Eric Lee Can’t Help It If He’s Lucky. But What About Those Who Aren’t?

This follows up on yesterday’s post, Be Careful What You Post on Social Media: Remember the Lee Brothers? and you should read that first.

I ended that post with a few questions. In December 2011, 4 people were arrested for trafficking. Two have court case numbers. Two don’t. The two that don’t aren’t the sons of the owners of the Pinnacle School, which has as one of its campuses the Elk River Treatment Program (ERTP). The CEO is owner Karen Lee. Her son Eric was employed at ERTP as a counselor and is now a supervisor and is one of the 4 arrested who doesn’t have a court case number.

This puzzles me: What does it mean not to have a case number? Not guilty? Dismissed? Or trial pending?

My speculation is that it means either not guilty or charges were dismissed. Why? Because the other son with no case number, Charles Lee, Jr., was arrested 1/30/2013 on an unspecified felony charge and released 1/25/2014. My thinking is that if he were still awaiting a court date for the 2011 bust and was convicted of a felony, then he would not have been released. This could well be erroneous thinking since it doesn’t factor in money and influence.

So if the 2011 charges against the brothers Lee were dismissed, I guess there would be no reason for the guy not to be a supervisor at a remote whatever ERTP is. His mother seemed sure all along he wouldn’t be convicted. But why?

As I said in the title, Eric Lee can’t help it if he’s lucky. Here he is, in the presence of 24 lbs of pot, $37,600 in cash, and a small arsenal when the Madison-Morgan County Strategic Counterdrug Team comes busting through the door of a $138,000 home in Madison. And yet he is free.

He can’t help it if someone (Mom?) can come up with $25,000 bond for him and another $25,000 for his brother so they were in jail only 4 days.  You, I and the man on the moon all know if he had been poor — guilty or not — he’d be in jail awaiting trial. Contrast his predicament with that of the 19-year-old who died naked on the floor of his Madison County jail cell from an infected foot that was never treated. He was arrested in June 2013 for shoplifting Star Wars DVDs and in July for passing a fake $100. By August he was dead. Couldn’t come up with bail, I guess. Freedom isn’t free.

So where are we? Either Eric Lee is awaiting trial or his 2011 problems just dissolved. If he is awaiting trial, then his mom, Pinnacle CEO Karen Lee, has some explaining to do about his job.

If not? Well, then there was no mistake about posting the picture of supervisor Eric on the ERTP Facebook page, maybe as a message that all is clear for Eric, or maybe as a middle fingered salute.

I don’t care if any of the Lees smoke pot or not. I’m unequivocally in favor of the legalization of the plant. For one thing, its illegality continues to destroy the lives of some who are arrested and not for others, and this is unfair. But even if marijuana were legalized and possession for personal use not a crime, trafficking would be. Legal marijuana would be taxed. And one of the best reasons for legalization would be to avoid the culture of trafficking, which includes being willing to harm others, which is why the rifles and weapons were confiscated.

I’d say that Eric could be a nice guy for all I know, except that even if he just stumbled into the house with the 24 lbs of weed, $37K in cash, and shotguns and rifles, what kind of man would be at ease earning his [artisan] bread and [creamery] butter for depriving teens of their liberty and subjecting them to who knows what kinds of torment because they were stupid enough to get caught with a joint in a Huntsville City School and unlucky enough not to have money for a high-profiled attorney and were not to the manor born? One with the integrity of puddle scum, I guess. Or a question of upbringing.

Even if Eric just stopped by the house at the wrong time, his judgment at hanging out with traffickers should disqualify him from a position of responsibility for other peoples’ kids. What does this have to with Huntsville City Schools? Some of those whom Eric Lee are supervising have been sent to ERTP by HCS, and some I expect are there because of social media monitoring. If private pay parents wish to spend tens of thousands of dollars on ERTP without questioning the qualifications of its staff, that’s their decision. But if the public is footing the bill, it should have the assurance that ERTP’s staff, every single one, is qualified and has good judgment. 

