“We are happy that these funds will finally be where they were supposed to go in the first place – Montgomery Public Schools,” AEA Associate Executive Director Theron Stokes said in the press release.
$1.4 million in state funds returned to Montgomery Public Schools
Montgomery Public Schools Interim Superintendent Ann Roy Moore picked up a check for the amount today, the AEA said. Moore said the funds have already been deposited.
The misdirected money was mentioned in a lawsuit that the AEA filed last month against Interim Superintendent Ed Richardson to block the sale of Georgia Washington Middle School to the Pike Road system. Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone was also named as a defendant.
Richardson is overseeing an intervention of Montgomery Public Schools by the state for financial and academic reasons.
As part of the intervention, Richardson announced plans to sell Georgia Washington Middle School to Pike Road to help shore up finances for the Montgomery system. The plan also included closing Chisholm, Dozier and Floyd elementary schools, selling unused property, eliminating 17 central office positions and other steps.
The Montgomery County Board of Education opposes the sale of Georgia Washington, an historic school named after an African-American educator.
Richardsons plan called for selling the school to Pike Road for $9.75 million plus a $1.5 million reimbursement for the misdirected money.
The AEAs Stokes said the issues of the school sale and the misdirected money should be kept separate.
Stokes said Montgomery Public Schools received the $1.4 million through mediation in the lawsuit. He said no other issues are being mediated at this point.
Michael Sibley, spokesman for the Department of Education, said the judge handling mediation in the lawsuit, Judge Charles Price, suggested that the department reimburse Montgomery Public Schools and keep the issue separate from the sale of Georgia Washington. Sibley said Pike Road will reimburse the Department of Education.
Sibley said Richardsons plan to sell Georgia Washington came after the Montgomery County BOE initially voted to sell the school. But the Montgomery board changed course after determining that it would strain the capacity of the remaining middle schools.
Robert Porterfield, chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Education, said the repayment was “long overdue” and called it a great day for Montgomery schools.
In the AEA lawsuit, filed on behalf of three Montgomery school employees, the AEA claimed that Richardson had no authority to sell the school and was not acting in the best interests of Montgomery schools, noting that he had worked as a consultant for Pike Road when it separated from the Montgomery system.
In response, Richardson said his goal was was to address what he described as “dismal student achievement” in Montgomerys non-magnet schools.
In January, 11 Montgomery schools were listed among the states “failing” schools, including all five of Montgomerys traditional public high schools.
Updated at 5:39 p.m. to add comments from Michael Sibley of the Department of Education.
The Alabama State Department of Education said Pike Roads Schools would reimburse the state after receiving the funds in error two years ago.