Jackson County Sentinel

On Thursday evening, Scottsboro City Schools Board of Education voted not to renew the contracts of two of the system’s principals at a special-called board meeting. Collins Intermediate School principal Julie Petty and Brownwood Elementary School principal Gary Speers are both employed under contracts that will expire on Saturday, June 30.

At an emergency meeting called Friday, the board voted to accept the resignation of a system employee. The vote was unanimous; however, two board members were absent.

At some point after the meeting concluded, our reporter was notified that the identity of the individual resigning would not be disclosed in consideration of their family.

Late Friday evening, Superintendent Dr. Jay Reyes phoned to discuss the matter.

Using the latitude allowed to the school system under public records laws, Reyes committed to providing the requested information in a timely manner next week once the Sentinel has submitted the appropriate paperwork for the request.

The Sentinel is requesting this information because even though withholding the individual’s name may be done with the best intention, it is not allowed according to the law.

While there are exceptions in the law for calling an emergency meeting, such as to accept a resignation, there are no exceptions in regard to withholding the results of the meeting.

“There is no statute protecting that information. The documents are public record, as the board voted on them,” said Dana W. Vandiver, Director of Public Relations for Alabama Association of School Boards, when reached by email.

The document she’s referring to is the letter of resignation.

The only exception to the law regarding withholding a name is in regard to a non-renewal of a contract. The school system may withhold a name long enough to notify the individual of their contract’s status. That exception does not apply in this case.

Huntsville attorney Taylor Brooks represents Scottsboro City Schools. When reached by phone on Friday, he said he was aware of the individual’s identity but would need to consult with the system and call the newspaper back. As of press time Friday evening, Brooks had not contacted the newspaper.

Questions remain if the employee who resigned might be one of the two principals whose contracts were not renewed on Thursday evening, or if the individual who resigned is a Scottsboro High School teacher that was placed on paid administrative leave last fall pending a state investigation.

The Alabama Department of Education Communications Department confirmed on Friday, Sept. 29 that Andrew Benson was placed on administrative leave with pay.

The state’s investigation has not been finalized, and no court records could be found concerning the teacher.

The Sentinel is pursuing the request because it is the public’s right to know whether a community school will finish the year with an acting principal, or if a teacher accused of wrongdoing has been removed from the system.

We fully expect Scottsboro City Schools to act in good faith and provide the information that is public record upon our submission of the request through the proper channels.

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