As I said back on Sept. 14, 2012, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Lees were not convicted. I would be a little surprised if the charges were simply dismissed, but just a little. Why?

Enter Robert Broussard, DA Madison County.

If the charges against the Lees were dismissed, it comes down to the District Attorney for Madison County, Robert L. Broussard, a man for whom I have even less respect than I do for Col. Wardynski. And that is saying something. 

The  Madison-Morgan County Strategic Counterdrug Team is a division of his office, and this team is a specialized and extra-well trained and funded one. I would imagine that they look before they leap, and had an eye on the four people they arrested long before 12/9/2011. All four. A raid like this should have been executed when no stray people were on the premises. This was no broken tail-light, oh my, there’s 24 pounds of weed in the trunk bust. But “Lee” is a fairly common name, and so maybe they hadn’t done their homework well enough to discover they were about to mess with the sons of the power elite.

If the charges were dismissed, I for one would love to hear the story concocted to explain this.  I haven’t the brainpower to imagine how a specialized drug squad could make such a boo-boo. How, exactly, can you be in a house with 24 lbs of marijuana, etc. and walk away from the charges? What was special about the Lees’ presence that didn’t apply to the other 2 arrested, who do have court case numbers? 

What was different about the Lees in contrast to McDonald and Porter? Money. Not just the Lee’s own stash, being augmented by the public through their contract with the HCS, but the money that has gone into propping up Wardynski, who is a great enabler of Karen Lee.

So here’s the situation again. I expect no answer.

1. The charges against Eric Lee are still pending. This means that Karen Lee’s assurance to the public that Eric would not be counseling at ERTP needs some scrutiny.

2. The charges against the brothers Lee were dismissed or they were found not guilty. Did the Madison-Morgan County Strategic Counterdrug Team screw up? Or did Broussard choose not to prosecute? Why?

 

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Be Careful What You Post on Social Media: Remember the Lee Brothers?

splcTime for an update on several previous posts from September 2012, starting with The Pinnacle of Hypocrisy and carrying on through Thank you, Crystal Bonvillian. Innocent Until Proven Guilty. Nepotism. These posts came months after my first suggesting that sending HCS students to The Pinnacle Schools’ Elk River Treatment Program at the sole discretion of Wardynski was wrong for many reasons.   .

The Sept. 2012 posts were about the arrests of owners Karen and Charles Lee’s sons, Charles Lee, Jr. and Eric Lee for trafficking on December 10, 2011.  Reports noted agents seized “24 pounds of marijuana and about $37,600 in cash during the bust” and “weapons, including shotguns and rifles.” 

Two others were busted along with the Lees: Corey McDonald and Stephanie Porter.

Now, parents aren’t responsible for the behavior of their adult children. Hypocrisy, like Karen Lee claiming she can turn your kids’ lives around, isn’t a crime.

Apparently neither is employing someone awaiting trial on charges like these as a counselor supervisor in the remote Elk River Treatment Program, aka Wardynski’s teepees of yesteryear, boot camps this season. Lee says she told the Board about the arrests before her contract with HCS was approved. When the Lees’ arrest came to the public’s attention, and it became known that Eric Lee was up at Elk River,

“Superintendent Casey Wardynski expressed support for Pinnacle and Lee, who he said contacted him Thursday afternoon and told him she was altering her son’s duties with the program pending resolution of his case.

“She is removing him from the Elk River program and he will be working other duties,” Wardynski said. . . . Lee told The Times on Thursday that her son would remain an employee, just as any employee would if they were charged with a crime but had not been convicted. That will change if he is found guilty of the drug charges. “Of course, if he was convicted he would be terminated,” Lee said.”

