The superintendent of Alabama’s schools sent a letter to the Birmingham Board of Education Thursday ordering the board not to fire anyone at the senior executive level, which would include Birmingham Schools Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon, until after an investigation into the Birmingham BOE is completed by the state. The letter also instructs the Birmingham BOE to preserve all its records during the investigation.
Alabama State Schools Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice launched the investigation into the Birmingham BOE after the state BOE unanimously passed a resolution supporting an investigation on Thursday. Several members of the Birmingham BOE requested intervention from the state at a meeting Tuesday in which two members made motions to terminate Witherspoon — both attempts were foiled by the board’s own procedural rules — and the board voted twice, in 5-4 votes, not to extend Witherspoon’s contract.
The letter, which is addressed to Birmingham BOE President Edward Maddox, demands that the board, superintendent and administrative staff preserve “all books, records, documents, minutes, memoranda, notices, correspondence, all forms of electronic communication, and files pertaining to the agendas of any and every Birmingham Board meeting, work session, committee meeting, or meeting of any kind” relating to Birmingham BOE business.
The letter also instructs the board not to fire Witherspoon until the investigation is complete:
“Until my review is complete, I expect no action to be taken by the Birmingham Board or any of its officials that would disrupt or interfere with the investigation or with the execution of the Birmingham Board’s administrative or educational functions,” Bice’s letter reads. “Specifically, the board is not to initiate or approve any adverse personnel action at the senior executive level during the review and investigation without prior written approval from this office.”
The investigation is expected to last about two months.