Bad Behavior Brings Big Reward?

Busy day at Merts Center tomorrow. In the afternoon, there is a rally asking for Wardynski’s resignation, and in the evening, the announcement that the Board has decided to offer him an evergreen, auto-renewing contract.

I’m not even going to pretend we don’t know what the Board will do: this stinks of a done deal, way done and over done, rotten and putrid, and the soliciting of citizen input through email a huge waste of the writers’ time.

Trash it! Delete it! The Board is way too busy to read mail! For heaven’s sake, isn’t it bad enough every 2 weeks to have to sit around listening to constituents’ whining? You don’t really think we are going to be distracted by all these boring emails, do you?. Write Santa Claus instead, folks! Delete, trash, delete.

And I never thought that the BOE would demand Wardynski’s resignation tomorrow, either.But surely when you know that a petition asking the Board to request his resignation has been steadily attracting signatures over the last few months, switching to an auto-renew contract for no good reason is simply a way to send a loud message to anyone who dares hope for answers from the Colonel that they aren’t coming. And tomorrow night, when they go ahead and declare it done, knowing fully well that hours before there was a second rally in two weeks to express distrust in the man, it will send another message: we have the power and you don’t.

Oh, but what about the title of the post? What bad behavior do you claim is being rewarded?

Got a few hours? Read my old posts? Read and Or for the bad behavior of Wardynski in the past few months alone, read the petition.

And then skip over to the contract the Board is voting on tomorrow night (yea, I know — just a little theatre there), and carry on to page 7, point 11. And for simplicity, we can jump to reason 5 to terminate the supe’s contract.


Now, when a US District Judge says 

“The Court strongly suspects that the district has chosen not to share many of the reasons for the choices that it made as it shaped its student assignment plan” (p.101)

“The district’s shifting story regarding M-to-M data is not an isolated incident. Over the past few months, when asked for information, the district frequently has offered incomplete answers. The construction of Jemison is a case in point. At the hearing on the Board’s motion, when the United States pointed out to the superintendent that African-American students at Butler who would be assigned to Jemison under the Board’s plan would move to a more segregated environment, the superintendent responded, “I have to do that because the Court has ordered me to do that.” (Doc. 352, p. 170). The superintendent’s answer is not
accurate. The Court has not ordered the Board to do anything with respect to Butler.” [emphasis added] (pp 96-97)

Notice first the phrases “not an isolated incident”  and “a case in point.” These suggest strongly to me that what we have here are but two examples of dishonesty, if by honest you mean to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” I think that’s what the judge expected, don’t you? I think when Wardynski chose “not to share” or gave “incomplete answers” he was not telling the whole truth. And a “shifting story” sounds to me much like one that has lots of not quite true bits to it. And when I read “not accurate” I think untrue and lies and dishonesty.

The Board apparently does not share my views. Then again, if you read the judge’s findings, they engaged in the same deceit. Ever heard of “enablers”? That’s the Huntsville Board of Education.

Oh, and then there is still the mystery of the NSA call that tipped the supe’s spies to the foreign connection and ultra tacky dagger, all that nonsense. It’s been about a month — more? — and still we do not know who is lying. Perhaps Wardynski’s cabal didn’t mean National Security Agency but No Such Agency. Easy mistake to make.

So: looks to me like we have had some behavior that should lead to terminating the supe’s contract. Instead, it’s now set to auto-renew. It’s a little like those advertising come-ons of get one month’s service free! but we still need your credit card info because if you don’t cancel the contract at exactly 11:11 on February 29 it will renew ’til the next February 29 and then the next and the next.

Ad nauseum.

P.S. This is also in the contract, still: “Evaluation Form, Format and Process. By October 15 of each year of this Contract, the Superintendent shall submit to the Board recommended evaluation criteria for his evaluation.” (p. 6, 10-B)

The more people outside Merts tomorrow, the more arrogant the Board will look when it raises Wardynski up high in the evening. 



Update on Excluding Redstone Arsenal Families as Stakeholders in the City Schools

If you are unaware that the HCS Board of Education has proclaimed that only citizens of the City of Huntsville are stakeholders in its schools, read this short report first:

Huntsville City Schools Bans Commenting By Military Families

or watch this:

There has been some confusion about the status of military families on Redstone Arsenal. It is really very simple.

