JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Several of Alabama’s largest school districts are asking the state to repeal the Alabama Accountability Act.
Jefferson County Schools passed a resolution Thursday saying the act, which issues an annual failing schools list, was “a scheme from the start.”
“First of all it was deceptively created,” Jefferson County superintendent, Dr. Craig Pouncey, said, “It does not do what it – on the surface – says it does and it’s intended basically for a tax scheme that benefits strictly a small percentage of students in the state.”
Pouncey is not mincing words about Alabama’s Accountabiliy Act.
“Our Jeff Co board passed a resolution calling on the Jeff Co legislative delegation to take the lead in abolishing the Alabama Accountability Act,” Pouncey said.
The act that passed in 2013 makes it possible for students attending failing schools to get scholarship money taken from Alabama’s education trust fund. In 2018, it amounted to $30 million for private schools.
Southern Poverty Law Center action fund attorney Mike Tafelski issued the following statement:
“Through AAA, taxpayer dollars are going to private organizations that, in the process of giving out scholarships, profit off public money. Every dollar taken out of the Education Trust Fund is a dollar stripped from Alabama public schools, which are already starved for resources.”
The Center Point High School Principal Van Phillips agrees with Jefferson County School’s vote against the act.
“I applaud the action of the board because boards are now beginning to stand up and say something about this is not right,” Phillips said, “Because the way the law is created there will always be failing schools in Alabama.”
Center Point High School is one of the schools on the failing schools list.
“That list was done to pull money out of the educational trust fund,” Phillips said. “We ought to call a thing a thing in Alabama if we want vouchers we ought to create a voucher system, but don’t label or stigmatize communities of color and communities where there is a high concentration of low income families.”
Baldwin, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tallapoosa County, and Russellville City Schools District all passed resolutions to repeal the Alabama Accountability Act.
Alabama Senator Del Marsh sponsored the act. It allows private donations to scholarship funds, which can be claimed as tax deductions.