Tensions Flare at Montgomery Co. School Board Meeting

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By Heather VacLav

What started as a routine meeting of the Montgomery County school board turns into an all-out argument between board member Mary Brier and the board president Charlotte Meadows.
Mary Briers, surprised the board when she pulled out a letter, written by President Meadows. Meadows wants to know how Briers got the letter, she says it's a draft to ask the state to take over the Montgomery school system.
All of it ignited name-calling and finger pointing – CBS-8 News caught it all on video.
President Charlotte Meadows was seated next to Superintendent Barbara Thompson, and their expressions made it clear, they were not happy with one another.
“We weren't told on Tuesday we had to have it read by noon today,” Meadows shouted to Thompson over an added issue to the agenda.
Thompson disagreed but Meadows said, “You aren’t hearing what I'm saying, you are missing the point.”
The argument went back and forth between president Charlotte Meadows and Mary Briers as they hashed it out over the draft letter Briers handed out to the board.
Briers declared to the board “[Charlotte] you have a bucket list, and at the top of that bucket list is to get rid of the superintendent.”
“It’s always the personal jab back and forth at the superintendent,” Briers said about Meadows.
“I am going to be begging the state department of education to be taking over this school system,” Meadows said. “This is not the time I would have picked to do that, nor is this the place I would have took to do that, however with Mrs. Briar's continued attacks on me personally and now professionally, I have no choice.”
Superintendent Barbara Thompson did not respond directly to the attacks against her but she did say Meadows letter broke the School Board’s rules and responsibilities code. “There's a difference between what a board president can do and what the individual board members can do, and I really think that's what Mrs. Briars was trying to clarify,” Thompson said.
“She tells the superintendent, I'm the board president, you can’t tell me what to do,” Briers said. “I just think its petty, its immature, and the children in this system are suffering.”
When CBS-8 News asked Barbara Thompson about Charlotte Meadows goal to remove her as superintendent she said, “I really feel that there are lots of accomplishments and things that we've done in this school district and I think that speaks for itself.”
“As Todd Strange likes to say, and I respect the mayor,” Meadows said. “As so goes education, so goes Montgomery.”
“If we don’t fix MPS, then MPS is going to be the straw that broke the camel's back of Montgomery, Alabama,” Meadows said before leaving the meeting.
The school board did get some work accomplished before the arguments took over. They passed unanimously the Continuous Improvement Plans DVDs, and also support to apply for the “Race o the Top” grant to bring more technology to Montgomery schools.
The investigation into allegations that grades were changed at some Montgomery schools has put the system under new scrutiny, and led to two investigations.
School board president Charlotte Meadows says she's optimistic the district will have a conclusion in the next two weeks.

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