1, One bit of misinformation posted on is that RSA families vote in Huntsville City elections so they have not been excluded from commenting at BOE meetings.

RSA families live on a Federal military installation. They DO NOT VOTE in Huntsville City, City of Madison, or Madison County elections. When they call for emergency services, the MPs respond, not the HSV City police. And so on.

2. There is an address for Arsenal mail which includes the word “Huntsville.” This does not mean that Redstone Arsenal is in the City of Huntsville. This is odd, but not meaningful. Consider: Monrovia Elementary is a county school. Its address has the word “Huntsville.” Monrovia is not in the city limits of Huntsville.

Here are the city limits:

I have been astounded at how little commentary there has been on this latest debacle.

Huntsville, AL is a military town, remember?

Thousands of Huntsvillians have made billions off the military.

But when it comes to those who make the sacrifices — the ones people love to be the first to praise on Memorial Day as preserving our freedoms — the soldiers and their families, there is simply no interest in these parents being deprived of the freedom to comment to the Board of Education that dictates the policies of the schools their children attend. Shame on you.

Changing the definition of stakeholders in the City Schoools to Huntsville citizens means these 450 or so families no longer have a Board member, although technically I guess they never did, since they do not vote in City elections. 

And the Board rep of the schools their children attend? Culbreath (“The HCS: Good Enough for Your Kids — But Not for Mine”). Likelihood of a property developer giving an underdone damn for families with a median income of $32,000? Won’t bother to answer.

Why did  COLONEL Wardynski sat by quietly and let this happen?

People, we do not live in a military dictatorship yet. You can (surprise!) criticize a Colonel and still be a good American, a Patriot even, although whether you can do so without impunity given his FBI and CIA  and hotline to the NSA — well, you decide what you feel safe in saying,

He doesn’t scare me.


More Consultancy Fees for the Shredder. Separate and Unequal. A 3-Minute Tour.

Update, October 29:

Well, what a coincidence. I posted this on Friday, and today, Monday, there was some news on Butler’s “News” page and some more content on its homepage. Two of the events are for Tuesday, the 30th and one for the 31st. Not much notice then, but better than none.

Money for the Shredder.

With all the news about the beatings at the Pinnacle Schools and the propaganda regarding the digital initiative, you may have missed this article in the Huntsville Times by Challen Stephens: “Alabama leads nation in desegregation cases; Huntsville looks to shed 42-year-old order.” Stephens notes that Huntsville City Schools “remain under judicial order to erase signs of a dual system based on race,” but have “now decided that ending the order should be a top priority and has made that a performance goal for new Superintendent Casey Wardynski.”

Will the Board achieve this goal by obeying the law, doing the right thing, and eliminating the numerous disparities between predominantly white and predominantly black schools?

Not exactly. No, their strategy instead is — surprise — to hire a consultant: “Wardynski this summer brought in Maree Sneed, a Maryland educator turned Washington lawyer and desegregation specialist.” As of October 12, 2012, “Huntsville has paid Sneed for two days of work, $2,448 for July 31 and $2,076.75 for Sept. 14.”

Might as well have sent that $5524.75 through the shredder because Huntsville is nowhere near achieving even a separate and equal school system.

The 3-Minute Tour.

I can show you this in 3 minutes. Open a new tab and go to the HCS site. Now open 2 more tabs, one for Butler High, and one for Grissom. Some consultant (I’m willing to bet) got paid well over the summer to standardize the schools’ websites. Only they aren’t. Compare the Butler and Grissom home pages you just opened. Sure looks to me like a lot more is happening at one school than at the other.

Go a little deeper. Let’s try Guidance. Butler’s page is blank. Grissom’s says it is still under construction, but directs you to link tabs at top of that page, all of which lead to pages full of information and additional links.

Try Latest News. There are 6 subject links at Grissom. At Butler, there is no news [on 10/26; 3 items on 10/29].

How about School Publications? Grissom: 3 links. Butler: 0.

And so on.

How Can This Be Blamed on Students or Parents?

This is my favorite aspect of our short little tour. I simply can’t imagine how Wardynski, his enablers, or even the most rabid comment posters can blame this very public, very obvious display of inequality on the Butler student body or their parents. The students aren’t responsible for the website, and neither are the parents. I don’t know who is, but I can tell you that it doesn’t take a $2500 a day consultant to see that there’s a problem here.

