Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler says he’s tired of the county being portrayed as the bad guy in the split negotiations with the Gulf Shores school board.
“Everybody sees us as the bully, as the bad people on the block,” Tyler said. “You know something? Maybe it’s time that we start acting a little bit like a bully and really bad but in a professional way.”
At question is did Gulf Shores want to retain the principals at Gulf Shores High School and Gulf Shores Middle School for the new system? Well, yes and no.
According to Tyler, the Gulf Shores negotiation team told the state superintendent they didn’t want them.
“We sat in Montgomery with [State Superintendent] Dr. [Eric] Mackey right before Christmas,” Tyler said. “Gulf Shores and their attorneys on one side and myself and some of our folks on the other side. The conversation of principals came up. Dr. Mackey said, ‘What about contract principals? … What do you want to do?’ … Gulf Shores said, ‘They can have the principals.’ I said, ‘We’ll take them.’”
Gulf Shores School Board President Kevin Corcoran said his team may have said that in the meeting but there is much more to it.
“At no point in time did we ever express that we were not interested in these principals,” Corcoran said.
The ensuing principal flap has turned out to be the most bitter rift in what’s been a contentious separation negotiation between Baldwin County and Gulf Shores as the city becomes the first in the county to break away.
On Jan. 28, Gulf Shores had a specially called school board meeting because Tyler was set to meet with parents in Orange Beach about the new county school coming to that town the following day, Jan. 29. He was poised to introduce Cindy Veazey and Kyle McCartney as the first principals of Orange Beach High School and Orange Beach Middle School. But on the night before the Orange Beach meeting and after the Gulf Shores special meeting, Tyler recalled getting two phone calls about 15 minutes apart from Veazey and McCartney telling him they were taking the Gulf Shores positions.
“I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when I got calls last night,” Tyler said. “There is no excuse for what is going on.”
Veazey was the principal in Gulf Shores at the high school and McCartney was at the middle school until Feb. 1. The Baldwin County School Board had appointed Veazey and McCartney to the Orange Beach posts in a Jan. 17 meeting, the same meeting where the board refused to sign Mackey’s final decree on the separation. It’s likely headed to court.
Being contract employees unlike tenured teachers, principals can be transferred at the discretion of the school board. Despite reporting he had 81 applications for the Orange Beach positions, Tyler recommended transferring Veazey and McCartney — neither of whom applied — to Orange Beach effective Feb. 1.
Corcoran said Gulf Shores didn’t want the principals by continuing their current contracts with Baldwin County. Gulf Shores wanted to negotiate their own new contracts if Veazey and Kyle McCartney turned out to be the top candidates for those jobs.