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SBE Update - December 8, 2016

The State Board of Education met yesterday in a special-called meeting at 3:30 pm. The following items were on the agenda:

  • Finalizing the Evaluation of State Superintendent of Education – Suggestions for revisions were made by Board members.

The State Board of Education met today in a meeting at 10:00 am. All board members were present with the exception of Jeff Newman and Matthew Brown. The following items were on the agenda:


  • Yvette Richardson read a letter from the Ethics Commission in response to the Board’s request to investigate the leak of documents against Craig Pouncey. Summarizing, the Ethics Commission would need an individual's name and an allegation of the use of office for personal gain before launching an investigation. Board members are hopeful that facts will be disclosed from the investigation launched by Senators Dial and Ross. At this juncture, the Board will await the special legislative committee's investigation to be completed.
  • The Board unanimously approved the evaluation instrument for the State Superintendent of Education.
  • The Board unanimously approved a resolution for approval of an Educator Preparation Program, University of Mobile, Mobile, Alabama

Superintendent’s Report – Mr. Sentance told about his visits with local superintendents and education organizations. He discussed the issue with Pike Road Schools owing Montgomery Public Schools $1.4 million that was mistakenly routed to them by the Alabama Department of Education. Mr. Sentance set the record straight that he did not ask Pike Road Schools to pay all funds by the end of the calendar year, but instead requested Pike Road Schools accrue the funds and have the amount paid in full by the end of the school year. Sentance spoke about President-Elect Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee, Betsy DeVos. Mr. Sentance repeated that ESSA regulations will most likely be changing under the new administration. He thanked the ESSA Committee for their hard work and ideas. He conveyed that the State Department of Education is building on the ideas shared during the ESSA Committee meetings which will be brought before the Board at a later time.

The State Board of Education met today in a work session at 11:00 am. All board members were present with the exception of Jeff Newman and Matthew Brown. The following items were on the agenda:



  • 2018 Budget Priorities – Mr. Andy Craig, Deputy State Superintendent, presented the Board with details of the State Department of Education budget. Board members asked questions about expenditures, questioning the effectiveness of programs that are allocated money. 


    Click here to view budget report


  • Science Plan and Reading- Mr. Sentance discussed science results in Alabama compared to other states. Found in the presentation below, Utah is the highest performing state in science and Sentance stated Utah spends less per pupil than Alabama. The achievement results showed growth in grades 3-6, but a drop afterwards. Since there is no state-wide strategy to address science achievement in Alabama, he will be developing one. There will be a science committee formed to look at challenges and solutions. A similar course of action will be taken with reading also.

View the science presentation


  • Graduation Rate Issues – In 2008, the Secretary of Education sent guidance that stated in order for a school to count graduates, they had to complete credits within the course of study. At some point in early 2012, the Alabama State Department of Education was told they were filing graduation information incorrectly by including an occupational diploma in the graduation rate. The Superintendent at that time said he would submit documentation to challenge the ruling. Usually when a ruling of this magnitude is challenged it initiates a visit or peer review, but none took place. This leads most to think that no challenge was ever submitted, and no proof of a challenge can be found at the Alabama Department of Education. Unfortunately, during this time Alabama kept filing graduation information incorrectly.


    In March 2016, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) gave notice they would be conducting an audit of the Alabama Department of Education. On Mr. Sentance’s second day as Superintendent he met with OIG auditors. They reported that students were earning diplomas without having the credits. “The graduation rate reported to the U.S. Department of Education is incorrect,” stated Mr. Sentance. He went on to say, “This is a black eye for the Department. We have problems and need to fix them.”


    Currently, Dee Fowler, Deputy State Superintendent and Chief of Staff, and Mr. Sentance, in conjunction with PARCA, are reviewing the structure of the department. The goal is to logically place authority and accountability to offices. Additionally, an Office of Quality Control will be created. This office’s focus will be to review and make sure protocols and regulations are being followed.


    Board members voiced their disappointment and anger with the situation. They were appreciative to Mr. Sentance for his leadership in working to resolve the issue.


    Mr. Sentance informed Board members that he had briefed the legislative leadership and Governor on the issue.


Click here to read the press release


The next State Board meeting is scheduled for December 8, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. immediately followed by the work session at 11:00 a.m. Both will be at the Gordon Persons Building, Montgomery, Alabama.



If you are unable to access the links in this document you may visit the SBE Update section under the Communications menu at

Susie Ellison

Communications Coordinator
(800) 239-3616