Jackie Zeigler criticizes State School Board move to disqualify interim superintendent

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Jackie and Jim Zeigler

State School Board candidate Jackie Zeigler on Monday criticized a recent move by the board to disqualify the interim superintendent they are set to hire from serving in the role permanently.

The board voted by consensus last week to both hire an interim State Superintendent to fill a vacancy, but then voted 5-4 to make that hire ineligible to stay on the job beyond a brief provisional period.

The move lowers the stakes for the decision to be made April 14 by the board – two days after April 12 elections – but also automatically eliminates a possible candidate who has passed vetting by the body.

Jackie Zeigler – the wife of state auditor Jim Zeigler – declared her opposition to the move in a statement Tuesday.

“This does not make common sense,” Jackie Zeigler said.  “You always want the best superintendent – even if that person was serving as interim. On-the-job training is sometimes the best training. The best proving ground may be doing the job on a temporary basis,” she added.

Zeigler used an anecdotal example of Mobile County Superintendent Martha Peek, who was hired on by the county system to stay on after three attempts to vet a permanent successor failed.

“It proved the correct decision. She has been highly evaluated,” said Zeigler.
“The interim can legally serve for a year. Since that person is now disqualified from consideration for permanent, your best people will not apply for interim,” she said, saying the move to disqualify could undermine the point of the interim search process.

The motion to disqualify the eventual interim pick was made by board member Matt Brown, who Zeigler is challenging next month. Brown was appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley, a frequent target of public criticism by Jim Zeigler.

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