Group wants to get rid of Opp Board of Education member

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 7, 2017

A group of concerned parents and residents of Opp will meet next Thursday night in reference to a series of events and whether they believe an Opp Board of Education member should continue to serve on the board.

Aaron Bogen, leader of the group, said that community members are working to get locals to sign a petition to remove board member Scotty Short from the BOE.

Bogen is upset because at a special-called meeting late last month, Short expressed concern for giving students who participate in extracurricular activities stiffer punishment.

Bogen was not present at the meeting.

The board of education has an extensive discussion about that issue after several student-athletes faced consequences for allegedly stealing money from classrooms.

The board, along with Superintendent Michael Smithart discussed current protocol for dealing with such situations and Short expressed his concern for repeat offenders.

During the discussion, Short said that he believed that “right is right and wrong is wrong.”

Since the meeting, charges have been filed in juvenile court against the four students who allegedly stole money and they are facing theft charges.

Bogen alleged that Short was the one who instigated the charges.

“We just want to give some direction to help,” Short said Wednesday. “Have some guidelines where everything is fair. I do not know anything about the kids. I do not know anything about warrants against these kids and I do not personally know these kids or their parents. I have nothing against the kids.”

Bogen said he was also upset because he feels that Short shouldn’t be serving since he was involved in an ethics complaint from his tenure on the Opp City Council.

“How can you be judging these kids when you got an ethics situation?” he said. “We want Scotty Short removed. He doesn’t need to be on a board after his ethics issues. We are going to get a petition. We feel he’s against these children.”

Bogen was referencing an August 2013 issue where the Alabama Ethics Commission said that Short used his construction company to do nearly $50,000 in work for the city while he was a sitting councilman.

The minor violation occurred when Stonewall Enterprises, and in turn, then-councilman Scotty Short, was paid by the city to construct two bathroom facilities.

Both facilities are located in the city park at the recreational facility located on Barnes Street.

Total cost for the projects was $66,307 –$48,550 for labor and $17,757 for materials.

Short’s request to the commission for administrative resolution for the case was granted and he faced up to a $1,000 fine.

Short said Wednesday that he cleared the ethics complaint up.

“When it was all said and done, the state did not find that I made one penny off the project,’ he said. “I gave everything to the state to prove that not one penny went into my pocket. It was dropped.”

Short said the only thing he pleaded guilty to was not having the proper paperwork for the job for which he oversaw for the city.

“We checked on it, but we failed to sign one form,” he said. “That was on me, the city clerk at the time and the mayor at the time.”

Bogen said that this is just another part of what he calls an ongoing saga against black children in Opp.

He did say that he appreciated the route that OHS Principal Aaron Hightower and Smithart took with the theft issue.

Bogen said that any locals who wish to voice their concerns about issues in the community, are asked to meet next Thursday, at 6 p.m., at St. Stephenson Church on Hardin Street.

“We are going to let the children and the grown people speak,” he said. “This is urgent and we need help. I call on all our ministers to step up. You need to stop turning your head and standup for kids. God doesn’t like you to turn your head. Use your leadership position for good. I’m asking all the ministers to attend.”