If State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey invokes his powers to remove Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler for not following an order to accept an agreement with the city of Gulf Shores, the county, in a lawsuit filed around 4:30 p.m. yesterday, says it will ask a court to counter it.
“If any action is instituted by the Mackey against the Baldwin County Superintendent of Education, however, the Baldwin County Board of Education will promptly seek a temporary restraining order from this court,” the lawsuit states.It was one of many arguments Baldwin County made in the lawsuit against Mackey (see full document below), the Gulf Shores City Board of Education and the Baldwin County Commission in its dispute over a final separation agreement between the two systems. The case has been assigned to the Baldwin County District Court Judge Joseph Norton.
On Feb. 5, Mackey sent a letter to both school boards involved in the split and said both needed to OK his decisions on the conflicts between the two to complete the separation by midnight on Feb. 15. Gulf Shores had already indicated its board signed the agreement and sent it back to Mackey.
“BCBOE replied by filing suit against me today so I cannot comment without consulting attorneys,” Mackey said yesterday in a response to an email from Lagniappe.
In that letter, Mackey said if Baldwin County didn’t comply, he would invoke powers given to the state superintendent in Alabama State Code Section 16-4-4. Those include a provision allowing Mackey to remove “any person appointed under the provisions of this title for immorality, misconduct in office, insubordination, incompetency or willful neglect of duty.”
“There exists a justiciable controversy between the Baldwin County Board of Education and the Defendants concerning the date upon which the Gulf Shores City Board is entitled to receive Foundation Program funding,” the lawsuit states.
At issue are disputed state funds paid to BCBOE to be used for payroll for the new city system for the month of September. The county also has an issue with Gulf Shores collecting revenue earmarked for schools through sales taxes beginning on June 1 when the system will not be in session. The Baldwin school board contends it will lose about $7 million all totaled.
Gulf Shores officials believe that number is significantly lower and contends the disputed payroll funds are going to the same employees whether it is paid through Baldwin County or Gulf Shores.
On the sales tax, Gulf Shores contends that while it will receive about $2 million from the sales tax in months June through September, it is also assuming all costs and recurring expenses related to maintenance and day-to-day costs for three school buildings. The county, Gulf Shores School Board President Kevin Corcoran said, will be relieved of those obligations on June 1.
Baldwin County’s lawsuit says that Mackey doesn’t have to power to allocate state Foundation Program education funding.
“In other words, the State Superintendent’s decision orders the Baldwin County Board of Education to pay a portion of the Gulf Shores Shores City Board’s payroll obligations for the 2019-2020 school contract year,” the lawsuit states. “Alabama law specifically directs that money from the Foundation Program Fund to be paid to local boards of education each month in amounts determined solely by the Alabama Legislature.”
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