Teachers rep says hiring process too secretive
by Daniel Gaddy
Aug 14, 2012 | 3361 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A local teacher’s union representative says he is concerned Jasper City Schools officials are being too secretive in the process to hire a principal for Walker High School.

Butch Sargent, local Uniserv director for the Alabama Education Association, said he believes the Jasper City Board of Education appointed a committee to narrow down the list of candidates. He said the board organized the group during a July meeting held in Cullman County in an effort to discourage members of the public to attend the meeting.

Sargent said that since the committee has not conducted its work in public, the group is in violation of Alabama’s open meetings law.

Superintendent Robert Sparkman said there is no committee, but he has consulted teachers, administrators and board members during the process of finding a candidate.

“As superintendent, I have the responsibility to make that decision,” he said. “No one else can do so. I have at all times explained to people that the position of Walker High School principal is so important that I would make the decision based on my professional judgment.”

Sparkman also said that at no time did a quorum of the board gather to deliberate on whom to select as principal of Walker High School.

Sparkman said he has followed the advice of the school district’s attorney to ensure that he has not violated the Alabama Open Meetings Act.

The Jasper City Board of Education will hold a called meeting at noon today to vote on Sparkman’s recommendation.

Walker High’s former principal, Jeremy Crigger, left the position for one with Mountain Brook High School.

Last year, Sargent and a group of teachers presented the board with a survey filled out by 61 Walker High School teachers, the majority of whom indicated that they were unsatisfied with Crigger’s leadership and communication style.

In fact, more than 80 percent of the respondents said they would describe him as a bully.

Sargent said Sparkman and the board could improve the morale at the school by being more transparent with the hiring process and considering local educators for the position.

“The Jasper City Schools have an opportunity right now to heal the community and its school,” Sargent said.