Intimidating the Public

Watching from the hallway.

Well, tonight was interesting. It seems that the superintendent was concerned that there might be a video mob of some sort at the board meeting tonight. I wonder why he would be concerned about that?

There were no less that six district security personnel at the board meeting tonight. And even more disconcerting than that, there were at least five marked Huntsville Police Department cars and one unmarked police car present at the meeting tonight.

During the citizen comments, which I think were nearly cancelled tonight as they were left off the agenda, there were approximately 10 security personnel in the board room.

And that was after all the general public entered the building through a metal detector again.

The only time this level of security was present was during the removal of the Lee High name from the new high school. Then I think there may have been three district personnel and perhaps two or three armed police officers.

Oh, and there was no metal detector that night.

I have heard through the grapevine that security was concerned that there might be a video flash mob of sorts tonight

And of course that would have been just terrible. It’s absolutely terrible when the public pays attention to what elected and appointed officials say and do.

There was at least one person there tonight who did record at least part of the meeting in an open way. This person, and no it wasn’t me, was recording the meeting in the full view of district security and Huntsville Police, and yet she/he was not asked to leave or stop recording.

I chose not to attempt to record the meeting tonight as it was fully broadcast on ETV, and frankly, because I wasn’t interested in spending the night in jail.

However, every time I turned around, there was yet another security personnel walking up toward me.

This despite my standing in the hallway the entire night watching the meeting on the TV monitors in the hallway. (I gave up my chair a few times to various people, and so ended up in the hallway.) It was kinda crowded tonight.

I wonder why the board and superintendent would be so worried about people paying attention to them that they would feel the need to have HPD present for additional security?

I wonder why there were so many of them actually in the board room while I was speaking?

It seems that perhaps I was being singled out tonight despite Mrs. McCaulley’s claims on Sunday night via email that I wasn’t being singled out.

I wonder how she feels now?

I was allowed to speak tonight. I believe that the superintendent and the board were genuinely surprised when I didn’t make the entire three minutes about me. If you’re interested, here’s what I had to say:

In honor of the Rave Cinemas support of the autism community at the beginning of the month with their “Avenge Autism” walk, I considered wearing my Hulk Smash gloves tonight, but then I was concerned that Mr. Blair might be the only person here to get the joke.

Hulk smash hands

So I left them at home.

After all, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was intimidating, disruptive or threatening as I have been called.

For the record, it has never been my intention to intimidate or threaten any one, and I’ve gone to great lengths to avoid disrupting the board meetings in any way. I haven’t even allowed my comments to run over the three-minute limit.

I’m not here to threaten anyone. I’m not here to intimidate anyone, and I appreciate having heard from Mrs. Morrison, Mr. Birney, Mrs. McCaulley, and Mr. Blair that they as individuals have not felt threatened by me. It would be nice if the board could publicly state that, but I’ll take what I can get.

I do not, however, apologize for asking questions and expecting answers.

Education without the free ability to question isn’t education. It’s indoctrination. And I’m sure that we can all agree that is not our goal here.

In that light, here are a few questions:

How is it helpful to students to tell their teachers that they’re being moved to another school while the students wait in the hallway? Teaching while holding back tears doesn’t seem helpful to me.

Why are we still discussing Dr. Wardynski’s bonus while teachers’ step raises are still frozen and starting salaries are still set to the state minimum?

Why are we on a pace to spend 7 million dollars less than the published budget on Special Education, which is exactly the same projected surplus that Mr. Spinelli is predicting for the end of the year? In other words, why are you balancing the budget on the backs of special education students?

Questions aren’t intimidating to people who believe they are doing the right thing.

Thank You.

Not one board member spoke to me tonight, and the superintendent chose not to respond to anything I had to say.

I did get a nod from Mr. Lankford at one point, but no direct communication.

There was a significant amount of intimidation, disruption to normal events, and fairly overt threats tonight (and this week). But it didn’t come from me. It was instead the superintendent through his security team who was attempting to intimidate the public into silence.


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


  1. Good job, Russ, in your comments to the Board tonight, as usual!

    Good job, also, to the Providence parent who spoke. When that school was planned it was said, ” build the school and the people willl come”. It was built, and the people came – to what they believed was a K -8 school! Despite the condescending tone of Wardynski ‘ s remarks it was the people who were mislead by the Board ( surprise huh).
    Now as most other HCS schools are becoming pre – K to 8 schools, the Providence parents are supposed to shut – up and out-of-date up. They’re supposed to be grateful that their children are provided transportation for their hour and a half one way ride to school! My heart goes out to those children!

    For the record, wardynski did refer to the new ” teachers on special assignment ” feed stock “, despite his denial – I recorded it!

    What a jerk Wardynski is!

    1. Yes she did. The Providence issue was a precursor to the way Dr. Wardynski does business: he made the decision privately, pushed it through the board on the first ever Saturday board meeting that did not allow for citizens’ comments, then spent the next year ignoring questions and issues raised by the parents.

      This is his standard operating procedure.

      I haven’t checked the video yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all that he called teachers feed stock. That is exactly how he treats them. The backbone of our educational system are simply pawns to be moved around.

      1. A good leader inspires those working for him. A poor leader beats down his or her employees in an attempt to prove his power. Teacher moral is incredibly low. I cannot recommend applying to teach for Huntsville City Schools. It’s not a good place to work anymore.

        1. True. Excellent teachers are RUNNING to neighboring systems everyday.

          Which, while I don’t blame them, is exactly what Wardynski wants.

  2. Can I bring my old 40 pound camcorder to the next meeting?? sheesh

    Altho you and I don’t agree on everything about our new super, this stuff is getting downright weird.

    Next thing you know they’ll be barring phones so no one can call in a camera mob LOL

    1. Shannon,

      Thanks for your comment. I know that many people disagree with my assessment of our Superintendent, but I really appreciate hearing from those who do disagree. So thanks for posting.

      Yes, things are getting weird. And yes, it wouldn’t surprise me at all for there to someday be a ban on cell phones in their meetings as well. Mr. Lankford does seem to have a problem with the fact that I live-tweet during the meetings. He mentioned it during our last conversation.

      So yeah, it’s getting weird. Thanks for your note.

  3. The presence of the metal detector alone is enough to make one question the sanity and capacity for rational thought of W and Fangirl.
    What megalomaniacs!

    Do they truly think themselves so important, so all-powerful that anyone would think them worth killing? I mean, really, it would be a certain murder one death penalty act to assassinate one of them there in that tiny little Board room.

    Do they really think you, in particular, would trade your life, abandon your wife, daughter, and son to shut THEM up? Do they ever really think, really follow a thought all the way through to a probable conclusion?

    Gimme a break.

    Fangirl will one day be voted out, or four other members with backbone may be elected and her blind obedience (oh, and I am so happy for her that her son ceased to be a menace to innocent citizens this year [presumably]) out-voted, and as for W, well the day will come when like another W we endured, he too will be clearing the overgrowth from his plantation while someone else tries to salvage the mess he left behind.

    All things must pass.

  4. This sounds eerily reminiscent of my issues with the board. This is the status quo with HCS system. When you threaten their megalomaniacal sense of self worth and/or power, they claim the victim status and bring out the thugs. My wife was assaulted by Langford’s thugs at a school meeting that resulted in a police report. Oddly, the camera footage was “lost” of that incident.

    1. Huh. Yeah, last year when Dr. Wardynski claimed he didn’t say something he said, and I asked for the recorded video, that video was also damaged, and I never received a copy. Interesting. This is why I record it at home so long as it’s broadcast.

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