So what does this have to do with social media? Well, I was doing a little bit of my own monitoring of Facebook, and paid a visit here:

Elk River Treatment Program. Look in pictures and who do you find? This guy. There are two instances of that same picture, one on July 30, birthday greetings, and then one on July 31, 2014 with the caption: “Mr. Lee is a supervisor at ERTP.” Well, Karen Lee did promise Wardynski  “she was altering her son’s duties.” She made him a supervisor.
lee3Now, it’s true he hasn’t been convicted of anything. He and his brother do not even have case numbers yet, although in a little over 2 months, 3 years will have passed since their arrest. Scroll down to the end of he post first to see what I am talking about.
But interestingly, the other 2 arrested, Corey McDonald and Stephanie Porter, have case numbers but no sentencing.
It took me a while to figure this out. If you have a case number, it shows up. If you don’t, you just have 000-0000 as a placeholder.
If you go to http://jail.madisoncountyal.gov/smartwebclient/, what comes up first are the new bookings, and they have 000-0000 for case numbers too, just like Eric Lee. Now Charles still has no case number for the 2011 arrest, but he seems to have gotten himself in trouble again in 2013 and spent 13 months inside.
McDonald has a case number for the Dec. 2011 arrest .Porter has a possession charge with no case number from the Dec. 2011 arrest, but does have a case number for the trafficking charge.
So what are we to make of this? Four arrested; two have case numbers and two don’t. Why? What does it mean not to have a case number? Not guilty? Dismissed? Or trial pending? I simply don’t know.
And by the way, the Pinnacle guard charged with torture, Julian Boykin? He too has no case number.

Enlarge Photo
LEE, ERIC EDWARD   (W / MALE / DOB: 7/30/1988 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO11JBN014271 MniNo: MCSO11MNI002388
Booking Date: 12/09/2011 15:05:42 Released: 12/13/2011 1:50:00 PM
Age On Booking Date: 23
Bond Amount: $25000.00
CELL Assigned:
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[-] 13A-12-231 000-0000 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $25000.00
TRAFFICKING (MARIJUANA, COCAINE, METHAMPHETAMINE, DRUGS)

 
lee

LEE, CHARLES IVY   (W / MALE / DOB: 7/20/1987 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO11JBN014270 MniNo: MCSO00MNI058191
Booking Date: 12/09/2011 15:00:19 Released: 12/13/2011 6:40:00 PM
Age On Booking Date: 24
Bond Amount: $25000.00
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[-] 13A-12-231 000-0000 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $25000.00
TRAFFICKING (MARIJUANA, COCAINE, METHAMPHETAMINE, DRUGS

lee2

LEE, CHARLES IVY   (W / MALE / DOB: 7/20/1987 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO13JBN001160 MniNo: MCSO00MNI058191
Booking Date: 01/30/2013 09:51:51 Released: 1/25/2014 12:01:00 AM
Age On Booking Date: 26
Bond Amount: $0.00
CELL Assigned:
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[-] 15-10-60 CC12-3134 (MADISON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE) COURT SENTENCED (FELONY) F $0.00
COURT SENTENCED

 

MCDONALD, COREY ANDREW   (W / MALE / DOB: 10/9/1984 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO11JBN014269 MniNo: MCSO11MNI014234
Booking Date: 12/09/2011 14:45:10 Released: 12/14/2011 6:45:00 PM
Age On Booking Date: 27
Bond Amount: $25000.00
CELL Assigned:
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[+] 13A-12-231 DC11 7712 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $25000.00

 

Enlarge Photo
PORTER, STEPHANIE IRENE   (W / FEMALE / DOB: 8/26/1986 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO11JBN014265 MniNo: MCSO11MNI000693
Booking Date: 12/09/2011 14:10:48 Released: 12/14/2011 5:20:00 PM
Age On Booking Date: 25
Bond Amount: $2500.00
CELL Assigned:
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[+] 13A-12-231 DC11 7709 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $25000.00
[+] 13A-12-212 000-0000 (STAC) POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE F $2500.00


Enlarge Photo

PORTER, STEPHANIE IRENE   (W / FEMALE / DOB: 8/26/1986 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO12JBN008364 MniNo: MCSO11MNI000693
Booking Date: 07/19/2012 13:33:11 Released: 3/13/2013 6:32:00 AM
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[+] 13A-12-231 DC12-4952 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $0.00
[+] 15-10-60 DC11-7708 (MADISON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE) BOND REVOCATION F F $0.00
[+] 15-10-60 CC12 3133 (MADISON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE) COURT SENTENCED (FELONY) F $0.00

 

He Spies, etc. Pt. 5. Why is Deterrence Not an Option?

