The Department of Justice (DOJ) is getting involved in the controversy over the Hoover school board's decision to end bus service next year.
State schools superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice said today he's getting more involved in this issue because of what he calls "increased concern," and said the federal government is getting involved as well in what he says is an ongoing conversation about the decision to cut buses.
Dr. Bice wasted little time after the state school board meeting Thursday stepping up the scrutiny on Hoover's school board and its decision to end bus service next year.
"I had a discussion with the folks in Hoover yesterday because I know there's an even greater concern now," Dr. Bice said. "I'm working with them, interjecting some conversation with the Deptartment Of Justice so that we're sharing information to help make the best decision possible."
The school board met in executive session Thursday morning but didn't take any action. The State Deptartment of Education says it was Hoover City Schools who asked the DOJ to get involved. While Dr. Bice repeated his position that this is a local decision, he also made clear he has a stake in the outcome and doesn't think this is a completely settled issue.
"I still hope this is resolved locally, I think that's the way it needs to happen," Bice said. "We're in a unique place that makes is somewhat precarious for the state department in that city systems aren't required to provide transportation, so the fact they've made the decision not to is their's to make. It does become my responsibility to continue to look at safety and welfare as the issue and that will be my major focus as this plays out."
We asked the DOJ for clarification on their role in this decision and what issues they are examining, but have not heard back for comment.
Hoover City Schools Superintendent Dr. Andy Craig released this statement on the system's conversation with the DOJ:
As an ongoing component of planning and evaluating changes to Hoover City Schools' delivery of transportation services, my office has engaged in discussions with various parties of interest. We have been in regular communication with State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice and other representatives of the State Department of Education. In addition, through my office, the Hoover City Board of Education has been engaged in and continues to dialogue with the United States Attorney's Office and representatives for the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
As a part of these continuing discussions, we have engaged in a collaborative review process with the Department of Justice, with the mutual goal of best serving the students of Hoover. To facilitate these discussions, the Department of Justice has requested certain information regarding the operation of our transportation program, and we will provide that information.
I want to stress that we have been in open and productive dialogue with the United States Department of Justice, and we will continue to provide all relevant information.
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