Secretary of State investigating Arab City School Board

A citizen filed a complaint against Arab City Schools claiming they violated the open meetings law.

Posted: Sep. 17, 2018 6:16 PM
Updated: Sep. 21, 2018 8:22 PM

The Secretary of State's office is investigating the Arab Board of Education after a complaint was filed accusing the board of violating the "open meetings law."

Last month Arab City Schools superintendent John Mullins decided the Arab High School band could no longer play the Dixie fight song.

Many citizens WAAY 31 spoke with are upset that no public hearings were held before the decision was made.

"I just feel like that song should not be taken out of the ball game. Definitely should not be taken out of the game," said Jennifer Fisher.

Jennifer Fisher was a cheerleader for Arab High School in the 80's and remembers the excitement when the Dixie song would play during the football games.

"It makes the stadium...It just makes us feel...It's our home song and it should not change," Fisher said.

Stacy George believes the Arab City School Board went against the open meetings law because the decision to get rid of the song wasn't made public. WAAY 31 reached out to Superintendent John Mullins who wouldn't talk on camera but did release this statement:

"The decision to move towards a new fight song for Arab High School was an administrative process in which I led. At no juncture has the issue of the school fight song ever been placed on an Arab City Board of Education agenda. The Arab City Board of Education fully understands and fully complies with the Alabama Open Meetings Act."

"That's not a good way to do public policy. Not a good way for a school board to act or a superintendent to act. There's no excuse for this. The public needs to have knowledge and input and they didn't," Stacy George said.

Secretary of State John Merrill said he received this complaint a few days ago and he's still looking into it. He said a violation of an open meeting law normally occurs if a board makes a decision on finances, hiring and penalties behind closed doors.

George is confident that if a public hearing was held concerning the Dixie song, it would have not been voted out.

"You can't just decide something that's been done for 25 to 50 years. You decide that all of a sudden you're going to take it out without no complaint or public input?" George said.

George is still pushing to bring back prayer in Arab City Schools and at football games.

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