State Superintendent Michael Sentance has submitted his resignation


Michael Sentance, Alabama’s new Superintendent of Education

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Governor Kay Ivey's Office has confirmed that State Superintendent Michael Sentance submitted his resignation to her office.

Two education sources earlier confirmed to WHNT News 19 that Alabama State Superintendent Michael Sentance had reached an agreement to resign.

A statement from the governor's office says in part, “Today, I received the resignation of State Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance. I do not take this situation lightly, and as President of the State Board of Education, I will ask the Board to accept his resignation."

Sentance has been embattled for months, and some close to the situation have told WHNT News 19 they expected him to be fired by the state school board.

The state school board's vice president had called for evaluations of Sentance's performance. Huntsville-area board member Mary Scott Hunter had vocally opposed the process.

“I chose not to respond because I did not want to confer legitimacy on what I saw as an unfair and illegitimate process,” Hunter said.

Hunter told WHNT News 19 in July that she thought the evaluation process would be used to justify Sentance's firing.

At the time, Board Member Yvette Richardson said the board had met all the way back in March and expressed concerns to Sentance.

Governor Ivey said in her statement, "Over the past two years, Alabama has experienced far too many changes in state government.  As with previous changes in leadership positions, we will use the pending resignation of the state superintendent as an opportunity to move forward and begin a new chapter in public education."

Hunter told WHNT News 19 Wednesday, "Now, it's gut check time."

While she had publicly supported Sentance in the past, she recognizes that this step needed to take place.

"It's time to close that door and move on," she said. "Mr. Sentance obviously wants to move on or he wouldn't have offered his resignation. And we have some important decisions to make moving forward."

Hunter said she initially voted to hire Sentance because she looked forward to reform. But she said issues got in the way.

"The leader has to be able to articulate those [reforms,]" she said. "It's not enough for it just to be in your head. And that's kind of the problem we saw here. A lot of great ideas, no doubt about that, but as a leader you also have to translate those ideas into action," she explained.

She heard from him Wednesday morning. She said he told her about his decision to resign and that he seemed regretful.

"I think he thought he was doing important work here, and he was, and he was sorry that it didn't work out," she explained.

Hunter believes now is the time for the board to not only come together, but begin to think about its action recently. She wants to see a Code of Conduct and more annual board training, with term limits and other changes in place.

She said in the more immediate future, the board needs to identify some candidates and vote on an interim superintendent Thursday. Hunter said they will look for a more "consensus candidate" that they can agree will move the state department of education forward.

She has some ideas about who to nominate: "Somebody that has some serious 'creds' and has the ability to bring people together," she said.

As the board continues without Sentance, there are some big decisions it must make as a unit. They need to submit Alabama's plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on a tight deadline. Hunter said it is coming down to the wire and they need to either submit what they have or get an extension from the US Department of Education. She said this could be a challenge as Sentance departs.

"The most important thing right now is to do the right thing for students and do the right thing for our school systems and teachers," she noted.

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