If Consultant Sneed has any professional integrity, she’ll tell the Colonel to save his money because she can’t convince the Justice Department that Huntsville deserves unitary status.

She can’t because it doesn’t.

Dear Board:

Really guys, just how stupid do you think the US Department of Justice is?

“I don’t want us just to get unitary status, I want us to deserve it,” said McCaulley. I’ll clue you in, Ms. McC — you aren’t getting it any time soon.

McCaulley thinks that “the new digital initiative, awarding laptops to each student, helped standardize the curriculum between schools in different parts of Huntsville,” and that this will make a difference.

Malarky. The curriculum has always been standardized because the same textbooks have been adapted for all schools in the system. Geez, lady, think about it.

David Blair believes it is “way past time” to be getting out from under the deseg order: “It’s the right thing for the kids, right thing for the community and the right thing for the city.” Way past time — agreed. But the order isn’t going away just ’cause you are tired of having it hanging over your head, man.

Here’s a suggestion: instead of talking about digital initiatives, spend a few minutes online visiting the websites of the schools in the system. You might see what is obvious to the rest of us.

And while you are at it, type “Pinnacle” in the search box of the HCS main site.Why, oh why, is there nothing about the system’s alternative school on the system’s site?

One might conclude that the Supe, the Board, and the whole of Merts aren’t proud of their association with this train wreck.

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?



Colonel, We Need to Talk About BLOOD

Those of you following the latest example of systematic ineptitude in the Huntsville City Schools know that the superintendent Col. Casey Wardynski’s reaction to the beating of a 15-year-old girl in a Butler High bathroom is beginning to sound chillingly similar to the litany of domestic abusers: first, underplay the seriousness of the crime (for example, calling it horseplay. Colonel, when it is three against one, it isn’t horseplay) and next, blame the victim (for example, for being “in a bathroom 20 minutes after class begins“).

I hope I’m wrong but I can easily imagine that the next command from the Colonel will be that teachers cease and desist from granting bathroom passes or be prepared to answer to his beady-eyed wrath. Kids can go between classes or not at all will be the theme.

Colonel, there are reasons, good reasons, why a female of child-bearing age may need to go to the bathroom at an unscheduled time.

I haven’t any reason to believe this pertains to the girl in the Butler case. That doesn’t matter.

It pertains to all females who menstruate. Yes, folks, I’m going to describe to the Colonel in graphic detail why sometimes a female might need to go to the toilet 20 minutes after class begins. So if this might offend you, just click out. The Colonel needs to know what it means to bleed for 2 to 7 days every 21 to 35 days. I doubt that strategies for accommodating menstruating students was a topic discussed at Broad Academy, Rand, Harvard, or West Point.

While the average age for starting to have periods is still claimed as 12 in the US, girls who start as young as 8 are not unusual, and 10 to 11 seems to be increasingly common. I can bet you that some fourth or fifth grade teacher in the HCS is going to have to deal with a girl getting her first period right there in his or her classroom.

It happened to a girl in her class when my daughter was in fifth grade. The little girl was terrified. The male teacher got two older girls, one my daughter, who from her requests through the year to go to the nurse’s office suggested to him she knew what was happening, to take the girl to the nurse so she could call her mom and get cleaned up and calmed down. This, Colonel, is what it is like some days in the classroom.

When girls first get their periods, they are irregular, and in fact there isn’t a woman reading this who even after years of bleeding hasn’t been caught by surprise. When a girl tells the teacher she needs to go to the bathroom or to the nurse, telling her to hold it til the next break isn’t going to work if she has started to bleed. Blood flows. Menstruation isn’t like urination or defecation. There’s no way to control it.

But you object that by the time a girl is 14 or 15 or 16 she should be experienced enough to handle her “problem” without disrupting the school routine. If she has five minutes between classes on opposite sides of the building, does she really have the time she needs to wait her turn in the bathroom and then go through the hassle of changing a tampon or a pad? If she can’t do the impossible and is thus tardy to class, she has a strike against her. So maybe she thinks it is better to get to class on time and go to the bathroom once things settle down.

Or maybe she is caught off guard. Her period starts early, and it happens to be ten minutes into an hour-long class. Maybe she is wearing loose heavy dark jeans and absorbent cotton briefs and it comes on as a drip drip. But maybe it comes on as a full flow and she is wearing tight lightweight white pants. She needs to get to the bathroom and she needs to go now.

