Hoover City Attorney: City Council should not interfere with school board’s bus decision

Published 8:22 pm Monday, November 18, 2013

By CASSANDRA MICKENS / Associate Editor

HOOVER — During its Nov. 18 regular meeting, the Hoover City Council bowed out of discussion regarding the Hoover Board of Education’s decision to cut bus service next school year, leaving many in attendance stunned and upset.

Hoover City Attorney Charlie Waldrep cited the 1966 state Supreme Court case Day v. Andrews, explaining that school boards act as independent agents which operate free of interference by governing bodies.

Waldrep recommended residents and parents voice their concerns to the Hoover school board and the state Board of Education instead.

“It would be inappropriate for the council to interfere or attempt to influence decisions made by the Hoover Board of Education,” Waldrep said. “It’s not the purpose of the city council to be involved in the board’s business.”

Following Waldrep’s comments, the city council adjourned its meeting and exited the council chambers while the audience looked on in disbelief.

About 10 minutes after the meeting adjourned, City Councilman Gene Smith returned to the council chambers to moderate an informal discussion about a $30,000 study he personally funded to measure the impact of the bus cuts on property values and socioeconomic conditions. The study concluded the bus cuts would have dire short-term and long-term effects on home sales, home prices, employment and retail sales.

Joe Zanola of the Zanola Co., a St. Louis-based research firm that conducted the study, was on hand to answer questions and hear comments from the audience.

Catrena Norris Carter, a parent opposed to the bus cuts, vented her frustrations to Smith and Zanola, saying the study revealed what she and other parents suspected all along.

“I find the actions of this council totally disrespectful! The people that we put in office walked out on us!” Carter exclaimed. “I’m highly offended as a citizen, as a mother who has kids in this system! Unbelievable!”