Wardynski Puts Propaganda Before Student Safety

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UPDATE: Because WAFF has edited their story to remove the name of the high school where the female student is being transferred to, I have removed it as well. However, Dr. Wardynski did in fact reveal the name of the high school in his original comments to WAFF. I have included a screen capture of the story below with the name of the school blurred out below. I’m pleased that perhaps Dr. Wardynski thought better of his decision to tell the world where this student was being transferred to, but he still did so. Along with Merts Center Monitor, I agree that he and the board need to be fired for their handling of this situation.

According to a report yesterday on WAFF, an unidentified 15 year-old female student at Butler High was attacked on September 17th by at least three other female students. As Nick Lough reports:

According to the victim’s mother, the attackers walked into the Butler High School bathroom as her daughter was fixing her clothes. The attackers then started punching the 15-year-old in the ribs, ripped off her two shirts and bra, and took off with the clothes, according to the girl’s mother. The victim’s mother said her daughter was forced to walk down the hallway topless as she looked for help. The mother claimed she learned about the attack when her daughter came home from school. The victim’s sibling learned of the attack after seeing a post on social media.

As is often the case when a woman or girl is attacked, the abuse didn’t end with the cessation of the violence.

After her mother took her to the emergency room and reported the incident to the Huntsville Police department, she asked Huntsville City Schools to transfer her daughter out of Butler High School.

As Atticus Finch taught Scout, let’s walk around this mother’s skin for a moment.

Seeing the World Through Another’s Eyes

Your daughter is attacked in a school bathroom by at least three other girls. She’s beaten, stripped and forced to walk topless down the hallway of the school to seek out help. Her ribs are bruised from the attack. Your other daughter hears about it on Facebook or Twitter (which is much easier now that every high schooler has a computer, an internet connection, and ready knowledge on how to circumvent the filters that block social media sites), and you? You don’t find out about it until your bruised, injured, humiliated daughter gets home to tell you about this yourself.

What would you want? What would you demand?

A transfer is the leastof what I would be asking for. And yet for a week and a half this simple request was denied by the district and the superintendent.

Wardynski Does The Right Thing ONLY When Forced To

So tonight, after Wardynski discovered that the media storm was beginning, he contacted WAFF and told them:

“Until the investigation is complete, Huntsville City Schools will grant an immediate temporary transfer for the student to xxxxxxxx High if her mother has concerns for her safety,” said Dr. Casey Wardynski on Thursday, according to a school spokesperson.

There is so much wrong with this, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

First, why did our “strong leader,” take a week and a half to arrive at the conclusion that a person who is beaten and forced to walk topless down a school hallway seeking help might have some concerns about safety?

Second, why did this decision only occur after the parent decided, reluctantly, to take her case to the media? If the district agreed that a fight occurred, why wasn’t that enough? Clearly this girl’s safety is at risk; she went to the hospital, the police are soon going to arrest a person involved in the case. Those incidents, and those incidents alone are sufficient to warrant something as insignificant as a transfer to another school.

District Claims They’re Investigating

The district claims that, “they have no proof at this point that she was stripped.”

Excuse me for a moment, but SO THE HELL WHAT?

Why isn’t being beaten by at least three other students, who were still attending school, ENOUGH?

This is completely inexcusable on the part of our district.

Video Backs Student’s Story

Further, there is a video recording that supports the claim that the girl was stripped. Butler has video cameras throughout the hallways of the school. The bathrooms are monitored constantly by these cameras. Her flight from the bathroom to the principal’s office was captured on video. I have been told from multiple sources that this video conclusively collaborates the student’s story.

And yet, for a week and a half the district refused to grant her a transfer.

Wardynski Violates Human Decency and Potentially Violates Federal Privacy Laws

And on top of this, Dr. Wardynski is so insensitive to the needs of a student who has been attacked, he violates her again by telling WAFF where they are planning to transfer her. This never should have happened. Again, walk in this mother’s skin for a moment. She’s terrified to send her child to school, and there’s the superintendent telling the press that, “if her mother has concerns for her safety,” we’ll send her to xxxxxxx High on a temporary basis.

Would you want your daughter’s attackers to hear from the superintendent where your daughter is going to be sent?

Wishing to seem generous and caring, Dr. Wardynski, in order to quell a potentially serious public relations issue, put his own needs and his own well-being before the well-being of a 15 year old girl.

For this, he should be fired.

Furthermore, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) specifically protects a student’s privacy by restricting whom has access to information about the student. You can read the list for yourself online, but suffice it to say that the news media is not authorized by the Federal government to know “any information from a student’s education record.

By revealing where the victim is being moved to the press, Dr. Wardynski revealed specific and detailed information from this student’s education record.

For this, he should be fired.

Update: WAFF has removed the name of the school from their report. I do not know why they have removed it, but I have decided to remove it from here as well. 

