Demopolis BOE removes Griffin; appoints Costanzo interim

The Demopolis City Schools Board of Education parted ways with outgoing superintendent Dr. Al Griffin Thursday morning during a special called meeting.

“Since the end of the school year is now here, the board and Al Griffin felt like it was time to part ways amicably,” board attorney Alex Braswell said. “He’ll be paid all the way through June 30. He’ll get all his sick days and vacation days. All that will be paid out per his contract.”

“It was a mutual agreement. We all hugged each other’s neck and we wished each other well,” Griffin said. “The school system is fine. I completely understand. They have an interim in and that’s the direction. My phone is always available if they have any questions. I will always hold this city and this school system very dear to my heart.”​

Griffin announced his retirement March 30, a move that was accepted by the Demopolis BOE April 7. Griffin is set to take over the reigns of AISA-affiliated Autauga Academy beginning next academic year. Griffin, who took over the top seat of DCS in June 2010 after serving as principal at Goshen High School, intended to leave his post June 30 before Thursday’s action following an executive session negated that plan.

“Al will go on to Autauga Academy and the board went on and hired (Dr.) Frank Costanzo. He’ll serve as our interim. He’ll start Tuesday morning, May 26,” Braswell said.

Costanzo served as superintendent of Tuscaloosa County Schools until his retirement March 1, 2011.

According to a Dec. 2011 story in The Tuscaloosa News, Costanzo began his education career as a bus driver, teacher and coach in 1973 in Shelby County before running Southern Academy in Greensboro from 1975 to 1982 and then Warrior Academy in Eutaw from 1982 to 1987. He return to public education came in 1987 when he took an assistant principal job at Brookwood High School. Costanzo ascended to the superintendent’s chair in 2003.

“They’re going to have an interim starting. Dr. Costanzo used to be the superintendent in Tuscaloosa County and did an excellent job and he will be an excellent interim to bridge the gap between myself and the newly-hired superintendent,” Griffin said. “He has been a superintendent for a lot of years and I have everything ready for him and he’ll be able to step right in.”

Costanzo becomes the second former Tuscaloosa County superintendent to temporarily run the Demopolis City Schools system. Dr. Neil Hyche served as superintendent for Tuscaloosa County from 1986 until 1996 and then filled the Demopolis head job in an interim capacity in the wake of Dr. Wayne Vickers’ departure. Hyche was the Demopolis interim superintendent from the summer 2009 until Griffin’s hiring in June 2010.

In other action during the Thursday morning meeting, the board accepted the resignation of Kevin May and opened the corresponding physical education teacher position at Westside Elementary School. The board also voted to officially post the special education spot at Demopolis Middle School that is being vacated by Angela Sanders, who tendered her resignation earlier this semester.

“We’ve had a bunch of resignations and a couple of retirements and this ended up being a blessing because the budget from Montgomery hasn’t been released,” Braswell said. “I think we’re going to be able tiptoe around pink slipping people. We may have to flip some people around, but I don’t think we’re going to have to pink slip anybody.”