MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Education Association (AEA) board voted to fire Executive Secretary Henry Mabry Saturday, after reports that teachers’ union cleaned house during a closed door executive meeting late last night, ousting Executive Secretary Henry Mabry and revoking building access to former Associate Executive Secretary Joe Reed.
The AEA Board reportedly voted to request assistance from the National Education Association (NEA) in implementing the regime change.
This was a difficult decision by the Board but one that was necessary to close a difficult chapter in AEA’s recent past and turn to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead,” AEA President Anita Gibson said. “We cannot and will not dwell on the past but must move forward and build for the future.”
Gibson said Mabry will have a termination hearing.
Reed has been a mainstay at the AEA since the black teachers’ union he led, the Alabama State Teachers Association, and the late AEA boss Paul Hubbert merged to create the modern AEA in 1969. Though he retired in 2011, he was still a frequent presence at the union’s headquarters.
The firing was prompted by an audit conducted by the organization after a letter from Hubbert raised the alarm of misspent funds, an unhealthy work environment, and “intolerable friction between AEA and members of both parties in the Legislature.”
The AEA came under additional fire after a disastrous 2014 election season in which they spent approximately $20 million of teachers’ money without winning a single targeted election in November.
Once considered the single most powerful group in Alabama politics, the AEA’s influence began to wane as the state turned more and more Republican leading up to the 2010 elections, when the GOP took the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.
The retirement, and subsequent death of long-time AEA Executive Secretary Paul Hubbert, seemingly sealed the union’s fate, as new leadership struggled to maintain Hubbert’s loyal network and stranglehold on the inner workings of state politics.
The AEA has yet to appoint a new executive secretary, though with the legislative session approaching quickly, we expect them to name a new leader soon. Gibson indicated the AEA will still make the defeat of charter school legislation a top priority during the session.
This story is still developing and will be updated as more details emerge.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015