MONTGOMERY — An Alabama senator is sponsoring legislation he says will improve the state Department of Education's process of intervening in troubled schools.

In 2013, Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, successfully sponsored the Educational Accountability and Intervention Act — not to be confused with the Accountability Act — that outlined a process for the state to take over academically struggling school systems.

"There have been very successful interventions in Montgomery, (Selma) and Midfield City," said Brewbaker, chairman of the Senate committee on education policy, said Monday.

But the state lacks flexibility in changing what can be addressed in an intervention, Brewbaker said. "In the original legislation, we didn't give them a process to amend an intervention," he said.

If the state goes into a system because of poor academic performance and then finds safety issues, it has to begin again the intervention process — including getting approval from the state board of education — to address those safety issues.

State Superintendent Tommy Bice supports the legislation.

"Regretfully there are situations, the exception not the norm, where state intervention is warranted to keep local schools and school systems academically and financially sound," Bice said. "Sen. Brewbaker worked with us to pass the current Intervention Act and is working with us heading into the legislative session to make certain revisions to streamline the process so valuable time for students is not lost when intervention and state takeover is warranted."

The Senate Bill 18 also says the state can intervene if "a majority of students have failed to meet the state-approved benchmark for state standards."

Three school systems are under some level of state intervention: Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham City systems. Midfield City has been released from state intervention.

Mary Sell covers state government for The Decatur Daily. She can be reached at Follow on Twitter @DD_MarySell.
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