and not only about himself, he will stop answering media inquiries.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

3 hours ago

University of Alabama System chooses new interim chancellor Finis E. St. John

The University of Alabama System has chosen an interim chancellor to replace the retiring of current chancellor Jay Hayes at the end of the month.

Finis E. “Fess” St. John, IV, who currently serves on the UA system’s Board of Trustees, will succeed Hayes on August 1.

St. John will take an unpaid leave of absence from St. John & St. John law firm in Cullman and will serve as interim chancellor without compensation.

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“The fact that Fess St. John is willing to serve as our Interim Chancellor without compensation is a tremendous public service,” Board Trustee Joe Epsy said in a statement.

“We are extremely grateful that he is willing to step in and take on these complex administrative duties at a crucial time for our campuses and the UAB Health System,” Epsy continued, in part.

St. John graduated cum laude from Alabama in 1978, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa and Jasons. He went on to receive a law degree from the University of Virginia.