Muscle Shoals parents want the chance to vote on school board members

Since the Muscle Shoals City School System was formed in 1958, board of education members have been appointed positions by the Muscle Shoals City Council. Now many parents are standing behind a movement to elect school board members, which could be a long process.

Posted: Feb. 1, 2018 4:13 PM
Updated: Feb. 2, 2018 9:12 AM

A movement is brewing in Muscle Shoals to have board of education members elected instead of appointed.

Since the Muscle Shoals City School System was formed in 1958, board of education members have been appointed positions by the Muscle Shoals City Council. Now many parents are standing behind a movement to elect school board members, which could be a long process.

"If the school board isn't willing to listen to any of the parents on the biggest issue they have ever dealt with they're not going to listen to us on anything," said Michael James, who has a son in the Muscle Shoals City School System.

James told us the catalyst that started this movement happened after parents were upset on how the school system handled an investigation and firing of McBride Elementary School Teacher, Blake Jarmon.

"We have many issues this is just the biggest one," said James.

Jarmon was fired in December for improper conduct, despite many parents going to BOE meetings saying they didn't want him fired. Parents tell us they felt like the school board didn't listen to their concerns. So they decided to go before the Muscle Shoals City Council at the beginning of January. Parents presented a resolution to have board of education members elected rather than appointed. James was at that meeting and said he felt like once again their voices were not heard.

"They told us they couldn't do anything about it. That's another reason why we need to have school elected board members because we can do something about it," said James.

In order to have an election on school board members a local bill would need to be passed by Alabama Legislators to let the city vote on the possibility of having the positions become elected. The local bill would also layout guidelines and qualifications for board members. If the local bill was passed, it would ultimately come down to the city council's decision on allowing the vote to happen.

"I don't see any reason why we couldn't go with an elected school board now just to hold the school board more accountable for their decisions," said James.

WAAY31 spoke with the superintendent and mayor of Muscle Shoals, both said they have seen great success with the appointed board members in the school system. The Muscle Shoals School System just received an A+ plus in public school rankings. Parents we spoke with do not dispute the advanced level of education their kids receive at MSCS, but are still working to get a chance to have elected board members.

Most county schools in Alabama have elected board of education members and even elect the superintendents, but some city school systems have appointed board of education members. In North Alabama Madison City Schools, Guntersville City Schools, Tuscumbia City Schools, Sheffield City Schools, Muscle Shoals City Schools and Arab City Schools all have board of education members appointed by their city councils. Their board of education members in turn appoint the superintendent.

Hartselle City Schools, Florence City Schools, Decatur City Schools, and Huntsville City Schools have elected board of education members. Their elected board members also appoint a superintendent.

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