However, Dr. Wardynski,  DID reveal the location where the student would be transferred to temporarily last night. Here is the evidence:

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Putting Students At Risk For The Sake Of Propaganda

This past Thursday night (9/20) at the board meeting, Dr. Wardynski pulled out all the stops to rally public support for his failed “digital transition.” He had parents, business leaders, teachers, students and as many district employees as he could find speaking out in favor of his plan to convert the district to the Pearson way of doing things.

One of the many reports he offered in favor or the digital transition was from Judy Rushton, Director of Pupil Services. Before she rose to speak, Dr. Wardynski offered the following “short story:”

We were together with our principals about a week ago? And several principals, some in this room, came up to me and said, “Dr. Wardynski, we don’t have any discipline problems, anymore.” I said, “Really?” So I asked Judy to pull up the data.

Judy Rushton then shared the following information with the board:

The first twenty days of school, uh, last year compared with the first twenty days of school this year for Out Of School Suspension, last year, the system as a whole had 510 days of out of school suspension, and this year we have 201. For In School Suspensions last year the first twenty days we had 431 as a system. This year we have 215, which is about 50% decrease.

Then wanting to capitalize on this “miracle,” Wardynski said:

And I asked the principals why that would be. Three of them volunteered, right off the bat, the students are engaged. They are now engaged, and uh, we don’t have discipline problems anymore. That’s what we expected to see. [Ed. Note: Funny, when you look at data expecting to see something, you usually find it.] What drove us in this direction was Project RED study which was done nationally, 2,000 observations across schools, school systems. And the key findings are when you take this [digital conversion] approach, not just one to one technology, but content, professional development, leadership, uh, the key pieces have to be in place, uh, the things you’re going to see, uh, dramatic decrease in student discipline problems, dramatic increases in student achievement.

“Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”

As Twain once quipped, it’s easy to allow statistics to show what you want them to show.

This is particularly true when the person with the expectations for what the statistics will eventually show is in charge of the method and standards by which those statistics are collected.

Teachers, all across the district, have shared with me that they have been instructed to not send students to the office for disciplinary issues. Teachers have been ignored by students, verbally abused by students, and even hit by objects thrown by students because the students know that the teachers cannot do anything about it.

It’s easy to miraculously improve discipline issues when you suddenly change how those issues are reported.

Resource Officers (security guards) have been told that they cannot report any incident unless they witness it for themselves.

Butler has two Huntsville Police Officers and three security guards on a campus containing approximately 600 students (in a building that could hold twice that number with ease.)

It suddenly seems a lot more likely that our discipline issues have actually increased from last year, and all that has decreased is the frequency with which those issues are being reported.

And so, for the sake of supporting his transition to digital computing to decrease (in his mind at least) the importance and need for a qualified teacher, Dr. Wardynski has put our teachers, our schools and our students at risk.

He has placed more importance on a machine than on the life and well-being of a 15 year old girl.

For this, he should be fired, immediately.

Our Kids Are At Risk Because of Wardynski

My heart goes out to this family. I cannot, I’m glad to say, imagine having to go through what they are going through right now. I cannot imagine having to fight off one group of attackers only to immediately be forced to fight off the superintendent, the central office, and the board of education as well. I’m glad they have an advocate fighting along side them.

The entire city should be standing up fighting along side them as well.

Because here’s the thing: all of our schools are increasingly at risk today because of the decisions of the Superintendent. And any one of our children could be next.

Last year, I wrote about why you should care about what Dr. Wardynski is doing to Special Education children. I made the case that what Wardynski is doing to SPED kids, he will soon be doing to non-SPED kids.

Today, he’s proven me right.

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

29 Comments

  1. I cannot imagine what that mother is going through. I believe the mother handled herself better than I think I would have if put in this situation. I am praying for the family and my children everyday that they leave for school.

  2. Why was the mother not called immediately? Why did she have to learn of it from her daughter? Didn’t she need to come get her from school, bring her clothes and get her to the doctor? So angry!

    1. I couldn’t agree more. The school is quick to call when the student misses class but can’t notify a parent that something terrible has happened to their child. The students rights were violated on different levels for the school system to try and cover their asses.

  3. The written policy is for the school to immediately contact the parent. The school officials are in violations of many policies and procedures. I would think law suit for certain but the real question is will this incident correct the root cause of the break down.

  4. AMEN to your article…they don’t want to fill up Pinnacle like they did Seldon,but they should because they’re only paying them almost a million dollars! One more observation…the principal at BHS is one of W’s choosings. Google her name (Her name can be found on HCS website). You will be amazed at the findings. Clearly he didn’t do his homework AGAIN on selecting her.

  5. She is a product of the “Leadership Academy” from New York. My understanding of the “principals” from the leadership academy is they do not hold a bona fide degree in administration.

  6. There are so many things I want to say about this but I will start by saying the man who was not chosen as a finalist as HCS super was questioned about how a rape allegation was handled.

    Where was the principle that was bought in from New York(?) because of her strong disiinary skills?
    More to come……

  7. You mean Elizabeth Hachar, principal of one of NYCs worst schools? Who locked bathrooms so children could not enter? Who misappropriated funds? Who denied special ed services to students? Who reported parents who complained to the child welfare office? Excellent choice. She and the Warden make quite a pair.

