August 3 Morning Newscast

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Judge extends injunction in Birmingham Schools case; State seeks waiver from No Child Left Behind; and LSU opens 2012 ranked #1.

August 3, 2012 Morning Edition News

A Jefferson County judge is extending two temporary injunctions forbidding the Birmingham Board of Education from taking any administrative moves to fire school superintendent Craig Witherspoon (above). After two days of sometime fiery testimony, Judge Houston Brown told the school board not to take any action on Witherspoon’s contract and not to interfere with the state takeover of the school system. Tom Stewart is the attorney for the Birmingham board of Education.

On the other side of the fight, attorney David Boyd represents the State Department of Education.

If the local board doesn’t submit a balanced, approved budget to the state by September 1st, the state – legally speaking – has no choice but to withhold funding, which in itself would shut down the system. That could also trigger a loss of federal funding. Judge Brown gave both sides till next Wednesday to turn in more briefs or evidence. He could issue a ruling on permanent injunctions very soon after. Brown has tried to move things along, since school is set to start August 20. We’ve got extensive coverage of this week’s court proceedings here.

Alabama education officials say they’ll ask the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver from one provision of the No Child Left Behind law. Deputy State Superintendent Sherrill Parris says they will ask the feds to wave the provision that requires all students perform at a proficient level in math and reading by 2014. Thirty-three other states have already received waivers. Alabama’s waiver request will be based on implementing a state-developed plan that calls for all high school graduates to be prepared to get a job or pass first-year courses in a university, community college or technical school without remediation.

A judge is delaying the last sentencing in Alabama’s gambling corruption case. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins granted a request from former Country Crossing casino lobbyist Jennifer Pouncy to delay her sentencing from Aug. 29 to Sept. 26. She sought the delay to allow more time to study a presentencing report that’s due from federal probation officers by August 22. Pouncy has admitted offering bribes to legislators to support pro-gambling legislation. Country Crossing’s developer also pleaded guilty and received seven years. Another lobbyist and a state lawmakers were sentenced to five year.

The Alabama Department of Revenue says taxpayers should be on the lookout for an email scam that is using the department’s name. The emails say the taxpayer has been awarded gift cards or other prizes from the Department of Revenue. Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee says the department does not initiate communications with taxpayers through email.

Despite its lopsided loss to Alabama in last January’s BCS national title game, LSU will open the 2012 season ranked No. 1 in at least one poll. LSU sits atop the USA Today Top 25 coach’s poll released yesterday. Alabama is second and Southern California is third.