Yesterday the Huntsville Times ran an article concerning the new Nepotism Policy that has been implemented by the Huntsville City School Board forcing family members of board members to resign from Huntsville City Schools. Since Dr. Wardynski prides himself on not talking to parents, it’s good that the Times has an education reporter who is able to ask questions. (Please go read the article and support the Times.) Both Wardynski and McCaulley spend much time in the article offering explanations and justifications for the inclusion of the policy.
Ms. McCaulley claims that she had nothing to do with the writing of the policy, and that the policy was reviewed by nine members of the Huntsville Education Association. She goes on to claim that “Pat was sitting in the crowd. No one asked a question.”
There is so much wrong with this defense that it’s truly difficult to know where to start. First, the policy wasn’t written by the committee, it was initially reviewed and developed by “an expert on school district policies” that was hired by the district upon Dr. Wardynski’s recommendation. In other words, the changes to the policy manual were developed and reviewed by a consultant who is paid by the board. It was not developed by the committee of 17 (nine of whom are HEA members).
She is right when she states that there were teachers who are members of HEA who served on the Policy Manual Review committee, but please note, those are teachers not lawyers.
For some inexplicable reason, HEA did not, it seems, provide any legal review of the updated policy manual. This “oversight” will come back to haunt HEA for years. I’m sure that the board’s legal representation was quite giddy at the prospect of getting to rewrite policy as they wished.
Ms. McCaulley also reprimands Ms. King for not asking questions about the policy when it was discussed and voted on by the board on June 21st. This is simply an attempt to redirect attention away from her own actions.
Ms. McCaulley is fully aware that the public did not have access to the policy manual on June 21st. The board did not publish the new policy manual for the public until after the new policy had been approved. As I pointed out in a previous post, the March Draft of the policy manual did not contain the nepotism policy to exclude relatives of teachers from running for a seat on the board. There was, in other words, no way for Ms. King to have known that the board was passing a policy that would require her husband to resign his position if she were elected to the board.
Of this, I am sure, Ms. McCaulley is completely aware. The board is quite careful to limit access to items under consideration until they have actually been approved. There’s little reason for this, but it is their standard operating procedure.
Board is Not the Policy-Making Body
Dr. Wardynski picks up the defense of this policy next by claiming that “We recommended it to the board; the board didn’t bring it to us.” In other words, he’s claiming that the only input that our elected officials had in developing policy for our school system was to approve it once it was written.
I’m sorry, but does anyone else have a problem with that?
The job of the school board isn’t simply to approve policies that the superintendent makes, their job is to make those policies themselves. As the board’s website states, “The Huntsville City Board of Education is the policy-making body of the School District.”
If the board didn’t have input into the development of the policy manual, then what exactly is the purpose of the board?
Dr. Wardynski goes on to cite the troubles in Birmingham as justification for including a nepotism policy that requires family members of newly elected school board members to resign their position.
While it may be true that instances of nepotism (use of position to benefit family members) have occurred with the Birmingham board, these instances were related to board members allegedly using their positions to hire family members.
As there is already state law restricting such instances of nepotism, a board policy that restricts that is not necessary. The new nepotism policy goes far beyond state law in the restrictions it places on board members.
As I predicted, the superintendent then tried to lay the responsibility for the new policy at the feet of the Alabama Association of School Boards. And again, as I pointed out the AASB does not recommend a policy as restrictive as the one that the Huntsville City School Board enacted.
Nepotism Policy “Worth a Shot”
Finally, Wardynski wraps up his defense of the policy with his fairly common response:
Rather than attempting to avoid doing something potentially illegal, the superintendent would rather push his agenda of restricting who can and who cannot serve on the school board, even if it means wasting money. In other words, Dr. Wardynski has just admitted that he is using this policy to advance his agenda.
He thinks it’s “worth a shot” to try and get a board that is increasingly favorable to his corporate policies by keeping those who have any connection to teachers off the school board.
He is intimidated by those who have dedicated their lives to education. He wants them as far away from him as possible, and he’s willing to risk being sued (especially since it isn’t his money he’s risking) to secure his position.
Last month, I pointed out that Dr. Wardynski benefits from this policy. With this statement, he has admitted that he does.