Phenix City administrator appeals job transfer

A Phenix City school system administrator appealed to the Board of Education Tuesday night to stop her transfer to an assistant principal's job at Central High School.

Marcy Sherfield, executive administrative assistant of personnel and student services, was told by interim Superintendent Rod Hinton in April she would be moved out of the central office and into the high school.

She asked the board of education for a personnel conference, which she and her attorney, Stanley Gray of Tuskegee, Ala., agreed to open to the public.

A board decision will not likely come until Thursday.

Hinton, who has been running the school system since the board parted ways with former Superintendent Larry DiChiara in November, said that Sherfield's move was not a demotion, and it was designed to get her the experience she needed to progress.

"I did it with a lot of prayer," Hinton said. "I have a comfort level with the decision. ... This is important in her career."

Sherfield has been with the Phenix City system for nine years and has 19 years as an educator in Alabama. Like DiChiara, she was in the Lee County, Ala., system prior to coming to Phenix City.

She has been in her current assignment since 2009, which includes duties such as personnel, hiring, overseeing testing and the guidance counselors.

"Mrs. Sherfield, this is not a demotion," Hinton said during the hearing. "It is good for her and a better fit for talent we have here. ... One of the things I thought Mrs. Sherfield needed more than anything else was experience at school level."

Sherfield told the board she did not like confrontation, then she made a case about why they should reject Hinton's recommendation.

"This may not be cut in pay, but it is a demotion," Sherfield told the board as she pointed out she was six years from retirement.

"I have dreams and aspirations to move to post-secondary education."

Her attorney agreed.

"We talk about this is not a demotion," Gray said. "I understand the legalistic thing. We need to think about practical part. There are fewer responsibilities."

One of the reasons Hinton gave was Sherfield's move was part of a reorganization designed "to get people in the right seat on the bus."

Sherfield's lawyer took exception to that, saying that Sherfield has done everything "by the book."

"I think he muddied the water when he said put the right people in the right position," Gray said after the meeting. "He did not say anything about her not being in the right position."

One of the things that Gray pointed out was that Sherfiled's classroom expertise was primarily in elementary schools.

"Her background is elementary education and you want to put her in high school?" Gray asked. "Why would you want to do that?"

The hearing was attended by a number of Phenix City ministers in newly formed Community Concerned Clergy, a group of black ministers that organized in the wake of the firing of City Manager Wallace Hunter and dismissal of Central High football coach Woodrow Lowe. The Rev. Noble Williams, pastor of Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church and the groups leader, was among those at the Sherfield hearing.

Hunter has since been reinstated.

Thomas Coley, a district representative for the Alabama Education Association, was also at the hearing.