Or maybe she went to the bathroom and changed pad and/or tampon between classes but she is having a really heavy period. She passes a big black glob of blood that she knows has leaked past the tampon and has a good chance of overflowing the pad, if she is double protected, which wouldn’t necessarily be the case. I can remember a time when I went to the toilet, changed tampon and pad, went out to get the newspaper, passed a blob, and immediately returned to the bathroom. Colonel, this happens. And when it happens, a girl needs to go to the bathroom. Now.

No, it isn’t the HCS’s fault that for females of child-bearing age life is sometimes — well, regularly — a bloody mess. You can blame it on the parents, I guess, for giving life or the chance for a life, to females. Female students’ bloody messes are something that they bring with them into Wardynski’s world. Make it more difficult for them to go to the bathroom when they need to and I guarantee you you’ll see a rise in absences.

Colonel, this is life. This is what you have to deal with if you are going to involve yourself in the lives of real flesh and blood young women. You can’t stop their blood flowing. If you can’t handle the bloody messiness of real life, go back to your virtual solider games where the blood doesn’t stain and doesn’t stink.

It Gets Worse. If the Board Won’t Fire Wardynski, All Five Must Resign. Now.

Over at geekpalaver, you’ll find all the relevant information on Wardynski’s latest outrageous behavior. Briefly, on September 17 a 15-year-old girl was assaulted, her ribs bruised, in a bathroom at Butler High by at least three other girls who then stole her top and bra forcing her to seek help through the halls of a high school with her chest exposed. The facts are not in dispute. When something horrible like this happens, there should be a clear, unequivocal procedure to follow.

Here’s the clincher: only after her mother told the story to WAFF, only after Wardynski realized he was going to be shown up again as a failure, did he do the most minimal of things to help this child that is, grant the transfer out of Butler her mother had sought for ten days. And mind you, this is only a temporary transfer. And Wardynski then sabotaged the girl’s safety further by, for no reason whatsoever, revealing to all the world where she is going.

The man has the moral fiber of puddle scum.

There are three School Resource Officers at Butler. That is, there are three Huntsville Police Department officers at Butler.

The three girls who pounded on the one were not simply breaking school rules or misbehaving.

They committed a crime.

I want to know why the following did not happen:

1. The girl should have been seen immediately by the school nurse, HEMSI summoned, and then likely transported to the ER. If there is bruising, ribs could have been broken. She could have been concussed.

2. Simultaneously, her mother or an emergency contact should have been summoned.

3. Either at the school or in the ER, a police report should have been filed and the girl’s injuries photographed. At this point a case number is assigned by HPD.

4. The mother should have been instructed on how to go to the Neaves Center (detention home)  on Oakwood Avenue to sign a juvenile delinquency petition against her daughter’s attackers. Since the girl is a minor, a parent or guardian has to do this. This is the same as pressing charges.

5. The girl should have immediately been offered a permanent transfer to the school of her choice. Why the hell is there any question about getting a transfer out of Butler for any student these days? It has failed and failed and failed to come up to minimal state standards.

6. The 2012-2013 Parent Student Handbook says that “an intentional assault upon any individual which does not result in serious physical harm” is a Class II offense; one that causes “serious physical injury” is a Class III. Suspension is the first response to a Class II, and expulsion is “normally” the consequence of a Class III, “with a suspension to the hearing panel unless otherwise authorized by the Superintendent” [5A, 7A-8A]. While they hash out the fairly wide divide between not serious and serious physical harm, immediately the same thing should have happened: suspension.

7. Whatever the HCS decides to do or not do has nothing to do with the criminal case against the girls. This little “temporary” transfer is so bogus and disgusting and shows no understanding of real life. Months are going to pass before the girls’ criminal trial. And let’s say that in spite of the event being on film the DA’s office completely botches the case, are the child who was beaten and her three assailants going to live happily ever after? Get real.

I hope this girl’s family sues the HCS to hell and back.

If the Board doesn’t have the guts to admit they have made a very, very big mistake in hiring Wardynski — if they can’t face up to the fact of their failure — then each one needs to resign.

As for you, Wardynski, may I suggest a trip to Afghanistan so you can see some combat up close and personal for once in your glorious career? Isn’t it about time you visited some field hospitals and met some of those kids your game America’s Army enticed into the military? Or maybe you could make yourself useful by accompanying some of their corpses home?

