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Alabama Issues Draft ESSA Plan Amid Tensions Between State Chief, Board

Alabama state superintendent Michael Sentance, who will be tasked with crafting and executing the state's plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act, is under fire by the state board for his communication and leadership style and the department's attempted takeover of Montgomery, Ala., public schools. 

Sentance was hired as Alabama's top education chief last September, an especially awkward time for the state's educators.

The governor at the time, Robert Bentley, a Republican rocked by scandal, had said just a handful of weeks before that the state's public school system "sucks." The state was under investigation by the federal government for inflating its high school graduation rates. And local superintendents were in an uproar over the state's accountability system, which they said unfairly graded their schools. 

A year later, Bentley has resigned, the state has revised its published graduation rates, and Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican and former high school teacher, now sits as the chair of the state's board of education.  

The board's criticism of Sentance came during an especially lively meeting Tuesday where board members suddenly said they wanted to evaluate Sentance, who is coming up on his one year anniversary, according to Alabama.com. He has previously told the board to stop micromanaging him and the departmemt.

The board is set to give him an evaluation Tuesday which could, at worst, result in the firing of Sentance.  

Meanwhile, Sentance Wednesday released the first draft plan of the state's ESSA accountability system, which, unlike in most states, is being run by a governor-appointed task force, on which Sentance sits. The plan is due in September, and most states' departments have released several draft versions of their plans over the last year to allow for debate and responses from the public.  

The average tenure of state chiefs is around two years


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