I wish that I had access to a sampling of HCS middle and senior high school students to ask two questions: What happens to students who are expelled? Does it matter how old they are?

For most of my life I have believed that being expelled was the same as dropping out, but with more drama. At least the outcome was the same: prospect of not getting a decent job unless the school-leaver got a GED. Family fireworks. Nothing worse, though.

I’m thinking now I was wrong. Consider this statement from the article alerting us to the HCS surveillance program, or whatever you want to call this latest outrage:

“The students were expelled and placed in alternative school and boot camp programs.”

If expelled means kicked out of school, how can a superintendent place an expelled student in an alternative school or boot camp?

What is the procedure? Pages A14 to A19 of the 2014-2015 HCS Student/Parent Handbook outline the procedure for expulsion, but there is no mention of alternative schools or boot camps. So how do students land in boot camps?

And more importantly, why are students not told that being expelled doesn’t mean they are through with school?

Why are they not told in graphic detail what they can expect their lives to be like if they land in Wardynski’s “boot camp” which I assume is the Pinnacle School’s Elk River Wilderness camp (the “teepees”) but can’t say for sure, since nowhere on the HCS website or in the handbook is there a single mention of an alternative school or boot camp.

This is what Wardynski said way back when he and the Board shut the Seldon Center and got in bed with Pinnacle:

“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.”

The contract included this:

“. . . 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

The prospect of being sent to the sticks far from friends and family with no phone, no internet, no privacy, and no freedom, for an indeterminate stretch could be a good deterrent to those contemplating an expulsion worthy offense. But not wanting to go through such a program would serve as a deterrent only if would-be offenders had a clue what awaited them on the other side of expulsion.

Why don’t they know? Why does the HCS keep this secret to surprise kids with after they have done wrong? 

I find it sinister and sociopathic to operate thusly.

Wardynski has his fantasies of calls from the NSA alerting him to Yemenis plotting to cut off teachers’ heads.

I’ll offer a fantasy of my own.

Imagine you have had enough of high school but you are only 15. You long for your 16th birthday when you will be able to drop out. You turn 16, go to get your license, and discover that the school leaving age has been bumped up to 17 (did you know this, Reader? Meanwhile, the UK has extended voting privileges to 16-year-olds). Despair follows. You cannot take another year of standardizing testing — why bother with all that when you could be preparing and taking the GED, a test that if you perform well will mean something to you, and not the suits? But you also have heard of truant officers and you don’t want to land at the juvenile detention center. So what are your options?

Maybe, you think, if you can’t leave voluntarily, you can get them to throw you out. So you devise a full-proof scheme. You buy a stiletto at the flea market, print out a picture of your principal, pin it to your wall by jabbing the stiletto through the eye, and take out your phone. You post it with the caption, after today I will never have to look Mr. Principal in the eye ever again, on your FB wall and a bunch of your friends’, toss the stiletto in the glove compartment, and off you go, happily thinking this is the last time you will be making this trip.

You are cheerful when confronted by all the assistant principals, etc. and show no remorse because all is going according to plan.

You are expelled the next day,

And then you are informed you will be spending as long as it takes to break you or until your 17th birthday in a teepee. Now it’s W who is flying high.

And there is nothing at all you can do.

No one ever told you that expelled doesn’t mean you are free of the school system’s authority. You didn’t factor in that if you aren’t 17 you have to be educated somewhere, and Mom and Dad don’t have the resources to send you to a private school, even if one would take you, and they have been threatened with arrest and jail if they don’t sign you over, and are too shocked to figure out a workable plan — if there is such a thing.

You would never have done the stupid little charade to get kicked out if you had known that kicked out really meant losing all your freedom.

