The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) is hoping to broaden its ability to intervene in school districts that are not serving children well. Senate Bill 43 (SB43), sponsored by Senator Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery), expands upon the original law, passed during the 2013 legislative session, broadening the circumstances under which the ALSDE can initiate an intervention.
SB43 delineates the following reasons for intervention:
1. The local school system is in material noncompliance with statutes, rules, or regulations relating to any of the following or a combination of material academic, financial, organizational, operational, and/or safety noncompliance, and school governance and accountability including, but not limited to, mandates imposed by or under authority of Chapter 13A* of this title.
2. A majority of the students have failed to meet the state approved benchmark for state standards or the local school system has been notified of disciplinary action taken against it from the accrediting entity recognized by the State Board of Education.
*Chapter 13A refers to the chapter within Title 16 of the Code of Alabama. That chapter has to do with fiscal accountability, or how a district handles money.
The current law states that the ALSDE can begin intervention procedures “if the State Superintendent of Education determines that a majority of the schools in the system are priority schools, or the system is not in compliance with Chapter 13A of this title or the accreditation status of the system or a majority of the schools in the system has been placed on probation, or suspended, or revoked, or if any other formal disciplinary action has been ordered by the accrediting authority.” [emphasis added]
Adding “organizational, operational, and/or safety noncompliance, and school governance and accountability” to the list greatly opens the door to state intervention.
When asked the purpose of the bill, ALSDE spokesperson Malissa Valdes-Hubert said that the language in SB43 is broader and “preferred due to the wide realm of issues a system could face”. She added that in previous state interventions, the intervention team may have gone in to investigate one area but then found to “have additional issues like issues that jeopardize the academic integrity of the system”.
The proposed language also changes the parameters for intervention to a majority of students within a school system that are not meeting academic benchmarks rather than a majority of schools. This could make it easier for the ALSDE to step in when the majority of children are not academically succeeding.
Midfield has been released from intervention.
ALSDE Interventions – 1996 to present
All of these interventions have been for financial reasons.
Barbour County – July 1999 to February 2006
Bessemer City – March 2000 to March 2004
Birmingham City – June 2012 to present
Coosa County – July 2010 to October 2013
Dale County – March 2001 to March 2005
Jefferson County – February 2000 to June 2003l
Macon County – July 1996 to December 2001
Midfield City – January 2012 to October 2013
Selma City – February 2014 to present
Sumter County – July 2010 to July 2011
Wilcox County – May 1996 to December 2000