Updated: Wardynski’s Principals Forced To Resign

Board of Ed

This posting has been updated with additional information below.

I don’t really know Chad Laqua, but I have met him on a couple of occasions at the central office. On both occasions I found him to be open, approachable, and genuinely excited about education. In particular, during a time when much of the central office leadership was giving off the impression of simply not giving a damn about special education, he spoke to me of his passionate belief that every child deserved an education and that every child could learn if given the resources and opportunities.

Needless to say, I liked him.

He was a first year principal placed at a school that was, in a polite assessment, was not doing well. Due to questionable decisions in districting by the board that they seemed unwilling to actually question, a great school was in decline.

Wardynski seemed to like him too.

At the Saturday Board meeting where he was hired, Wardynski singled him out as one of the best of the eight new hires. He regularly described him in the press as “a great new principal.”

And as reported yesterday, Mr. Laqua, along with the new principal at Davis Hills, Kurus Jamison, have offered their resignations to Dr. Wardynski.

As The Huntsville Times reported, Mr. Laqua said, “I had a discussion with the superintendent and he thought that it would be best.”

When Mr. Laqua was hired, Dr. Robinson sung the praises of Dr. Wardynski’s new “process” for hiring principals saying, “I’m impressed with the process you used, and I hope that you continue to use this process.”

If this were such a great process, why wasn’t it used again? Why did all subsequent principal hires get moved inside the superintendent’s office?

As I said, I don’t know Mr. Laqua very well, but my experience with him was positive. It seems now that Dr. Wardynski has changed his mind about him for some unknown reason.

And that’s the problem. While I agree that personnel issues should be dealt with by using a bit more discretion than he typically uses (particularly since he usually uses these issues for his own political advantage), the process by which principals have been evaluated has not been open to the public.

How is it possible that a process that the board was praising for selecting principals just a short eight months ago have resulted in 25% of the new hires that Dr. Wardynski recommended and that the board unanimously and excitedly approved are now being asked/forced to resign?

At the very least, this should raise questions about Wardynski’s ability to hire people. It should raise questions about the way that the board votes to approve new hires recommended by Wardynski.

Update: Need more evidence that Wardynski doesn’t know what he’s doing? Take a look at the Time’s article on the hiring of Ray Landers. As is common whenever he’s caught doing something stupid, “Wardynski did not respond to a request for comment.”

Spinelli defends this strong leadership by saying that this convoluted method of paying both a principal and a consultant saves “$4,000 per year” (which assumes we would actually have paid him $209,090 for two years of service).

Laurie McCaulley, the board president–who did at least respond to questions–said, “we assumed he was retired.”

Indeed. Our school board has done far too much assuming of late and far too little verification.

As such, it should raise questions about some of the new principals that Wardynski has been hiring from Fairfax, VA without giving them specific assignments. (Why do Wardynski’s “national” searches always result in hiring multiple people from the same districts like Aurora, Colorado and Fairfax, Virginia?)

For example, who is Dan Meier, and what vetting process was used to hire a person who was “linked” to a “North Carolina land scam?” It seems that Mr. Meier was eventually cleared, but this does raise questions about the board’s refusal to question the superintendent’s recommendations. They should at least learn to use google in the process of supporting the superintendent’s recommendations. It might save them some embarrassment of having to force resignations on people they hire after a mere eight months of service.

But that would require them to actually do their jobs of representing the public, which is something that they seem fundamentally opposed to doing.

They would rather, as they did on Thursday night, praise Dr. Wardynski for his visionary leadership and his commitment to “communicating with the public.”

(Yes, I am the one laughing in the background when that was said. Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.)

If the board were actually doing their jobs, maybe we could manage to create some sense of continuity in this district among those teachers and administrators who actually give a damn about students and education.

As it is, they will simply continue to support whatever bad idea Wardynski will bring to them. They will continue to play fruit basket turnover with our children’s schools and lives.

Disruption for the sake of disruption is not helpful.

I wish Mr. Laqua well in his future endeavors, and I thank him for his service to our schools and our country. He had eight months to effect change. Eight whole months.