Nobody is going to believe you that all you wanted was to be free and get on with your life.

You are screwed, in other words, facing weeks, months, years (do they have to release you at 17?) in a private prison with no legal representation, wondering why no one warned you.

Too bad.

 

 

He Spies With His Beady Black Eyes: Wardynski Has His Tail in a Crack. Pt 1

And I am hoping it is so tightly wedged that he won’t slither out of this one.

If you are here, I expect you already know about the latest crock of lies, evasions, deceits, illegalities, and violations of civil rights on the part of Wardynski and his henchmen: the May 2012 NSA tip-off (which the NSA denies) about a so-called immediate threat of danger (aka juvenile last day of school humor) with a foreign connection: one of the 100s of people following then junior Auseel Yousefi’s Twitter feed was a Yemeni (and thus, it seems, presumed to be a Muslim Jihadist terrorist) and how this tip-off led to the never-spent-a-day-on-the-battlefield retired colonel forming a surveillance project that the Board of Education maybe did or maybe didn’t know about (damn! who was responsible for delivering the scripts last week?) two months before the Yemeni non-event occurred.

There! I packed a whole lot of it into one sentence. But I am sure there is much, much more to come.

First, praise for al.com’s Challen Stephens who is doing investigative journalism! I could dance with glee. Starting with the September 24, 2014 story, “Huntsville schools say call from NSA led to monitoring students online,” and following up with an interview with Auseel Yousefi, who outed himself in the comments responding to Stephens’ first article, the subject has grown and other reporters are on board.

There are tons of issues. There’s the matter of funding, well addressed by geekpalaver:
“Off The Books Spying Program $1 Million,” “All Kids Are Our Kids” and “Wardynski Violates Board Policy.”

Oh dear, post interrupted by consideration of the beady eyed one’s proclamation, Monitoring social media part of Huntsville schools’ responsibility to keep students safe: guest opinion.

My responses follow: So Colonel, now bullying is a problem? I remember a time when it wasn’t. In October 2012 you told WAAY 31’s Shea Allen: “Bullying has been going on for a long time. There was bullying when I was a kid. But I can tell you when we look at the statistics, while its [sic] about 80 percent of what you guys talk about its [sic] only about one percent of what we see.”

Remember way back then? Same season when one girl at Butler was beat up by three other girls in a bathroom and you referred to the event as”horseplay” and suggested the victim was at fault since she was “in a bathroom 20 minutes after class“ had begun and then gave her mother all kinds of hassle before granting the child a “temporary transfer”?

Funny what you can find on the internet.

and

Oh yes, then there’s the outsourcing of alternative schooling to Pinnacle Schools. It’s so outsourced that the only mention of it on the HCS website is one sentence about athletics (“A student [sic] 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.” [Students are people; “that” should be “who.”]) although millions of taxpayer dollars have been funneled to Pinnacle. 

Where was the concern for student safety when Julian Lorenzo Boykin, one of the guards at Pinnacle’s Huntsville campus, was charged with “torture and willful abuse of a child”?

Or when Karen Lee, owner of Pinnacle, hired her son Eric as a counselor (!) at the remote private prison (which these days you are calling a “boot camp”) AFTER young Eric was charged with felony drug trafficking AND firearms charges (confiscated weapons included “shotguns and rifles.”). Was it revealed that Eric was “outfitted to hunt ducks or deer” and so couldn’t possibly be a threat? I missed that update.

Your response: renew the contract!

If you don’t know what I am on about just hit the tag word Pinnacle.

And I’ll be back with much more.

It Gets Worse. The Pinnacle Schools’ Teaching Techniques — and Torture.

From the website of the private corporation that is being paid 1.5 million of tax monies this year alone to educate at-risk students:

“The academic programs of The Pinnacle Schools are designed to support students therapeutically by providing a safe learning environment in which their self-esteem is positively impacted by success in school.”

From al.com, Nov. 2, 2012:

“Police on Wednesday arrested a security guard for Pinnacle Schools, the Huntsville school district’s alternative school, in connection with the alleged beating of at least one Huntsville student at the school last month.

