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STATE OFALABAM^A.

OFFTcE oF THE ArronNev GeNgn.er-


5OI V,ASHINGTONAI/ENUE
STEVENT. MARSHALL P.O. BOX300152
ATTORNEY GENERAL
MONTGOMERY, AL 361 3OOI 52
13341242.7900
M.AGO.ffi.@V

July 17, 2017

Honorable Michael Sentance


State Superintendent of Education
Department of Education
Post Office Box 302101
Montgomery, Alabama 361 30-2 I 01

State Superintendent of Education -


Education, State Board of
Education, Boards of - Educational
Accountability and Intervention Act
of 2013 - Education Accountability
- Montgomery County
Plan

The State Superintendent of


Education or the State
Superintendent's chief
administrative officer have exclusrve
authority to implement an
educational intervention under
section l6-6E-4 of the Code of
Alabama.

Dear Mr. Sentance:

This opinion of the Attorney General is issued in response to your


request.

OUESTION

Does the State Superintendent of Education


exercise independent authority over a local board
of for which the State Board of
education
Education has approved an educational
intervention?
Honorable Michael Sentance
Page 2

FACTS AND ANALYSIS

A resolution of the State Board of Education ("Board")


It authorizes an educational intervention of
accompanies your request.
the Montgomery County Board of Education under the Educational
Accountability and Intervention Act of 2013, codified in section 16-68-1,
et seq., of the Code of Alabama [Ale. CooB $$ 16-6E-1 to l6-6E-7 (Supp.
2016)). Resolution, State Board of Education (Feb. 9, 2017). The
resolution also states that a chief administrative officer has been
appointed to exercise intervention authority. Id.

This Office has explained the authority of the Board as follows:

The State Board of Education ("State


Board"), through the State Superintendent of
Education, exercises general control and
supervision over the public schools of the state,
except institutions of higher learning. Ale.
Cooe $ l6-3-11 (2001). The State Board is
given broad power to consult and advise city and
county boards of education, school
superintendents, school trustees, principals,
teachers, supervisors, and interested citizens; and
to seek in every way to direct and develop public
sentiment in support of public education. Id.;
see also Ale. CooB $$ 16-4-4, 16-4-6, 16-4-8
(2001) (additional powers granted to the state
superintendent of education).

Opinion to Honorable Jack Biddle, III, Member, Alabama State Senate,


dated April 14,2005, A.G. No. 2005 -104 at 3.

The Legislature has seen fit, however, in the area of an intervention


in the educational operations of a city or county board of education under
the act, to limit the Board's authority. The Board authorizes an
intervention by resolution on request of the State Superintendent of
Education ("State Superintendent") [Ale. Cooe $$ 16-6E-4(4) & (5)
(Supp. 2016) (Supp. 2016)1, receives an intervention status report from
the State Superintendent on request, or at a minimum, every six months"
[Are. CooB $ l6-6E-4(8) (Supp.2016)], and authorizes release from an
intervention by resolution on recommendation of the State Superintendent
Honorable Michael Sentance
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or petition of the affected board of education. Ale. Coos $ 16-6E-4(9)


(Supp. 2016).

The State Superintendent occupies the place of primacy once an


intervention is authorized. The State Superintendent is specifically tasked
with implementing the intervention either directly or indirectly "through
his or her designee acting as a chief administrative officer who shall be
appointed by, report to, and serve in such capacity at the pleasure and
under the supervision of the State Superintendent." Ale. Coor $ 16-68-
a(5) (Supp. 2016). The legislative purpose of the act states, in pertinent
part, as follows:

(1) To clarify and confirm the outhority ol


the Stste Superintendent of Etlucation to
essun e and exercise direcl und comprehensive
control over the decision making and
operational functions of city and county boards
of education when the demonstrated inability of
such boards of education to discharge
administrative, operational. or instructional
functions threatens to deprive students of
essential educational services.

Are. CooE $ l6-68-2 (Supp.2016) (Supp.2016) (emphasis added).


This broad statement of legislative intent is reinforced in the
statutes. Section l6-68-4(5) states that the State Superintendent "may
exercise plenary aathority to make such decisions or take such actions as
he or she reasonably deems necessary to correct the deficiencies that led
to the request for approval of intervention or that may be discovered in
the exercise of intervention authority." Ale. Cops $ 16-6E-4(5) (Supp.
2016) (emphasis added). "Plenary" is defined as "[{lull; complete; entire
<plenary authority>." Br,lcr<'s LAw DrcrroNeRy 134l (1Oth ed. 2014).
Section l6-6E-4(6) states that the State Superintendent "or the chief
administrative officer shall have the power and authority to act for and on
behalf of the city or county board of education and its superintendent iz
all matters and for all purposes under the Code of Alabama 1975." At l.
Coor $ l6-6E-4(6) (Supp. 2016) (emphasis added). The subsection
further states the converse of this principle for the local board of
education, emphasizing that the "city and county boards of education and
their officials and employees shall serve under the supervision and
direction of the State Superintendent of Education or the chief
administrative officer." Id. Finally, the only specific grant of authority
Honorable Michael Sentance
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discussed in the act is found in section l6-6E-4(7), which states that


"[p]ersonnel actions that the State Superintendent of Education or the
chief administrative officer deem necessary and appropriate to the
attainment of intervention objectives may be implemented directly by
such officials." Ala. Copn $ l6-6E-4(7) (Supp.2016).

The leading opinion on the relationship between a state agency head


and the agency's governing board was issued to Honorable Page B.
Walley, Ph.D., Commissioner, Department of Human Resources, dated
February 18, 2004, A.G. No. 2004-074. That opinion examined the
supervisory authority of the State Board of Human Resources over the
Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, who, like
the State Superintendent, serves at the pleasure of the appointing board.
The Walley opinion concluded that the enabling statutes gave each their
own sphere of operation. It reasoned as follows:

Although the statutes give the Board broad


approval authority in several areas, in &reas
where the Commissioner is given specific
administrative and executive authority, the
Commissioner's specific authority sapercedes
the general authority of the Board. See Opinion
of the Attorney General to Honorable Henry J.
Hector, Executive Director, Alabama
Commission on Higher Education, dated Jlune 27,
1997 , A.G. No. 97-00214.

Id. at 7 (emphasis added).


The only affirmative duties for implementing an educational
intervention provided for in the act are those for the State Superintendent
or administrative officer stated above. Neither these provisions, nor any
of the other intervention statutes, require Board approval of any of their
actions. Consistent with the Walley opinion, the State Superintendent or
administrative officer exercise intervention authority independent of the
Board.

CONCLUSION

The State Superintendent of Education or the State Superintendent's


chief administrative officer have exclusive authority to implement an
educational intervention under section l6-6E-4 of the Code of Alabama.
Honorable Michael Sentance
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Ihope this opinion answers your question. If this Office can be of


further assistance, please contact me.

Sincerely,

STEVE MARSHALL
Attorney General
By:

firMrU,tr
G. WARD BEESON, III
Chief, Opinions Section

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