There are new details on Montgomery Public Schools' request for a state monitor after the board voted unanimously to request state help a surprise move Tuesday night.
WSFA 12 News has learned more about what that request means, and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange is weighing in on what it means for the City of Montgomery.
The State Board of Education is currently still investigating MPS. It's an extension of the investigation into grade changing allegations that MPS asked for, but the move to request a state monitor came as a surprise to Mayor Strange.
In a last-minute addition to the agenda, Montgomery school board member Durden Dean proposed to ask the state for help. The board unanimously agreed. Montgomery Superintendent Barbara Thompson says, "asking for an outside monitor, monitor from the State, it's something that people do. We've already asked them to do the investigation."
It's an investigation into grade changing allegations, and the system's credit and grade recovery program, an investigation the state decided to extend as a result of its findings.
"It's an interesting development," Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange says, though he still wants to know how deep the monitoring will go. "If the monitor is for that credit recovery program, singly and solely, I think that would be fine. If you try to expand that past that and it is more of monitoring the entire system, that's a little more problematic and I think would require some understanding and some conversation as to what the end game is," the mayor said.
And if the state's end game is to take over MPS, the Mayor says the city will step in. "We cannot take over the school system," he admits, "We would have to create a whole new system."
"Two years ago, I did not think it was the right thing to do, Today I'm not sure whether it's the right thing to do, but I can be educated as to whether it is or it isn't," Mayor Strange says.
"I think we're way too early to be thinking about this. What we heard last night was a request by the board of education to the state superintendent, I'm waiting to hear what the state superintendent's attitude is about that," Strange added.
In a written response, State Supt. Dr. Tommy Bice says the term "monitor" is one that Montgomery County BOE chose to use. He says the state offers assistance in all areas of education to all districts. Dr Bice says this monitor will assess programs, recommend improvements, and timelines.
Dr. Bice says he was not surprised by the request, saying it aligns with the state's anticipated actions based on the extended investigation.
The State school board is meeting Thursday for a work session. At this point, Montgomery's request is not on the agenda.
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