“Julian Lorenzo Boykin, 31, of Huntsville is charged with torture and willful abuse of a child, according to Harry Hobbs, a Huntsville Police Department spokesman. . . .

“Will he receive more charges?” Hobbs said. “My best answer would be (that) he might be charged with some more misdemeanor level charges if the evidence supports the allegations.”

Julian Boykin Pictured: Julian Lorenzo Boykin (Madison County jail)

Pinnacle Schools stands behind him. Innocent until proven guilty — fine. But you know what? Huntsville police spent 21 days investigating before pressing charges. I was starting to give up hope that this would not just disappear into the ether. I’m glad to see that this hasn’t happened.

In her report, Crystal Bonvillian quotes another boy whose allegations aren’t the subject of the current arrest but of the others possible as investigations occur:

“Boykin is accused of pulling several students out of class on Oct. 10 for talking.The boys were allegedly locked in a room with Boykin, who students know as “Mr. B,” and another security guard and forced to assume the plank exercise position.

“‘Mr. B teamed us all up and made us do planks on the ground, if one student fell the other team mate got punched in there (sic) sides and we were being hit so hard it was knocking the air out of us,’ one 13-year-old boy wrote in an account provided to The Times by his mother, Nacole Seldon.”

Note the offense for which the kids were punished: talking. Note how they were (allegedly) punished: by being forced to do exercises. Note the sadism: the boys were put into teams, and if the one doing the exercise fell, the other kid got punched.

These are 13-year-olds. What’s the most one of them likely weighs? Average weight for a 13-year-old boy is 102 pounds.

Take a look at Boykin. Weighs a bit more than 102 pounds —  likely more than 204.

What kind of lesson is being taught when you (allegedly) team kids up, force them to do exercises in the planking position (already outlawed as dangerous in a number of states), and then, when the one exercising falls — falls, mind you — you punch the other team mate black and blue.

I know Superintendent Wardynski doesn’t know squat about pedagogy — that is, teaching techniques — but would this be tolerated at any military boot camp?

Of course not. It teaches nothing but helplessness. It teaches that those who are bigger and stronger can behave as sadistically as they please to those at their mercy.

<span style="color: #000000;"

Now, what I want to know is, if this is going on among the day kids at Pinnacle, what in hell is happening out at Elk River? Well, Supe? Board? You are responsible for this despicable situation. You should be ashamed.

Cancel the contract with Pinnacle. I’d say if these charges stick, it should lose its license, but I can’t find anything to suggest the day school is licensed. I’d say it should lose its accreditation — but it isn’t accredited. Great choice, W and Board

Let’s return before closing to the Pinnacle Schools website, where we discover that:

“The staff at The Pinnacle Schools has been carefully screened and selected for their leadership skills, maturity and compassion.”

Compassion? Compassion? Compassion?

The Lees are hopeless. So let’s invite comments from some of these other compassionate professionals.

Wayne Wilson, Ed.D, Licensed Psychologist.  Dr. Wilson: please explain to me how the “beat the team member when his partner falls down” approach to discipline for talking in class contributes to a safe learning environment and academic success.

Albert L. Sprinkle, MD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.  Dr. Sprinkle: Is the “beat the team member when his partner falls down” approach to discipline one you encourage at Decatur General West? Did Boykin train with your night staff over there? Listened to any concerns of your patients (yes, patients: or so they are regarded when it is time to file for insurance) regarding their after-hours’ experiences? How about your private patients? Do you suggest the the “beat the team member when his partner falls down” technique to their parents? Great way to build healthy sibling relationships.

Kimberly Cox, RN, BSN, Director.  Nurse Cox: I notice you are proud of your training “to facilitate others in interpreting the Bible for themselves.” Is the “beat the team member when his partner falls down” approach to discipline based on biblical principles?

You didn’t know what was going on? Sorry. That won’t cut it. Why didn’t you know?

Wardynski, McCaulley, Blair, Robinson, Birney: Enough is enough. Resign or start taking responsibility for your actions.