Just get the hell out of the lives of our kids.

The Asses in the Ergonomic Chairs

A commenter on “The Best Board Money Can Buy” asked if I’ve ever even been to a Huntsville City Schools Board meeting.

The answer is yes, and that my mood sours each time I walk in the boardroom. There used to be the big soft chairs. Now we’re too 21st century for such, and of course, flush with money, so the big soft chairs have gone to the dump and have been replaced by high-techy looking, ergonomically correct, breathable mesh, tilt and height adjustable at the touch of a finger chairs.Then there are the hard, narrow chairs. These remain.

It’s the same down in Montgomery, when I used to go to PACT meetings. On the soft chairs: elected State Treasurer at the time Kay Ivey, whose neglect and incompetence were largely responsible for the near-bankruptcy of the Alabama Prepaid Affordable College Tuition plan, and the ten grim men who enabled her. On the hard chairs: those of us who elected her and entrusted these fools with honoring the contracts we had purchased.

I have a problem with these boardroom configurations. Big expensive chairs on a pedestal for the few. Hard little desks or folding chairs for the masses.

Dear Colonel and the Board, my hind end is no more (or less) well padded than your own. My hour, like yours, has sixty minutes.

These furnishings suggest that the ones in the fancy chairs are more deserving than those in the hard ones, that they are the ruling elites. Being on a pedestal, looking down on the huddled masses, encourages complacency and induces amnesia in elected public servants.

They forget that they once had to go to the public and ask for votes — and money — and for folks to stick ugly little signs in their yards so that they could represent the people in the governance of the public’s school system. Once in the soft chairs, Blair, Morrison, McCaulley, Robinson, and Birney came to identify with the Colonel, the center soft chair, and to leave well behind the people who put them there.

I wrote Alta Morrison last week regarding the Pinnacle debacle. Did I get anything in return? I did not. Am I the only one so ignored? Hardly. Go have a look at geekpalaver who is running a little poll based on questions from one of his readers. Two pertain to attempts to communicate with these elected representatives. The answers show a dismal  basic lack of respect on the parts of these five people to their constituents. I wonder how much money you’d have to contribute to their campaigns to get the courtesy of a response: $500? $5000?

At your typical Thursday night meeting, after the done deals and in-jokes among the privileged few, there follows a condescending preamble to citizen’s comments proclaimed from on high, and then the commoners who previously submitted their names, ranks, and serial numbers are allowed three minutes a piece.

They come down the aisle like Oliver Twist. Those of us of a certain age (the one where clerks tell your kid to be nice to her granny) may remember the musical Oliver! (1968), based on Oliver Twist, a novel by Charles Dickens, an author who wrote long books that somehow we found time to read in high school.

Anyway, orphan Oliver and his fellow workhouse urchins are eating their small bowl of thin gruel in the workhouse while the institution’s board members are gorging themselves on a huge feast up on the pedestal in the soft chairs. The orphans would like a few more slurps of gruel that day, so they decide whoever draws the short straw will ask for seconds. This falls to Oliver, and all music stops as he makes the long walk to the microphone front of the room, and trembling says,  “Please, sir, I want some more.” 

The elite go ballistic and Oliver is sold into service. This isn’t quite how things go at HCS board meetings. No, to recall another 1960s show, Get Smart, it’s more like a cone of silence descends over the pedestal. You can see the board members smirk, scowl, then drift off into reveries of prideful power, but for all intents and purposes, it is as if they are protected from having to hear your pleblian voice.

What I don’t get is what the Board has to lose — and, unfortunately, based on the re-election of McCaulley, you can be a rubberstamper and not lose. It’s not like Wardynski can fire them. Morrison is a lame duck and the last educator on the Board. Maybe she is just old, weary, disgusted, and despondent. But she has absolutely nothing to lose. Come on, Alta, rally! You know things are going to hell in a handbasket. Is this the legacy you want?

Finally, would someone who isn’t scared of W please let him know how embarrassing it is to send a kid to school in a district where not a single person in the central office is literate enough to change “Reward and Recognition” to “Awards and Recognitions” on the home page of the HCS website available to all the world to see? Or, on second thought, don’t. Let the world see for themselves what we the people in the hard chairs have come to know: the countdown to implosion  has begun.