  8. I am the mother of the student who was attacked at BHS. I want to thank you for writing about this. HSV City Schools has once again dropped the ball. Im going through so much BS right now to have the attackers to be brought to justice. Ive had problems all the way around. Im really over whelmed at the support from our community. As new developments occur, I will keep you posted. Thank you again.

    1. Ms. Colebank,

      I am sincerely sorry that you and your daughter have had to experience this. I believe that the HCS and BHS have failed you both. Your daughter should have been protected and you should have been notified. There is NO excuse for the failings that have occurred in this situation.

      I know you have Mr. Robinson supporting you and helping you navigate this, but know that as a citizen of Huntsville, I do NOT tolerate this and will advocate on your, or anyone’s behalf as I can.

    2. MS Colebank, you have a wonderful advocate in James. He will NOT allow this incident to just be swept under the rug. Just look at what he’s done and is still doing for the girl from Grissom that was bullied by her JROTC instructor. Stay strong. It WILL get better.

  9. Ms. Colebank, Again Thank you for taking the time to post. You better believe you have a great team of supporters for you and your family. Anything you need it is for the asking through the Geek. He knows us. It would be nice if your story could be in The Huntsville Times since W has provided so much information to the public with out regard to this involves a juvenile.

    1. Wardynski had no problem declaring a fight in the boys bathroom posted on you tube then picked up by the media as “gang related” and the boys shipped off to Pinnacle.

  10. WAFF just discussed the audio recording that contradicts HCS’s claim that “we are not sure if her clothes were removed.”

    Wardynski’s response at 6pm.

  11. I love how the district is “investigating” the assault before taking any action. Did they “investigate” before they fired Grissom’s coach for DUI? No.

    Wrote a long email to Topper Birney, cc the baord president, re this. included copius quotes from the super as reported by the Times re leadership and discipline, pointing out how actions here don’t match words. Raised questions about what liability he may have exposed the district to. Finished up by stating I have no confidence in the super.

  12. I love a single party consent state. Here’s a great quote from the latest version of the WAFF online story:

    In a recorded meeting, the principal made statements that confirm the victim lost clothes in the incident. She confirmed that after the fight, a teacher had the girl’s clothes.

    This flies directly in the face of yesterday’s statements by the district that they had no proof the girl was stripped. Someone is lying!!!!!

  13. Can you believe the statement about the policy states the investigation has to be completed or the police report has to validate the claim before a transfer is granted. Did someone think the policy was not going to be pulled and verified. This is investigative reporting guys. Help me: Mrs. Thompson was terminated for taking leave without permission, Keith was terminated for DUI, McGee was terminated for lying, falsifying documentation and thief, and Waters was terminated for incompetence. I do believe W should be terminated for lying about an nonexistent policy, violating the school system policy on transferring, endangering a student’s safety and well being and lastly, being totally incompetent in the mishandling of this situation.

  14. About those suspension stats: Pearson is repeating the BS on its site: “Superintendent Casey Wardynski announced Thursday that in the first month of the 2012 school year, the total number of student suspensions dropped from 941 in 2011 to 416 this year, a 56 percent decline. The number of students given out-of-school suspensions for more serious infractions fell 61 percent, from 510 to 201, and the number of in-school suspensions dropped 50 percent, from 431 last year to 215 this year. The report compares the first 20 school days of both years.” http://www.pearsoned.com/major-improvement-in-discipline-in-huntsville-schools-as-digital-learning-is-launched/#.UGcVwJjA-d0

    Compare this to sly phrasing actually used by W:
    “The first twenty days of school, uh, last year compared with the first twenty days of school this year for Out Of School Suspension, last year, the system as a whole had 510 days of out of school suspension, and this year we have 201. For In School Suspensions last year the first twenty days we had 431 as a system. This year we have 215, which is about 50% decrease.”

    DAYS of suspension (Wardynski) is not the same as NUMBER of suspensions. Let’s round it out to easy numbers : 1000 DAYS vs. 500 DAYS. You could have 100 [200] [500] [1000] kids suspended for 10 [5] [2] [1] days each to equal 1000 days and 100 [200] [500] [1000] suspensions AND you could have 500 [250] [100] kids suspended for 1 [2] [5] day each to equal 500 days and 500 [250] [100] suspensions.

    The point is, number of days suspended and number of suspensions are apples and oranges, as W well knows. Using the oddity of number of days instead of number of suspensions, he is counting on the distinction being lost, as it was by Pearson (and THESE are the people devising our curriculum?!?!?).

    Total number of days spent in suspension by an unknown number of students for infractions of unspecified seriousness (second incident of a Class I offense, including being tardy, out of dress code, not having the right sticker on your car, littering, can result in up to a 5 day suspension) — a meaningless number, a distraction, smoke & mirrors, propaganda, waste of time, etc.

  15. There is a reason why individuals can not pass the certification test. It is the difference between knowing the education policies and not knowing. Thanks again Shannon for the links!

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