An Open Letter to Dr. Ann Roy Moore and the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education

To the Honorable Dr. Ann Roy Moore, Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools
And to the Huntsville City School Board of Education Members:

District 1: Laurie McCaulley, Vice-President
District 2: David Blair
District 3: Dr. Jennie Robinson
District 4: Topper Birney, President
District 5: Alta Morrison

Dr. Moore and the Board:

I am one of those “confrontational” parents who are making your life difficult.

It seems only natural and frankly desirable that a parent adopt a confrontational attitude when his children are being attacked. For that, respectfully, I will never apologize. And neither should the brave parents who stood up to speak truth to power last night. I am proud of each and every one of them, and frankly you should be, too. They are standing up for all children and grandchildren, including yours.

Since, as the Honorable Mrs. Alta Morrison has decreed that it would be physically impossible for you, the Board, or seemingly anyone in the Huntsville City central office to actually return a phone call, and since the Board is moving to alter the by-laws to reduce the time allotted for citizen comments from four minutes down to three, I have decided to put my comments concerning your plan to segregate my child from other children on the basis of his autism in writing.

I have only two requests:

First, parents are currently being told in their IEP meetings that their children will be moved to either the Academy for Academics and Arts (if they live north of Governors Drive) or to Challenger or Hampton Cove (if they live south of Governors Drive). This is in keeping with what Mrs. Sledge told parents on Wednesday night.

This isn’t a “rumor” as you stated two weeks ago.

This isn’t a plan that is “still being developed” as you responded to Mr. Blair’s question last night. (By the way, thank you, Mr. Blair.)

This is a plan that is being implemented right now without parental input and without the Board’s knowledge and consent. Two weeks ago, we were assured that nothing would be implemented without the discussion and approval of the Board. That statement was incorrect.

Since this plan is currently being implemented, please, share this plan with the Board and with the parents in writing so that we may attempt to understand it. If you want parents to be supportive of you and the Board, the first step is not to reprimand us for being “confrontational,” as you did last night, but rather to try communicating with us. Put this plan in writing so that we may attempt to understand you. I think you’ll find that parents of special needs children are actually quite gifted in understanding others.

We cannot and the Board should not wait until May.

Second, I am fully aware that the Huntsville City School system budget is facing a budget crisis. I am willing to do my part in alleviating that crisis. There has never been a single vote concerning raising taxes for schools that I have not supported and campaigned for.

Furthermore, I’m willing to volunteer my time, as are numerous other parents, to aid you in finding ways to trim our budget. Perhaps one place where we could trim our budget would be to cease the hiring of outside consultants to provide cover for you and the Board, such as Dr. Richardson. Parents, not outsiders, should be at the table with you. If you would be willing to share with us the same public information that you have shared with Dr. Richardson–namely our budget–we will be happy to work with you in addressing the budget issues we (not Dr. Richardson) are facing.

I love Huntsville. I love our public schools and our dedicated teachers. The parents who spoke to you and the board last night do too. Use us. Involve us in this process of making our schools better. We cared enough to attend a three hour meeting on a Thursday night. We did not get paid to attend that meeting. We took off from work to attend. We arranged for child care for our special needs children. (If you want a difficult task, try finding a baby-sitter for an autistic five-year-old sometime. Budget discussions are simple by comparison.) We missed a night we could have spent playing with our kids. We are committed to making our schools better for all children. Use us. We’re free.

Finally, I want to wish you well in your job search. I know how difficult the process of having to relocate one’s family to new schools and new lives can be. Hopefully the school system you’re moving to makes the transitions more transparent for you than you are doing so for us.


Russell Winn
2501 Glen Echo Circle, SE.
Huntsville, AL. 35803

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.