Good luck, new Board member Mike Culbreath. You’ll need it. I wouldn’t want to be associated with this crew. Don’t drop to their level of incompetence and indifference. Please — please — be a voice for integrity, decency, responsibility, and, yes, compassion.

 

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.

Pinnacle [and HCS] Employees and the Law

So far the parents of two students at the Pinnacle Schools have filed police reports stating that their child was beaten at the school. There is good reason to believe more are forthcoming.

If I were an employee of Pinnacle Schools, I’d be very nervous. Of course they have a moral and ethical responsibility to report when a child is beaten, but times are hard and jobs scarce, etc., and there is retaliation to fear.

The thing is, if you are an employee of the Pinnacle Schools and you suspect a student has been abused, you can stop debating with yourself about what to do. You have no choice. You must inform the police. If it is discovered later that you were aware that a child was being abused and did nothing, then  you may find yourself in trouble:

Section 26-14-13 – Penalty for failure to make required report.

Any person who shall knowingly fail to make the report required by this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a sentence of not more than six months’ imprisonment or a fine of not more than $500.00.

You should have been told about this when you were hired, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if you weren’t. As a school employee, you are a mandatory reporter in the State of Alabama:

Code of Alabama – Title 26: Infants and Incompetents – Section 26-14-3 – Mandatory reporting

(a) All hospitals, clinics, sanitariums, doctors, physicians, surgeons, medical examiners, coroners, dentists, osteopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, nurses, school teachers and officials, peace officers, law enforcement officials, pharmacists, social workers, day care workers or employees, mental health professionals, members of the clergy as defined in Rule 505 of the Alabama Rules of Evidence, or any other person called upon to render aid or medical assistance to any child, when the child is known or suspected to be a victim of child abuse or neglect, shall be required to report, or cause a report to be made of the same, orally, either by telephone or direct communication immediately, followed by a written report, to a duly constituted authority.

If I were an employee of Pinnacle Schools, I would assume that this law applies to me, not just Karen Lee, but me.

Who is a “duly constituted authority”? Based on this, I think it would be the Huntsville Police Department:

Section 26-14-6.1 – Duties and responsibilities for investigation of reports.

The duty and responsibility for the investigation of reports of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be as follows:

(1) Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect involving disciplinary or corporal punishment committed in a public or private school or kindergarten shall be investigated by law enforcement agencies.

(2) Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect committed in a state-operated child residential facility shall be investigated by law enforcement agencies.

(3) All other reports of suspected child abuse and neglect shall be investigated by the Department of Human Resources.

Now then, for reasons best known to herself, in regard to the first report of abuse, Karen Lee apparently reported to DHR rather than to the Huntsville Police Department:

“This incident arose when one of our staff discovered marks on a student.  Per our policy, we informed the parents, contacted DHR, and put a staff member on leave.  The Pinnacle Schools is presently investigating this matter.”

Perhaps as a Pinnacle employee you don’t want to get involved because you fear retaliation by Lee or a civil suit if the guard isn’t arrested. I would hope that there are whistle-blower laws to help you with the first, for what they are worth, but liability for making a report that is dismissed is not something you need to worry about:

Section 26-14-9 – Immunity from liability for actions under chapter.

Any person, firm, corporation, or official, including members of a multidisciplinary child protection team, quality assurance team, child death review team, or other authorized case review team or panel, by whatever designation, participating in the making of a good faith report in an investigation or case review authorized under this chapter or other law or department practice or in the removal of a child pursuant to this chapter, or participating in a judicial proceeding resulting therefrom, shall, in so doing, be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.

These laws were enacted to counter the it’s not my problem, I don’t want to get involved, people won’t like me if I speak up mentality. A child’s welfare matters more than an adult’s desire not to rock the boat. It’s as simple as that.

Of course, you can still stay silent and risk paying the $500 or sitting in jail for six months and then having a misdemeanor on your record when next you seek employment (how much longer do you think Pinnacle will be open?).

Your choice.