Alabama State Board of Education

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The Alabama State Board of Education is a nine-member body which sets and authorizes the education policy for the state of Alabama for K-12 schools. The state has a separate appointed board that administers the Alabama Community College System. The governor is the ex officio president of the K-12 board and has voting privileges on all matters, although they are seldom exercised. The remaining eight members are elected to four-year terms in partisan elections from single-member districts of approximately equal population. However, most issues before the board are not necessarily considered as partisan in nature. There is no limit on the number of terms to which members may be elected. Members in Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7 are elected in the same cycle as the President of the United States, with their next election scheduled for 2020. Members in Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 are elected in the same cycle as the Governor of Alabama, with their most recent election occurring in 2018. The eight single-member districts are re-drawn by the Alabama Legislature following each di-cennial U.S. Census.

Alabama is currently one of six states that has an elected state school board[1]. The other states with elected boards are Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, and Texas. A seventh state, Ohio has a board that is a combination of elected and appointed members.

Officers of the Board[edit]

A President Pro Tem and a Vice President are chosen among the eight Board members each year to lead Board meetings in the absence of the Governor. Of the current eight members, six are Republicans and two are Democrats. Six of the board members are female, two of which are African-American (Ms. Richardson and Ms. Ella Bell) and two are male (Mr. Newman and Mr. Reynolds). A state Superintendent of Education is appointed by the board to serve as its secretary and executive officer, although he has no vote on issues before the Board.

Notable Board History[edit]

The first African-American to serve on the Alabama State Board of Education was Peyton Findley (1871-1873), he was from Lafayette in Chambers County and at his birth in 1824 was "free-born." Active in the Republican Party after the Civil War, during the Reconstruction Period, he served a single term on the State School Board. Among his contributions was the introduction of a measure to the Board to create Alabama's first institution of higher-learning for blacks. It was first located in Marion in Perry County and initially called the Lincoln Normal School. In 1887, it was re-located to Montgomery and renamed. Today, it is the nation's third oldest "historically-black" college, Alabama State University. The first African-American woman to serve on the Alabama State Board was Democrat Ethel H. Hall (1987-2011) of Fairfield, Jefferson County.

One recent Board member was Al Thompson, he was appointed to a vacancy on the Board by Governor Robert Bentley in June, 2014 but he resigned in mid-2015 to take a similar position on the new governing body of the Alabama two-year college system. Governor Bentley replaced him with Matthew Brown of Fairhope in Baldwin County on July 16, 2015. Thompson and Brown successively followed board member, Tracy Roberts, who had resigned for undisclosed "personal reasons" after just one and one-half years on the board. Mr. Brown was defeated for re-nomination by Jackie Ziegler on April 12, 2016, but remained as a member of the Board until his term expired in January, 2017. From the end of Reconstruction until 1986, no Republicans were elected to the Alabama State Board of Education. That year, Spencer Bachus (1987-1991) won 57% of the vote in District 6, dislodging a 26-year Democrat incumbent and becoming the first Republican on the Board in over 100 years. In 1998, the GOP won four of the eight elected seats and achieved a majority in 2008. Democrats usually no longer contest the six Republican held seats and the GOP did not contest either of the black-majority Democrat held seats at their most recent respective elections. There is currently one vacancy on the board due to the death of District 5 member Ella Bell (2001-2019) who passed away on November 3, 2019.

Board Members[edit]

Members of the board include:[2]

  • President (The Governor of Alabama) - Kay Ivey
  • Superintendent/Secretary - Dr. Eric Mackey
  • Board Members:
    • District 1: Jackie Zeigler, (R) (2017-present)
    • District 2: Tracie West, (R) (2019-present)
    • District 3: Stephanie W. Bell, (R) (1995-present)
    • District 4: Dr. Yvette M. Richardson, (D) (2011-present)
    • District 5: VACANT
    • District 6: Dr. Cynthia S. McCarty, (R) (2015-present)
    • District 7: Jeffrey Newman, (R) (2013-present
    • District 8: Wayne Reynolds, (R) (2019-present)

Past Board Members (Partial List)[3][edit]

  • Spencer Bachus (R) (1987-1991)
  • Ella B. Bell (D) (2001-2019)
  • Matthew Brown (R) (2015-2017)
  • Dr. David F. Byers, Jr. (R) (1995-2011)
  • Bradley Byrne (R) (1999-2005)
  • Mary Jane Caylor (D) (1995-2011)
  • Dan Cleckler (D) (1991-1999)
  • Bettye Fine Collins (R) (1991-1995)
  • Dr. Charles E. Elliott (R) (2011-2015)
  • Peyton Findley (R) (1871-1873)
  • Ethel H. Hall (D) (1987-2011)
  • G. J. "Dutch" Higginbotham (D)(R) (1995-2003)
  • Mary Scott Hunter (R) (2011-2019)
  • Howard C. Martin (D) (1963-1987)
  • Randy McKinney (R) (2005-2013)
  • Willie J. Paul (D)1987-2003)
  • Betty Peters (R) (2003-2019)
  • Victor Poole (D) (1963-1995)
  • Sandra Ray (D) (1995-2009)
  • Tracy Roberts (R) (2013-2014)
  • Steadman S. Shealy, Jr. (D) (1987-1995)
  • Tazewell Shepard (D) (1991-1995)
  • Isabelle B. Thomasson (D) (1987-1995)
  • Al Thompson (R) (2014-2015)
  • John Tyson, Jr. (D) (1981-1995)
  • Gary B. Warren (R) (2009-2013)


The Board is also responsible for appointing the Superintendent who also serves at the pleasure of the Board. The most recent superintendent was Michael Sentance, who resigned on September 12, 2017. Former Superintendent, Dr. Ed Richardson was named Interim Superintendent by the Board on September 14, 2017. He can serve up to two full six month terms during which time the Board will search for a permanent replacement.[4] Dr. Eric Mackey was named as the 37th Superintendent in state history in a 5-4 vote by the Board on April 20, 2018. Dr. Mackey was at the time Executive Director of the Alabama Association of School Superintendents.[5]

Past Superintendents (Partial list)[edit]

  • Austin R. Meadows (1954-1963?)
  • Ernest Stone (1967)
  • Dr. Leroy Brown (1971-1975)
  • Dr. Wayne Teague (1975-1995)
  • Dr. Ed Richardson (1995-2004)
  • Dr. Joseph B. Morton (2004-2011)
  • Dr. Thomas R. Bice (2011-2016)
  • Dr. Phillip Cleveland (2016) (Interim)
  • Michael Sentance (2016-2017)
  • Dr. Ed Richardson (2017-2018) (Interim)


  1. ^ Brandon Moseley, Alabama Political Reporter, 5/10/2019
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-17. Retrieved 2010-09-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Alabama Secretary of State, election results
  4. ^, Sept. 14, 2017
  5. ^ Trisha Powell Crain,, April 20, 2017

External links[edit]