Ignoring the Public

Board of Ed

I have been asking the same question since September 24th: Why have you cut Special Education by seven million dollars? My question is being ignored.

Let’s recap: I started by asking Dr. Robinson about it privately via email. On September 29th, I was told by Dr. Robinson that Dr. Wardynski and Mr. Spinelli would be making a “formal presentation on special ed costs at the November work session.”

Neither Dr. Wardynski nor Mr. Spinelli contributed publicly to the special education presentation that happened on November 17th. They allowed Mr. King, whom to my knowledge has no experience in special education, but seems to be the one making many of the special education decisions, to make the presentation. It was a rehash of the presentation they offered on August 4th.

Despite the assurances I received Dr. Robinson that I should “have my answers in November,” I was the only person at the board meeting to bring up the cuts that represent 61% of the total cuts made in the system from FY2011 to FY2012.

I suppose that Dr. Robinson’s response to me after the board meeting on September 29th, that she knew that IEPs were being met since we weren’t being sued is all the actual justification she requires and all I should expect.

As I wasn’t satisfied, I continued to asking the same questions again during the public comments on December 1st. That evening I was told by Mrs. McCaulley and Dr. Robinson that I should file a grievance, “that way you’ll be sure to get a response within seven working days.”

So, as I have documented, I went home that night, found and verified that I had the correct form with Dr. Robinson, and submitted a formal grievance over the superintendent’s recommendation, and the board’s decision to cut special education funding. I asked for three things:

  • A formal and public review of the special education numbers,
  • A written justification for why these cuts were applied inordinately to Special Education,
  • Action from the board to alter the budget and correct this discrepancy.

Again, as I have documented, even though this request was properly formatted, Mrs. McCaulley told me that the board “does not have a policy for when the citizen concern is really against the board.”

I followed up on December 2nd via email with Dr. Wardynski to request a response from him even though he was not formally required to respond by their interpretation of board policy. This request was again sent to Dr. Wardynski and the entire board. It read:

Dr. Wardynski,

I have received a phone call from Mrs. McCaulley informing me that the board does not actually have a grievance policy at the present time for grievances against the board or the superintendent.
While I am grateful for her call, I respectfully ask you to honor the spirit of the request that I have filed with you. In other words, I would like to receive a response from you concerning the cuts to the special education budget.
At a minimum, I would appreciate receiving a written response from you formally stating that the board does not have a grievance policy when the grievance is with the board or superintendent as mine was. I would also appreciate the board’s diligence in developing a policy that will allow the public to receive a response to issues that they have with the superintendent’s recommendations and the board’s decisions.
Thank you for you attention to this matter.

The seven day response time came and went on Monday, December 12th. I’m sure it will not come as a surprise that I have not received any response from Dr. Wardynski nor any of the board members.

Our superintendent and the board members who are elected to “administer and supervise” the educational process of the system are actively and deliberately ignoring the public that they serve. They are refusing to answer questions asked in private. They are refusing to answer questions asked in public. They are refusing to answer questions filed according to their own grievance policies.

They are actively and deliberately turning their backs on eleven percent of the student population they were hired to serve.

I will attempt, again, to obtain a response from either Dr. Wardynski or the board at tonight’s board meeting. You would think that they would be completely aware of this by now, but just in case they aren’t let me plainly state that ignoring issues does not make them go away. Turning your back on the public for whom you work will not make them go away.

I ask that you join me in making the board respond to the public by showing up at the board meeting tonight at 5:30pm in the Merts building on 200 White Street. If you cannot attend the meeting, you may watch it on ETV (Comcast 17, Knology 99), and at the Huntsville City Schools website. I will also be live-tweeting the meeting @russwinn. You can follow on Twitter or on the Geek Palaver Facebook Page.

Please stand with me on this issue. As I have stated, special education funding isn’t just about meeting the needs of others. It’s also about taking care of your own child’s education. And it’s the right thing to do.


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


  1. I share your frustration. It’s absolutely unacceptable, and I hope that people remember this in a few years. It’s a shame that board members forget who their responsibility lies with. Personally, I don’t want my board representative to just be like a sheep and go along with everything that the Superintendent recommends.

  2. Wish I could be at the meetings but I work in Madison until 6. I’ll be keeping an eye on your feed, though. Have you considered contacting the ACLU? I know that when I had an issue with Dr. Moore of unlawful search & seizures at my son’s school, it was a catalyst for immediate attention from her. The ACLU took so long to respond and start action that I already had the situation resolved. However, the ACLU has the resources & knowledge to pursue the board should a lawsuit be in order. Just a thought….

  3. Make them hear you…….Their silence tonight was deafening! !!!
    My heart goes out to you.

    Please! – run for schoolboard – becomea newspaper columnnist – contact the ACLU. – contact the DOJ ( nothing scares them more than that!)

    Please ….do all of the above!

    The HCS Special Education children, and staff, need you, and thank-you.

    1. I agree with Helen!

      Russell, how did the board react to your question? Did they have the courage to look at you or did they look down at their desks? What about W?

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