State, Selma City Schools leaders meet behind closed doors - - The News for South Mississippi

State, Selma City Schools leaders meet behind closed doors


The Selma City School system is trying to prevent a take-over by Alabama State Department of Education.

For the first time since State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice put the system on notice, the Selma School Board met with him face-to-face Wednesday to begin the process of correcting areas of serious concerns. It's a process that's long overdue, according to Supt. Bice.

It's a big turnaround from just two weeks ago when Bice was publicly expressing his concerns and the fact that he was not satisfied with the system.

"We sent them a letter back in September outlining some extremely indicting concerns about their school system, gave them a chance to respond to us..." Bice said.

The concerns stemmed from a state investigation that uncovered allegations of sexual misconduct and academic issues at Selma High School. Selma's response to the state's concerns, however, did not meet Bice's expectations.

"I sent them a return letter in November saying that the plan they sent needed far more clarification and measures that I could, on a regular basis, know how that process was going," Bice said. "At this point I have not received that."

So last Friday, the State Board of Education approved a resolution and notified Selma of its intent for intervention.

"Intervention. It's a negative term in some respects," Bice said, "but it can be looked at as how can this partnership fix some of the problems..."

It's a partnership that, after a closed-door meeting Thursday, may be in the making.

"The Selma City School system and the state department will work collaboratively to expedite some actions," said Superintendent Gerald Shirley, "collaboratively and cooperatively." He added that there were some things that were discussed in the closed meeting that were not in the original plan.

Following the meeting, Bice's office released a statement saying, "We had a productive meeting with the Selma City Board of Education and its superintendent, where I shared concerns about specific areas not covered in their submitted corrective action plan. An agreement was reached to work collaboratively with the state department of education to expedite actions that were identified as crucial to any further decisions to be considered by the state board of education."

The possibility of state intervention is still being considered and will be addressed at the next Board of Education meeting on Feb 12.

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