The Pinnacle Schools: What Are We Waiting For?

Last year, the Huntsville City Schools outsourced its alternative schooling to The Pinnacle Schools at a cost of $1,596,000, entering a 19-month contract.

You want to find out more?

Don’t bother looking in the Student-Parent Handbook. No mention of the Pinnacle Schools.

Don’t bother looking in the HCS Policy Manual. No mention of the Pinnacle Schools.

Don’t bother searching the HCS website.

(There is one mention of the Pinnacle Schools on the website. Here it is, in its entirety: “A student that is attending the Seldon Center or Pinnacle is only eligible to represent the Seldon Center or Pinnacle. A student attending the Seldon Center or Pinnacle cannot participate at any other school.”)

I have been writing about this since last December. See categories: Pinnacle.

My biggest fear has been the potential for abuse at the Elk River Treatment wilderness camp where Col. Casey Wardynski, superintendent, sends kids that Pinnacle can’t handle. There they are held incommunicado for an indefinite stay — as long as it suits Wardynski [one censored letter home a week. No calls. No visits. No legal representation].

Frankly, even I didn’t expect this at the Huntsville City Pinnacle Schools campus: 20121010194922

Read about it here and here.

If what we see above is what is being done to kids who go home at night, just imagine what is going on at W’s private prison.

I’ll say it again:

If what we see above is what is being done to kids who go home at night, just imagine what is going on at W’s private prison.

I looked to see who licensed the Pinnacle Schools, but on its website no mention of a licensing agency is provided. I wonder if the Board knows. (Elk River is licensed as a detention facility by the State of Alabama, for what’s that’s worth.)

I wonder if anyone down at Merts, like the play-dead Board maybe, knows what standards are used to employ personnel for this cash cow. The CEO’s (Ms. Karen Lee’s) only qualification for running the place is that she has two sons who have run afoul of the law. She has no credentials in education or mental health services. Well, hell, we have an unqualified superintendent, so what? We do know that she saw fit to employ one of her sons who is awaiting trial for drug trafficking as a counselor at the Elk River detention camp, but when this was publicized, she moved him to Pinnacle instead.

What are the qualifications of the thug who beat this kid?

How many other kids have been beaten at Pinnacle Schools Huntsville campus and have been afraid to speak out because doing so could well mean that they risk being disappeared to the teepees until the Colonel decides they have been neutralized.

Even without the smacking in the ribs, planking or face-down restraint — and yes, I realize no mechanical restraints were employed to keep the kid in this position, unless you count risk of a beating about the ribs as a mechanical restraint (I would) — has been outlawed in more progressive states and has been at the core of a number of suits related to deaths in treatment facilities.

You can read about it here, here, here, here, and here.

Guess that’s what the citizens of Huntsville are waiting on for their wake-up call: a death.

Then there can be tears and hand-wringing, candlelight vigils, messages from pulpits, all the usual useless brouhaha to assuage a community’s guilt at just not giving a damn.

I never wanted to be in the I Told You So position because it would come only when someone’s child had suffered.

Haven’t you had enough? If not, what would be enough?




19 thoughts on “The Pinnacle Schools: What Are We Waiting For?

  1. I still cannot believe that they allow places like this to operate in America. As I stated on a previous post, I was at the Elk River facility for nine months, four of those months spent sleeping in a teepee during the winter. We were only allowed to sleep in a tee shirt and underwear, with nothing but a sleeping bag and a thin sheet for cover, and about 75 percent of our sleeping bags zipper had broken off. One boy got frost bite while i was there because it was so cold. When he complained about the cold, the night staff would laugh at him and call him a baby(and anyone else who said it was cold) all the while they sat in warm jackets in front of a bonfire using the wood we had chopped to keep warm. We were told that it would “build character, and I had a staff member say that it was practice for when we became homeless after our parents kicked us out cause we were ‘bad kids.’ In the morning they would throw our army bag into our teepee that had our shoes and clothes and stuff in it, and at five every morning staff would call out ‘WAKE UP FIVE MINUTES’ and we would have five minutes to find our bags, put on our clothes, put our sleeping bag in there, tie up our shoes, and be outside in line. If we were late they would make us sleep outside under a tarp the next night, My second night there i didn’t have my shoes tied up in time, so I had to sleep outside the next night under a tarp that offered NO protection from the elements. well, it decided to pour down rain that night, and i was literally soaked to the bone. there was a puddle in the bottom of my sleeping bag.. One of the other girls complained about how she couldn’t sleep because it was so wet, and the night staff took her tarp away and told her she should’ve tied it better. I was terrified to say anything because I was afraid that i would get in more trouble. This place was not therapeutic at all and I really appreciate that I am not the only one who feels this way

  2. My son was with him as well that day there where 5 kids that were locked in a room together and they were punched, kicked, slammed for at least an hour.

  3. Thank you redeye and Shannon. Blair lives within walking distance of the Lee estate. It’s about time the Board started reading what people give them. How often do they need to be shown up as incompetent idiots in a single week, anyway? Shannon, I’m not sure that the DYS licensing is fdor anything but the Elk River program. It is residential; the Pinnacle Schools Huntsville program is not. Do you have any more info on this?

    • To be fair, Karen Lee is a bit more qualified than that. She does hold a degree in nursing and as a nurse anesthetist. But, the CEO position is a figurehead position.

      The Pinnacle schools has a list of more qualified individuals running the programs. Wayne Wilson- licensed psychologist; Albert Sprinkle- MD specialized in Adolescent Psychiatry; etc.

      That isn’t saying much, still, but the CEO of any RTF usually doesn’t hold any actual clinical experience, they handle the administrative aspects more than the clinical aspects.

      • You are right, of course, except that I don’t see being a nurse anesthetist as a relevant qualification. While Elk River is primarily a behavioral modification program, my understanding is that Pinnacle is supposed to be delivering educational services to the kids who were once students at Seldon. Sprinkle used to — and may still be — the consulting psychiatrist for Decatur General Behavioral Unit, when not occupied with his private practice. How often he is actually there — who knows?

        • I agree, it isn’t much of a qualification. Sprinkle is still consulting with DG-West and is one of my least favorite C&A Psychiatrists in the area.

          Your understanding of the Pinnacle’s Day Program is the same I have. In which case, the punishments offered should be the same as would be offered in a public school.

  4. Pingback: Updated: Privatizing Alleged Child Abuse At The Pinnacle Schools - Geek Palaver

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