WSFA 12 News has reaction to a scathing letter from the state education department about Montgomery's public schools. The letter was to inform Montgomery schools the state is extending its investigation into grade changing.
State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice says the investigation reveals widespread and systemic problems or deficiencies within the Montgomery school system; harsh words that surprised Montgomery's Superintendent and members of the school board.
"What are you talking about?" School board President Eleanor Dawkins echoes the reaction of the other members after they read the letter.
"I think that he needs to clarify those words," Montgomery Superintendent Barbara Thompson says the issues are old. "I don't think these were new items, so I think we've addressed many of these" And she says the letter isn't specific enough. "When you want me to react to generalizations, you have to give me specifics"
Dawkins says, "the implications are that she's not doing her job". She and board member Beverly Ross believe there's an ulterior motive behind the letter. "I do think that somebody somewhere has some goals to make us continuously look bad, "Dawkins says. "There's a purpose behind it."
And Dawkins says the board is ready to address any issue necessary. "We are not saying by any means that MPS is spotless... If there's something wrong, tell us and we'll fix it, if you don't like what we've sent you, tell us and we'll send you more"
But Thompson is defensive about the measures her office has already taken. "We've turned in the reports that we were supposed to turn in, all of the documentation's been submitted that we are aware of up to this point"
Still - the State Superintendent's letter about the investigation clearly points to problems with the system as a whole. "Well he's never used the words widespread or systematic with me, so that's why you probably need to get it from him," says Thompson. She does not have another meeting scheduled with Dr. Bice.
Dawkins and Ross insists something doesn't add up with this letter - saying it's just the opposite of what Dr. Bice has told them.
School board Vice President Heather Sellers sent this written statement: "I take any misconduct seriously and am awaiting the details on the findings from the ALSDE. We will act swiftly and firmly once we are given more details."
Durden Dean told WSFA 12 News Reporter Bethany Wales over the phone, "today is a bad day," his scheduled was too busy to sit down. And Mary Briers said "I don't do camera interviews". Robert Porterfield and Melissa Snowden didn't return phone calls.
The State Superintendent's office says Dr. Bice won't comment until the investigation is over.
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