Archived Story

City approves Robinson’s dual role

Published 12:53pm Friday, March 15, 2013

Statute allows commission, school board positions to be held simultaneously

With an upcoming appointment to the Alexander City School Board approaching, city leaders are addressing a discrepancy in the qualifications.

According to a document produced by Alexander City, prospective school board members cannot be a member of the city council or county commission – a stipulation that would mean disqualification for a current sitting member of both the school board and the county commission, Steve Robinson.

But city attorney Larkin Radney said the included qualification is simply an error in drafting the document.

“That is an error,” Radney said. “The statute that states the qualifications simply says that the school board member cannot be on the city council or commission. ‘Commission’ means a city form of city government. It did not mean the county commission.”

The state statute, as laid out in Alabama Code 16–11–2, reads, “The general administration and supervision of the public schools and educational interest of each city shall be vested in a city board of education, to be composed of five members who shall be residents of the city, and who shall not be members of the city council or commission.”

Radney said discussion with the city clerk revealed the city’s intent to follow statute – which means the restriction on county commission members can’t be enforced and should not have been included.

“The city council could never have a more stringent qualification than the state legislature has set out in statute,” Radney said.

The original intent – to bar city commission members – is to eliminate an inherent conflict of interest, Radney said, since the city commission would appoint the members of the school board.

Mayor Charles Shaw said he’s glad Robinson is qualified for both positions and he believes the line in the city document was a simple typo.

“He’s still qualified,” Shaw said. “Steve had checked that out with the attorney general’s office and the ethics commission before he accepted county commission … (and) he does a very good job at both positions.”

Randney said the only potential conflict that could arise for someone with a dual city school board/county commission position would be if there was a county commission vote on a sales tax referendum that would benefit the school system.

“He would have to recuse himself on that sort of vote,” Radney said.

Radney said approximately 15 cities in Alabama use the commission system of government.