During a work session on Thursday, interim state Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson announced major changes for 31 high-ranking department of Education employees.
The reorganization of the department began in October, with the overall goal being “to organize this department so that it has fewer moving parts and will be able to function better, and communicate more efficiently,” Richardson told AL.com.
The department has long been criticized for “bureaucratic bloat,” and Richardson is willing to do what is necessary to get the department back to a reasonable size.
Richardson will be reducing the number of “at-will” and “exempt” employees, and plans to realign each area within the department. “I cannot solve the issue of titles, positions, salaries without making some hard decisions, and I intend to do it.” he said.
According to Wrady & Michel, LLC, a Birmingham employment law firm; “at-will” employees are defined as employees who don’t have a written employment contract that can be terminated for any reason, or no reason at all.
In order to fix the system, Richardson recommended board members lift a resolution adopted in 2015, it was passed with former state Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice‘s endorsement.
The resolution authorized the “State Superintendent of Education to appoint individuals to serve in “at will” positions of Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Director, and Coordinator as needs and vacancies arise and report such appointments to the Alabama State Board of Education at its regularly scheduled meetings.”
“It left the door wide open both in terms of number and salary of individuals (who were hired),” said Richardson.
He also mentioned that the law requires that the employment of at-will employees ends when the superintendent who hired them leaves their office.
Richardson met with all at-will employees as a group on Friday to discuss the reorganization, and met individually with the 31 individuals to explain what their options are. “It has to be done now, that way the next superintendent doesn’t have to do this.” he told AL.com.
The department’s current organizational chart has the department split into four major administrations, with a Deputy Superintendent heading each area. Richardson’s proposed chart divides the department into two branches, instruction and administration, and reduces the number of Deputy Superintendents to two.
Richardson has served as the interim State Superintendent since September, and previously served as the Alabama State Superintendent of Education from October 1995 to January 2004.