Mountain Brook Schools

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Mountain Brook Schools is an independent school system operated by the City of Mountain Brook. It was founded in 1959. The system includes six schools. The superintendent is Dicky Barlow. The system's administrative offices are located in the Charles Mason Building near Crestline Elementary School.

In 2021 the system was awarded $4,130,948 ($944/student) in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.



Board of Education

The Mountain Brook Board of Education has five members, appointed to staggered terms by the Mountain Brook City Council. The board meets on the second Monday of each month. In 2006 the Board of Education moved to a new $3.44 million, 19,000 square-foot administrative office and staff development center. The new two-story building, designed by Paul B. Krebs & Associates and built by Stone Building Co. is clad in stucco and rough stone with a natural slate roof.


Diversity Committee

A recommendation in the system's strategic plan, made more urgent by incidents of antisemitism involving Mountain Brook students shared on social media, led the system to convene a "Diversity Committee" in 2020. It was co-chaired by Crestline Elementary principal Christy Christian and parent Al Cohn. Among its recommendations were for each school to offer diversity programming to faculty and students and to develop partnerships with local and national organizations engaged in anti-bias efforts. For faculty and staff, the school system offered a program developed by the Anti-Defamation League. The board had considered, but decided not to implement, an ADL program for schools entitled "No Place for Hate". In June 2021 an anonymously-published 12-page "Resource Guide to the Anti-Defamation League" was circulated, characterizing the organization as activists seeking to indoctrinate and recruit school children as "left-wing political operatives," and expressing suspicions that the system's statement that they were dissociating themselves from the ADL was dishonest. The Atlanta office of the Anti-Defamation League issued a press release condemning the "Resource Guide" for mischaracterizing its work and programs. In July board spokesperson William Galloway said that the system would continue to develop its own anti-bias programs, but did not announce a timeline for implementing them. In August Superintendent Dicky Barlow said that the system was prioritizing reopening plans during the COVID-19 pandemic and putting plans for a new diversity program "on hold".

In January 2022 Mountain Brook High School soccer coach and history teacher Joe Webb had students demonstrate the "Bellamy salute" used during the Pledge of Allegiance before its association with the German Nazi party prompted Americans to change to a hand-over-heart alternative. Jewish students in the class declined to participate and one later shared a photo and video of the demonstration on social media. That student was told by assistant principal Jeremy Crigger to apologize to Webb for sharing the images without permission and out of context.

Organized opposition to the system's diversity programs and COVID safety measures by "Mountain Brook Families" later expanded to criticisms of "social and emotional learning" (SEL),a long-standing component of Mountain Brook's curriculum which introduces topics such as empathy and conflict resolution, along with discussion of inappropriate touching and harassment.


  • Crain, Trisha Powell (May 13, 2020) "Jewish Federation concerned about video of Mountain Brook children drawing swastika." The Birmingham News
  • Markham, Madoline (May 1, 2021) "A Wider Perspective: The Mountain Brook Schools Diversity Committee" Mountain Brook magazine
  • "Mountain Brook Families: A Resource Guide to the Anti-Defamation League" (June 14, 2021) self-published
  • Seale, Michael (June 16, 2021) "Mountain Brook Acts On Diversity Committee Recommendations."
  • Seale, Michael (June 22, 2021) "Mtn. Brook Schools To Disassociate With Anti-Defamation League."
  • "ADL Responds to Attacks On Anti-Bias Education in Mountain Brook Schools" (June 22, 2021) press release
  • Griesbach, Rebecca (June 28, 2021) "Mountain Brook backtracks on anti-bias training after parent criticism links to critical race theory." The Birmingham News
  • Johnson, Roy S. (July 2, 2021) "Don’t want to be known as racist, Mountain Brook? Let educators, children learn beyond your fears." The Birmingham News
  • Crain, Trisha Powell (July 13, 2021) "Mountain Brook promises anti-bias training will be developed locally." The Birmingham News
  • Crain, Trisha Powell (October 25, 2021) "Alabama schools got $3 billion in federal COVID relief money. Where did it go?" The Birmingham News
  • Brook, Larry (February 8, 2022) "Classroom “Nazi Salute” controversy at Mountain Brook High School." Southern Jewish Life.
  • Griesbach, Rebecca (February 14, 2022) "Mountain Brook school reviewing social skills program amid conservative pushback." The Birmingham News

External links