“You’ll Have to Wait”

HCSBoard Seal

Last night, the Huntsville City School Board and Dr. Wardynski told me, by ignoring me, that I need to be patient. By not including the special needs segregation plan on the agenda, they told me, again, that I would have to wait.

On March 17th, I was told by this board and Dr. Moore that the “rumor” that Special Needs kids were going to be moved from their home schools to either AAA or Challenger was just a rumor. They told me that I would have to wait to have it confirmed, but not to worry because David Blair assured us that “no decision could be made without the issue coming before the board.”

“You’ll have to wait.”

Beginning the week of March 21st, parents of Special Needs children were being told in IEP meetings that if they wanted services for their child, that their child would have to be moved from their current school (which was occasionally their home school) to either AAA or Challenger.

When Amy Sledge and Dr. Janice Pruitt met with Special Needs parents on April 6, 2011, they promised us that they would return to their offices the next day, put the plan to segregate kids in writing and send it to parents.

She didn’t come to the meeting with the plan in hand.

Instead she told us, “You’ll have to wait.”

When I contacted Ms. Sledge two weeks later in a phone conversation on April 21, 2011, she informed me that the “plan” was sitting on Dr. Moore’s desk, and that it would need her approval before it could be sent out. She was certain that it would be sent out in the next week or so.

“You’ll have to wait.”

On May 5th, just hours after the power was restored to most of the city, Ms. Sledge and Dr. Moore made a presentation to the board about the special needs segregation plan that they were already implementing. This was an oral presentation that offered no reasons for the plan to segregate children.

When I contacted Dr. Jennie Robinson to ask for a copy of the plan in writing, I was told on May 7th:

I wish that there was a report to share. I was disappointed that it was only a verbal report without any accompanying documentation. It really didn’t tell us much. We are continuing to ask for a solid plan and Dr. Moore said it would be forth coming at the next meeting.

“You’ll have to wait.”

When I asked Dr. Robinson on May 16th to confirm that Dr. Moore would present a plan on the meeting on the 17th, I was told that the board meeting had been postponed until May 24th. Dr. Robinson went on to say, “I asked Dr. Moore to prepare a report for that meeting and she told me Amy presented the report and that it is the final report.”

In other words, there would be no more discussion of the plan by Dr. Moore or Ms. Sledge and Dr. Pruitt.

This time, instead of being told I would have to wait, I was told, “we’re not talking about this anymore.”

I contacted Dr. Robinson to discuss this, and while she was sympathetic and concerned about the end of the school year approaching, she said that she didn’t wish to disrupt the Superintendent interviews that were fast approaching by creating a controversy between the board and Dr. Moore. In other words, she was more concerned about hiring a new superintendent than protecting the education of our children.

In short, she asked me to wait until a new superintendent was hired before making a issue of the segregation of our children.

“You’ll have to wait.”

On July 6th, I contacted Dr. Robinson to again ask when the board was planning to address the special needs consolidation. Dr. Robinson responded:

Dr. W is looking at the consolidation plan (or lack thereof) today. He should have a report for the board by the next board meeting. I’ve told him it is extremely urgent and he agrees.

The next board meeting was, at that time, scheduled for July 21, 2011. (No one knew about the special Saturday Board meeting on the 16th at that time.) I believed that this time, given how quickly Dr. Wardynski responded to the transportation issues on July 7th, that I might get some answers.

“You’ll have to wait, but maybe not much longer.”

When the agenda was published for the July 21st meeting, there was no mention of any reports connected to Special Needs.

I again contacted Dr. Robinson, who does an excellent job of responding to emails–even when her response is “You’ll have to wait” to ask about this.

When I contacted Dr. Robinson yesterday about the lack of an agenda item concerning special needs, I was told that I should wait to discuss this with Dr. Wardynski on Monday as a part of his listening tour.

“You’ll have to wait.”

There will be, after the meeting on Monday, exactly 9 working days before the beginning of the school year.

We still don’t have a “plan” for the segregation of our children. We still don’t have the Special Education teachers, aides, occupational therapists, speech therapists, or physical therapists, that our children need to receive an education. We’re still being asked to wait.

[And for those of you concerned about costs: Aides run about $10,000 a year. OTs, STs and PTs are typically part time. This system threw away $175,000 worth of food they let spoil in April because of a lack of a plan. This system is building a $40 million dollar high school that they anticipate will be running at one-third its capacity in 10 years.]

Everyday that my son’s education is delayed by “waiting until school starts to complete our hiring” as Ms. Williams reported to the board last night, everyday that my son’s education is delayed because the board doesn’t want to upset the superintendent, everyday that my son’s education is delayed because of the incompetence of the system’s leadership, the chances of his education helping him find his way out of the fog of autism and being able to live an independent life are diminished.

I will not wait any longer.

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


  1. Russ, you can’t be the only parent affected/bothered by this. Can you not all show up en masse and demand an answer, or at least a defined point in time for debate?

    1. We have and we will. There’s a meeting on Monday of a significant group with the Superintendent. I’m trying to make sure that the right issues get discussed and that we aren’t put off any longer.

    1. Yep. The most sued system in the state is looking to become the most sued in the nation. I didn’t think that was what Wardynski was talking about when he said he wanted the system nationally recognized in five years.

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