Why Teepees, Again. Reader’s Comment. And How Come the Supe Can Send Bad Kids to the Teepees and I Can’t?

“Those who do not comport themselves according to the regulations and rules of Pinnacle Schools will find themselves living in a teepee. And they won’t be coming back until they can behave. And if they can’t behave, they won’t be coming back to our schools.”

— Superintendent Wardynski in comments after the February 2, 2012 Board meeting.

Why Teepees?

Why teepees? Well imagine that first sentence with one of the other options:

  • Those who do not comport themselves according to the regulations and rules of Pinnacle Schools will find themselves living in a dome tent.
  • Those who do not comport themselves according to the regulations and rules of Pinnacle Schools will find themselves living in a yurt.
  • Those who do not comport themselves according to the regulations and rules of Pinnacle Schools will find themselves living in an army surplus tent.
  • Those who do not comport themselves according to the regulations and rules of Pinnacle Schools will find themselves living in a circus tent.

These don’t quite hit the right buttons, do they? I wonder why.

When the temperatures in North Alabama top 100 degrees, I wonder about what the temps are like in the teepees. Teepees weren’t used by Southeast nations; they were the means by which nomadic Plains Indians sheltered while following the buffalo through what would become the central Canadian provinces and northern tier states of the US.

I don’t know what the temps are in Elk River’s teepees, and neither do you. Nor will we. Huntsville taxpayers are paying for City school students to live in them, but aren’t privy even to where they are.

Mixed Motivations

A reader commented on my previous post:

“I hope you never are in need of the services offered through Elk River. I hope you never have to search for a place to help you with your child.”

This got me to thinking. Contrast the tone of that comment and Wardynski’s. My impression is that the parent believes that Elk River provides help to kids who are troubled, that it is an act of love and concern to send a child there when all else has failed.

Wardynski’s tone suggests he sees a trip to Elk River as punishment.

Can it be both? Hospitals are not, or shouldn’t be, the same in approach and philosophy as detentions centers, and detention centers aren’t the same as hospitals or boarding schools, are they? When parents borrow money to send their children to Elk River, are they doing it to punish the kids? Does anyone really believe that punishment for incorrigible behavior isn’t what Wardynski likes about the idea of kids “find[ing] themselves living in a teepee”?

 How Come the Supe Can Send Bad Kids to the Teepees and I Can’t?

“. . . HCS may refer students who are being removed from the program to Pinnacle School’s Elk River Treatment Program for intensive therapeutic treatment, upon such terms as may be agreed to by TPS and HCS and at the sole discretion of the Superintendent.” [emphasis added] — Pinnacle and Huntsville City Schools Contract

Why is Casey Wardynski qualified to send kids to a therapeutic wilderness treatment program at his “sole discretion”?

Does he have professional training and experience in

  • psychiatry, psychology, or counseling? No.
  • criminal justice, rehabilitation, probation and parole? No.
  • teaching adolescents? No.

I, unlike the superintendent, have at least taught several hundred older adolescents over the years (college freshmen), but I wouldn’t pretend to be qualified to make a medical diagnosis for an inpatient therapeutic treatment center or to serve as prosecutor and judge rolled into one.

Police officers, intake and probation officers at the juvenile detention center, the district attorney, a judge — this past year, none of these Huntsville professionals could manage to make a 15-year-old boy who beat a 15-year-old girl senseless even stand in the corner for 10 seconds — and yet Huntsville citizens are just fine with giving their school superintendent the leeway to send kids off to a secure facility in an undisclosed location for as long as he likes if they don’t behave in a classroom?

Something is very, very messed up in Huntsville, AL. Things can’t be this out of whack and there be no repercussions. Just can’t be — or can it?

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13 thoughts on “Why Teepees, Again. Reader’s Comment. And How Come the Supe Can Send Bad Kids to the Teepees and I Can’t?

  1. My son was there. It was terrible! They lied to me as a parent. It was a prison camp. I had no idea what actually took place there.

  2. Pingback: He Spies, etc. Pt. 5. Why is Deterrence Not an Option? | Merts Center Monitor

  3. “Huntsvillians in particular seem programmed to accept whatever a military, or retired military man, says without questioning.”

    That’s because he’s doing the job he’s being paid to do, privatize the public school system.

  4. Have a look at the proposed new policy manual (link front page HCS site). Over and over you see the option of the Supe doing as he pleases with no input from others. After the Board rubberstamps it, and the policies start affecting their kids, then the parents will be made aware of it, and the Board and Supe will say too bad so sad — the proposed manual was there for review all summer — too late now. Well, that’s naive of me, isn’t it: as if at any point any community objections would have a chance to be heard, let alone be taken seriously. . .

    • “Well, that’s naive of me, isn’t it: as if at any point any community objections would have a chance to be heard, let alone be taken seriously. . .”

      Let’s flip the script..If this were Ann Roy Moore do you think she would be able do as she pleased and the board rubber stamp it? Do you think parents wouldn’t object? Do you think the community wouldn’t be made aware of the policy changes until it was too late? Hell NO.

      • Hell no is right — for many reasons. One is that it takes a special kind of mentality to want to be a dictator. Another is that Huntsvillians in particular seem programmed to accept whatever a military, or retired military man, says without questioning.

  5. “Something is very, very messed up in Huntsville, AL. Things can’t be this out of whack and there be no repercussions. Just can’t be — or can it?”

    I am so glad I don’t have children in the Huntsville City School System, and I pity the parents who do, because yes, things can be this out of whack and there be no repercussions, because the parents don’t know what the hell is going on until it’s too late to do anything about it.

    I weep for the children.

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