BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) – Alabama’s attorney general says the Birmingham school system is in such disarray, “financial uncertainty and political crisis” that “court intervention is necessary to restore order and to ensure the prompt opening” of the coming school year.
Attorney General Luther Strange, the state Board of Education and state Superintendent Thomas Bice sued the Birmingham City Board of Education, its nine members, and the “putative interim superintendent” of Birmingham schools, Samuetta Drew, in Jefferson County Court.
“Now and for some time in the past, the Birmingham Board has been in an unsound financial condition, which has created exigent and adverse circumstances affecting the immediate and long-term educational interests of the Birmingham school system,” the complaint states.
“For example, the Birmingham school system is unprepared, both fiscally and administratively, to begin the 2012-13 school year. The fiscal unsoundness of the Birmingham Board has prompted, intervention by the SBE, and Superintendent Bice has assumed full and complete control over the financial operations of the Birmingham Board. The Birmingham Board, however, has openly defied the authority of Superintendent Bice by refusing to implement a financial recovery plan (that has been approved by the Birmingham Board) that is essential to restoring fiscal stability to the Birmingham Board, and have even taking the extreme action of denying, temporarily, the entire state staff, including [Birmingham schools Chief Financial Officer] Dr. Richardson, access to the offices of the Birmingham Board and to their own files and computers. In short, the Birmingham Board is in a state of financial instability and political crisis and immediate court intervention is necessary to restore order and to ensure the prompt opening of the Birmingham school system for the 2012-13 academic year.”
The attorney general claims that Birmingham is the only one of the state’s 31 public school systems that did not turn in an approved financial accountability plan by the May 2012 deadline.
Birmingham has only $2 million of its required $17 million reserve fund, according to the complaint.
The State Board of Education claims it elected Richardson as Birmingham’s Chief Financial Officer, but “the Birmingham Board has refused to cooperate with Superintendent Bice and his appointee Dr. Richardson, and has defied Superintendent Bice’s authority to manage and control the Birmingham Board’s financial operations. In reality, the Birmingham Board has been openly hostile to Superintendent Bice and has directly impeded and obstructed his efforts to restore the Birmingham Board to fiscal soundness and to ensure the prompt opening of the Birmingham school system in compliance and fulfillment of state law.”
It adds: “The Birmingham Board is in a state of financial uncertainty and political crisis and court intervention is required.”
Birmingham’s population was 212,237 in 2010.