State School Supt. Wants To Clarify His Comments But Shoves His Foot Deeper Into His ThroatRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Jun 04 2012 10:04 PM
HENRY COUNTY: This past Friday I received a copy of a letter from Dr. Tommy Bice of the Alabama State Department of Education. The letter was written to Judge Brad Mendheim, Circuit Court Judge of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit which is composed of Houston and Henry County.
Dr. Bice wrote the letter in reference to the May 21, 2012 court ruling in the case of Sanders vs. Henry County Board of Education. The court case was a Motion For Declaratory Judgment and Temporary Restraining order to allow Aaron Sanders to participate in the graduation ceremonies of Headland High School.
Dennis Coe, Henry County School Board Superintendent Who Resigned and Lesa Knowles, Interim Henry County School Superintendent
The Henry County School Superintendent was Dennis Coe. Days before the qualifying time to seek election Coe resigned and took a job with the Alabama State Department of Education in Montgomery. Coe’s new state job is “Office of Supporting Programs”. Coe moved from Henry County to Prattville.
That means Dennis Coe now works for and under the direction of Dr. Tommy Bice, State Superintendent, for the Alabama State Board of Education.
Following Coe’s resignation the Henry County School Board appointed Lesa Knowles as the Interim School Superintendent. Knowles is at the command of the Henry County Schools and is a candidate to become the Henry County School Superintendent.
Aaron Sanders, Senior, Headland High School
Aaron Sanders is an 18 year old young man who has attended Headland Schools for 13 consecutive years. Aaron started in kindergarten and progressed year by year through the school system.
Aaron Sanders never failed a grade. He has had perfect attendance since the 6th grade, with the exception of checking out early in the 11th grade, last period, for the Junior – Senior Prom.
Aaron had more than enough credits to graduate. However, Aaron had not passed the reading portion of the Alabama Graduation Exam.
Aaron and his parents appealed to the Henry County Board of Education. After deaf ears from the Henry County School Board the Sanders appealed to the Henry County Circuit Court.
Dr. Tommy Bice, State Superintendent of the Alabama State Department of Education
On May 21, 2012 Dr. Tommy Bice came to Dothan Alabama and spoke to the Dothan Rotary Club.
A reporter from WDHN asked Dr. Bice about the recent controversy concerning the Alabama Graduation Exam and a student walking.
While Dr. Bice did say it was a local issue, Dr. Bice made the following comments concerning the Alabama Graduation Exam;
“At this point in the year walking is the biggest issue regardless of what is in that folder. That can come later. That is one of the reasons we are doing away with the graduation exam because it’s such a high stakes test that can negate everything a student has done over their school career, basically, so we look forward to that going away”.
At the urging of the man which left the Henry County School system in mid stream to move from Henry County and go to Montgomery, Dennis Coe, Dr. Bice wrote a letter to Judge Mendheim. Dr. Bice wanted to make it clear that he supported the local school board authority and did not want it to appear that he opposed the local school board.
Judge Brad Mendheim’s Court Findings
Aaron Sanders mother, Amy, had never practiced law or been in a courtroom. She took the battle on for her son.
The Henry County Board of Education walked in with three (3) lawyers, the Interim School Superintendent, the Headland High School Guidance Counselor and several board members of the Henry County Board of Education.
They had so much law power brains around the table for the Henry County Board of Education they took chairs away from Aaron and his mother. Mrs. Sanders almost had to take a flying leap in order to get over the chairs of the Henry County School Board Counsel table.
And in Aaron’s corner, was he and his mother. His dad was not allowed to sit at the table. Just Aaron and Amy to fight the school board.
When Amy Sanders asked to introduce the tape footage of Dr. Bice comments, the trio of Henry County School Board Lawyers said no. That tape was never allowed into evidence.
Judge Mendheim asked the trio of Henry County School Board Lawyers, Interim School Superintendent, Headland High School Principal, Headland High School Counselor, and Henry County School Board Members to give him an explanation for their policy. The policy at issue.
Judge Mendheim stated apparently other school systems allow students in the same situation has Aaron Sanders to walk. ( Houston County and Geneva County ) allow the students to walk.
Judge Mendheim took a 15 minute break to allow the trio of legal minds and school officials to come up with reasons, explanations of their policy.
That left 18 year old Aaron Sanders and his mother no legal counsel to research law.
After the break the trio of legal minds for the Henry County Board of Education could give no reason or basis for their policy.
Most especially since the Alabama State Department of Education had deemed the test a failure, they are replacing the test, and the State School Superintendent, Dr. Bice said “At this point in the year walking is the biggest issue regardless of what is in that folder. That can come later. That is one of the reasons we are doing away with the graduation exam because it’s such a high stakes test that can negate everything a student has done over their school career, basically, so we look forward to that going away”.
Judge Mendheim ruled the court is respectful of the authority of the local school boards to adopt policy. However, when 3 lawyers, an Interim School Superintendent, a School Principal, a High School Counselor, and members of the Board that made the decision can not even articulate a basis for their policy, well that speaks for itself.
The State vs. Local School Board Policy
Dr. Bice, you have given the greatest definition of why there needs to be some major changes in education.
Just because you ( any teacher ) can teach in a classroom, does not mean you can run a major business. In a business, when someone sees something that is a failure and costing, they make immediate changes. In education, you let that system continue until it destroys others.
If you look forward to it going away, then why are you waiting.
The “local” Henry County School Board Policy was established based on a graduation exam designed by bureaucrats in Montgomery that needed to justify their existence and pay. If the designed test by the bureaucrats is a failure, then the locals need to re-visit their policy.
However, Lesa Knowles made the mistake of leaning on Dennis Coe for directions and guidance in this issue. That guidance is why he took the state job and did not risk seeking re-election in Henry County. Perhaps because he would have not been successful.
The school system is a business. It needs to be managed by the business people of this state, people like the beloved Mrs. Agnes Simpson who managed a successful radio station, like Alfred Saliba who built a great business, like Mr. D.F. McMullan who built Mack Electric, like John Watson who has built may successful businesses and controls much of the businesses.
You can get a good education team, but the Alabama State Department of Education needs people who can run a large business.
In Closing Dr. Bice
Without a doubt, you said “At this point in the year walking is the biggest issue regardless of what is in that folder. That can come later. That is one of the reasons we are doing away with the graduation exam because it’s such a high stakes test that can negate everything a student has done over their school career, basically, so we look forward to that going away”.
That means you look forward to the test going away. Well then, action speaks louder than words.
Watch who your mentor is. You messed this one up!