Update 9/14 evening: “When my sons were arrested I let them know and that was before the board vote took place,” said Karen Lee in an interview with WAFF. I didn’t think anything could surprise me. I was wrong. It seems that it was the Huntsville City Schools Superintendent and Board that
- Thought this unimportant, and/or
- Banked on the public not finding out or not caring.
Update: If you go here, you can search current and released inmates at the Madison County Jail. While the municpal news wire reported that bond for the four suspects was set at $1 million each, the bond listed for the Lee brothers is $25,000 each. Stephanie Porter’s was $1 million, but has been revoked because of her second drug trafficking arrest while out on bond. The fourth suspect as reported by the news wire, Corey McDonald, does not show up as a current or released inmate.
Speculation: Considering the paucity of media attention, I doubt that Superintendent Wardynski or the Board learned that the two sons of Pinnacle Schools CEO Karen Lee had been arrested for drug trafficking the morning after she presented the proposal for contracting with the Huntsville City Schools to provide alternative education formerly administered by the HCS via the Seldon Center. (If you’re just joining us, read the previous two posts.)
Question: Is it plausible that Pinnacle CEO Karen Lee did not know before the contract was signed with HCS that her sons had been charged with drug trafficking?
Answer: Doubtful. The boys likely did not each have $25,000 readily available or the resources to keep the story out of The Huntsville Times.
Reasonable Conclusions: Before the contract was signed, Karen Lee had two choices:
- Tell the Supe or any of the Board about the arrests.
- Don’t tell the Supe or the Board.
Option 1. Considering the value she places on “character,” one would think that she would tell the Supe or the Board. It may not have a direct impact on the work Pinnacle does, but sooner or later, the truth will out, and it would prove (is proving?) mighty embarrassing to the HCS.
Let’s suppose she did tell the Supe or at least three Board members. That would mean they entered into this contract knowing that Lee’s claims for programs like hers, based on her own kids’ experiences, were dubious at best.
Likely? I doubt it. That, if you trust Lee, is exactly what they did.
Option 2: Lee is a businesswoman with a lot of financial resources and clout in the community. Not telling would mean a good chance of getting a lucrative contract. I think this is the more likely scenario.
She was running a risk, but having kept the story out of the Times, she and the Board and the Supe probably thought
she they could get away with it.
She made two miscalculations:
- Anything that ever was online will surface, sooner or later.
- She didn’t factor in how many of her staff would return to civilization, disgusted and disillusioned.
Now what? I haven’t a clue. But while we are thinking about what the Board really knew about Pinnacle when they signed the contract, I have another speculation and question.
Speculation: Did the Supe arrive in Huntsville thinking, what I need are some teepees where I can a handful of bad kids since that would surely establish order in the HCS? Could be, but I think it more likely that someone who stood to profit by an HCS – Pinnacle agreement brought Pinnacle to him. I haven’t found the connection to the Supe or to any of the Board — yet — but see number 1, above.
Questions: Since January 1, 2012, when the HCS started paying $750 a day ($192,750 as of today, the 257th day of 2012). to reserve five teepees at Elk River:
- Has the Supe or any of the Board paid a surprise visit to the camp? Oh, wait. How do you pay a surprise visit to a place without an address in a remote location? And if the visit is scheduled, you might as well stay home.
- Have any of them talked to one of those released from the teepees with provisions in place to preserve anonymity or at least lessen the risk of reprisal for telling their stories?
I doubt it.