Bentley signs Accountability Act into law

MONTGOMERY, AL (WAFF) - Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed the Alabama Accountability Act into law Thursday morning.

The law will provide tax credits to parents who send their children to private schools instead of failing public schools.

The Alabama Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a lower court order that had kept the Legislature from sending the bill to the governor for his signature.

Some educators say it is a slap in the face to everyone involved in education in the state because no one, from state education officials to teachers, was told what was going to be in the Accountability Act, and they were never given a chance to give input.

It was first called the Flexibility Bill, a way to give local educators more leeway on how they would run their schools. That was before state Republican lawmakers went back with the Accountability Act, a way, supporters say, to allow children to escape failing schools.

Decatur Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols said lawmakers would not even allow input from the state department of education, which will now be enforcing the rules of the law.

"I think it's insulting to our state superintendent. I think it was insulting to our state board of education. I think it was insulting to our state department, and to our local superintendents. And most, I think it was insulting to our teachers who work every day and do the job," he said.

"Some concerns have been raised regarding the impact of this legislation," Governor Bentley said. "The Department of Revenue and the State Department of Education are reviewing this bill and can develop responsible rules and regulations to address various concerns. The most important thing right now is to make sure our schools, our families and our children have the tools they need. This bill gives them that flexibility."

GOP lawmakers passed around a list of more than 200 failing schools in Alabama. Two of them were in Decatur. But the superintendent said there is no official list of failing schools, and he's not even sure what qualifies a school as failing.

Copyright 2013 WAFF. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.