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


  1. I’ve taught at Butler High School for 22 years. When I started, it was a wonderful school with a truly integrated student population. Following the redistricting that accompanied the opening of Columbia High School (an action that a group of us from BHS pleaded with the board to reconsider) Butler has been on a decline. 85% of our students now qualify for free or reduced lunch which indicates the socioeconomic level which predominates the district from which we draw our students.

    I truly like Chad Laqua. He is enthusiastic and supportive of his teachers. He came to Butler with a lot of new ideas, some which have worked, some which didn’t. We did see him bring in support that had previously not existed from parts of the community. I’m not sure that he received the support he needed from central office. No, he didn’t turn everything around at Butler in one year. I don’t think anyone could. Rebuilding Butler will take a long term vision and commitment from the board, the community and the staff. I care about our kids and want them to succeed, and I feel confident that rest of the staff feels the same. I truly believe that given consistent direction, leadership and support we can help our students succeed.

  2. while i agree with you, i dont think his resignation was so much part of his hiring process, as it was the fact that he cared about his students and was trying to bring changes for the better in the school. if i had to guess i would say he probably also fought and stood up for them. therein lies his problem and why he was asked to resign. i know a few teachers who are leaving due to him at the end of the year. ashley stated she thinks he will be surprised by the exodus. i told her that he would not be as it is part of his plan so there will be more spots for TFA to fill. sad he is padding BROAD pockets at the expense of the kids.

  3. Has anyone else wondered WHY WE DONT SEE THE LOCAL TEACHERS / ADMINISTRATORS who are Certified & qualified in Administration being promoted or put into these positions..WHY IS THE SCHOOL SYSTEM SPENDING MONEY ON HEAD HUNTERS when all the heads are at or in our front and back door…I have been mystified by this every since the first “alleged” contract came out regarding a company being used to search for teachers and administrators…WHAT THE BLOODY HELL !

  4. The Providence PTA hosted a meeting with Dr. Wardynski Tuesday evening to discuss the future of schools in District 5.

    Has anyone heard anything about the results of the meeting?

  5. Now the board has cancelled the contract for Meir they need to rehire Butler Principal Chad Laqua. HE has brought change and hope that has been gone from there for some time. /he is very intelligent and he has a great vision for Butler. If given the time and resources he could turn that school around. It is Huntsville City Schools loss. The super is talking about not being able to hire great educators due to RSA as he sends a legally hired great educator to another system. What can we do to change this mess our system is in?

  6. ….”The board canceled the two-year, $96,878 per year contract of Dan Meier, principal of Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Va., during a special meeting. Meier has said that he decided to stay in Fairfax to be close to his four children.
    jennie robinsonJennie Robinson (The Huntsville Times)

    Huntsville district officials told The Times, however, that a mutual decision was made after information surfaced about Meier’s involvement in an alleged land scheme in North Carolina. The allegations, which board member David Blair said were not found through the district’s background search, apparently came to light after parents expressed concern.

    Board member Jennie Robinson gave credit, however, to the process Superintendent Casey Wardynski has set in place.

    “We found that there was a problem and it was taken care of,” Robinson said after the meeting. “Dr. Wardynski is doing things in new ways and developing new processes. I have complete confidence that he’s learning lessons as he’s going forward.”…

    Ok i just read the above today…this was just an excerpt
    #1. How does a new principal make 96k in a new school system thats recovering from an “alleged” financial break down?

    #2. Sooooo the fact that the PARENTS brought the issue of Meier’s past to the forefront had nothing to do with the BOE un-doing a mis-doing right? It was allllll because of “THE PROCESS” (let jennie robinson tell it)

    #3. (another “let jennie robinson tell it” ) SOOOO the BOARD found there was a problem with “THE PROCESS” and the BOE handled it right? isnt this like throwin pie in someones face and makin em eat it too?

  7. I’m fairly confident Dr. Wardynski has a goat picture on each member of the board. Or worse, the Broad Foundation does. How else do you explain the fact that Robinson praises him when his process so utterly failed. And I don’t buy that either. I’m convinced Wardynski knew all about Meier but thought the rest of Huntsville was too stupid to find out.

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