Selma City Schools says it will not accept an "unauthorized" grant from an LGBTQ+ advocacy group after it and state education board members initially spread claims that 1819 had misreported the news about the grant.

On Thursday, 1819 News reported a grant issued to Selma High School from the It Gets Better Project, a national non-profit that seeks to "uplift, empower and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) youth around the globe." 

RELATED: Selma High School receives grant to fund LGBTQ+ literature, field trip to 'queer heritage site'

On Thursday afternoon, several members of the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) and Selma City Schools contacted 1819 News, stating an error in the report and that a high school in Selma, Calif., not Selma, Ala., received the grant.

1819 News received a call from ALSDE District 8 board member Wayne Reynolds, who claimed to have received communication from ALSDE pro tem and board member for District 5 Tonya Chestnut saying the grant information was incorrect and the money was slated for Selma, Calif. Chestnut is the member representing Selma’s school district. Reynolds represents a district in North Alabama.

When 1819 News spoke to ALSDE board member from ALSDE vice president and District 2 board member Tracie West, she also repeated the claim that the grant was for California and not Alabama.  

Selma City Schools Board chairman Johnny Moss contacted 1819 News, repeating the California claim, as did Selma City School community and family engagement specialist Cynthia Milledge.

“I looked back, I looked someplace else on Bing, and it said Selma California,” Milledge said.

Milledge also offered to send 1819 News “the information we have found out through our research.” However, no information came.

When asked what the source for the claim of the Alabama-California confusion was, no one who talked to 1819 News could answer.

Later Thursday afternoon, Reynolds contacted 1819 News, saying he received confirmation that the grant was issued for Selma High School in Alabama and that the superintendent was unaware that an application had been filed.

Later, in an email chain sent to ALSDE board members, state lawmakers and political figures Reynolds used to disparage 1819 News’ reporting initially, he sent the following email:

“I just talked with Dr. Chestnut and she said ‘unfortunately it is Selma, Alabama’. She said her information was verified by the Selma City Superintendent.”

On Friday, Chestnut told 1819 News she was still gathering information, and she was unaware who originated the claim that the grant was intended for Selma, Calif.

Selma City Schools Superintendent Dr. Zickeyous M. Byrd also released a statement on Friday, claiming the grant application was improperly filed.

“Yesterday, our school district was made aware of an unauthorized grant, It Gets Better Project, that was awarded to Selma High School,” Byrd said. “Unfortunately, the grant was written by an employee and approved by a former principal who failed to follow the appropriate policies and procedures to ensure district approval of their grant application prior to submitting it to the grantor. Selma City Schools has not and will not accept the unauthorized grant due to a failure to obtain authorization from the school district.”

“Selma City Schools respects the rights of all of its employees and students and will continue to consider grants that are properly vetted according to our board policies and district procedures. “

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