Alabama school superintendent makes headlines asking for donations in exchange for early release

Eddie Tyler
Superintendent Eddie Tyler [Photo via Tyler's youtube video]

Eddie Tyler Superintendent of Baldwin County Public Schools has made headlines for a series of emails he sent last year to teachers and staff soliciting charity donations, and incentivizing contributions with early release from school.

A series of Nov. 2017 emails were obtained by the Independent Press Journal (IPJ) from a source within Baldwin County Public Schools who wishes to remain anonymous. The emails were sent from Baldwin County Board of Education (BCBE) to all teachers and staff within their school district.

According to IPJ, the emails begin with Executive Director of the United Way of Baldwin County, Inc. (UWBC) Marina Simpson pressing Tyler for more donations. On Nov. 27, Simpson said:

“Unfortunately, the campaign dropped this year to 78,448.92… this number includes a combination payroll deduction, one-time donations made by BCBE employees, and any student campaigns that were held (we only have a few schools that do student campaigns).”

Two days later, Tyler emailed all teachers and staff within the Baldwin County school district requesting donations to the UWBC, all the while incentivizing donations with early release from school:

“we value our continuing partnership with Marina Simpson …. If our contributions meet or exceed $90K, the system will release students at 11:30 and ALL teachers at 1:00 the Friday before Christmas holidays 12/15/2017. If we as a system reach or exceed $100K, we will have a second early release day the Friday before Mardi Gras.”

Tyler requested donations again on Dec. 6.

“Time is running out. To make a decision about the early release, giving will be tallied at the end of the school day this coming Friday.”

Tyler’s quid pro quo requests are nothing new

While news of Tyler’s requests have just surfaced, he’s apparently made a practice of collecting funds on behalf of the UWBC and “rewarding” schools with early release for years.

A youtube video from Nov. 2016 shows Tyler introducing Simpson who announced the school system has reached their goal of $75,000 donations, and thus have been “awarded” early release.

Ethical issues

According to IPJ, many Baldwin County teachers feel pressured to give, or else risk their reputation.

A teacher told IPJ that BCBE officials place pledge cards and donation information in their mailboxes, and if staff don’t fill it out, then they are treated differently. “We’re pressured until we finally just do it to get them off our backs,” said a teacher.

Sources also report that when teachers have not donated or filled-out their pledge cards for UWBC in the past, school officials have allowed a UWBC representative named Lana Mummah to come into the school and talk those teachers into donating.

Lana Mummah is married to Ken Mummah, who is a former BCBE official.

The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) has yet to respond to Alabama Today’s request for comment.