Sentance resigns as education superintendent
By KIM CHANDLER
Sep. 13, 2017
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Education Superintendent Michael Sentance resigned Wednesday after a tumultuous year on the job and ahead of a school board meeting in which some members were expected to push to fire him.
Sentance submitted a resignation, effective immediately, to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and state board members.
"I am humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to serve as state superintendent in Alabama," Sentance said in a statement issued through the Alabama Department of Education.
"There are many good things happening in public education in this state. My hope is that Alabama makes educating all children the state's highest priority, allowing the state to make significant educational gains and truly becoming the jewel of the south that it has the ability to become."
The resignation comes one year and one day after Sentance became Alabama education superintendent.
Sentance, an education consultant and former Massachusetts secretary of education, was an outsider without ties to Alabama when a divided state school board picked him to become the next superintendent. Board members who voted for him praised his innovation, saying he would bring fresh ideas. Others raised concerns about his absence of classroom and school experience.
In his time on the job, Sentance said the state had a crisis in math education and wanted to develop a strategy to raise languishing scores. He also worked on an intervention in the Montgomery public school system.
However, board members criticized his communication skills and handling of the intervention. Board members this summer gave him low scores on a performance evaluation. They ranked the superintendent's performance on a scale of one to three in several categories. Sentance scored averages between 1.28 and 2.07
There also appeared to be lingering resentments over the selection process. Board members in June accepted a report that said there was a "scheme to malign" another superintendent candidate, who had been the first choice of several board members, by circulating old plagiarism accusations against him.
The resignation came a day before a Thursday meeting in which board of education members has scheduled a discussion of Sentance's contract.
Board member Mary Scott Hunter, one of Sentance's allies on the board, said he had lost support from many board members and she expected there would be a push to fire him had he not resigned.
"There have been a lot of issues. Unfortunately, there have been people who have not helped him or dug the road out from other him," Hunter said.
Ivey, who as governor serves as president of the school board, said she will ask the board to accept Sentance's resignation and begin the search for a new school leader.
"Over the past two years, Alabama has experienced far too many changes in state government. As with previous changes in leadership positions, we will use the pending resignation of the state superintendent as an opportunity to move forward and begin a new chapter in public education," Ivey said in a statement