On January 19, 2012, the Huntsville City Schools entered a contract with the Pinnacle Schools; the check register shows the first payment to Pinnacle of $360,000 was made in early February 2012.
The Pinnacle Schools, a privately owned company, is providing services that were once offered by the Seldon Center, which closed in May, and extraordinary services through its Elk River Treatment Program, the 24/7 year-round remote wilderness outpost where students can be sent for as long as it takes.
The Huntsville Times reported the contract’s approval on January 19, 2012, adding that:
“The effect on Seldon Center will be, at the end of this school year, the Seldon staff will work in other schools and the Seldon Center will no longer be part of the district in terms of instruction,” Wardynski said.
Other programs currently run out of Seldon, such as the homebound program, will be moved to other schools, the superintendent said.
On February 4, 2012, Superintendent Wardynski said:
“Last board meeting we signed on with Pinnacle Schools. We’ve had the opportunity to visit our students at Pinnacle Schools over the last week. It’s a different place. The children over there are working diligently. They’re not visiting with each other. Uh, they’re focused on instruction whether they’re special education students or whether they’re general education students. Those who do not comport themselves according to the regulations and rules of Pinnacle Schools will find themselves living in a teepee.”
The Seldon Center served several populations. The only one most people associated with it were the students who were sent there because they were unable to behave themselves.
But Seldon also served “homebound” students — a poor word choice, since these students came to Seldon for two hours a day, four days a week. Now referred to as “Modified Education Student Services,” [M.E.S.S.] these students included those with chronic illnesses and those recovering from long-term illness, surgery, or injury from accident — or crime.
This population will also be served by Pinnacle (contract: A. Service Provided, A7. Homebound Students), but they will only come to the campus for “mandated” Alabama Department of Education exams. Otherwise, instruction will be delivered online and via telephone.
So be it.
Here are my questions:
1. Why did the Pinnacle contract begin January 19 or thereabouts if Seldon continued to operate through May?
2. Who was at Pinnacle this spring and who was at Seldon?
I know at least some of the M.E.S.S. students were sort of served at Seldon this spring. I know that one was added as late as February 29, 2012.
MESS is a good acronym for what played out for these kids this spring at Seldon.
Inexplicably, for two weeks in April 2012, the teachers who worked with the homebound kids were assigned to other duties. The first day there was a substitute; after that, the students were sent home on arrival or the homebound coordinator called and told them not to come in.
How can the HCS justify paying a private company to provide services simultaneously being provided by one of its own schools AND still not providing an instructor for two weeks to a group of students who are supposed to be served by either or both these entities?