...

Student Safety Demonstration Tomorrow and Thursday at Merts

Untitled

There will be a peaceful demonstration tomorrow (Monday, October 1, 2012) from 11:00am – 1:00pm outside of the Merts building at 200 White Street, N. to end the superintendent’s and the board of education’s disregard of student safety issues in our schools. On Thursday, September 20th, three days after a 15 year old girl was assaulted in a bathroom at Butler High School, Dr. Wardynski claimed that principals were telling him that they “don’t have any discipline problems” as a result of his decision to incorporate laptops into the classrooms. As I pointed out on Friday, it’s amazingly easy to reduce both in school and out of school suspensions when you refuse to allow incidents to be reported.

Teachers’ Reports on Student Safety Aren’t Being Submitted

Just today I had a conversation with a former employee of the district who reported to the office nearly 200 separate Class I, II, and III to his principal’s office last year. At the end of the year when he checked on the status of those reports basically 10% of the referrals had actually been reported to the central office.

This year they’re reporting even less.

Please don’t misunderstand: there are times when things get reported because the teacher and the administration are following the letter of the law. Most of us find the suspension of a six-year old for sexual harassment for singing “Sexy and I Know It,” (which occurred in Wardynski’s (and Cooper’s and Spinelli’s) old stomping ground of Aurora, Colorado) to be an extreme example of a school following the letter of the law unnecessarily.

But when a teacher is punched in the mouth by a student, and nothing happens to that student, then we know we have a problem.

Following The Broad Academy Playbook

In this area, Dr. Wardynski seems to be following standard Broad Academy procedures of creating a hostile working environment for teachers. Another Broad Academy Superintendent was accused of creating an atmosphere that lacked discipline. “Administrators were reluctant to suspend or expel disruptive students.

It would be extremely interesting to compare incidents reported by teachers to those actually submitted to the district’s Pupil Services office, wouldn’t it?

I’d bet, however, that like times when I’ve asked for a report on how many TFAers were being hired this year and where they were being placed that a report showing incidents reported by teachers and those passed on by principals would be somewhere around the 10% average. Anyone want to take that bet?

Didn’t think so.

And this year they’re reporting about 50% less.

Putting Kids At Risk For PR

It makes for nice propaganda for the corporate (Pearson) handlers to put on their website, and for “research” like Project RED to report in their non-peer reviewed “studies” that show how computers are the new cure-all.

The superintendent is regularly putting all of our students at risk in order to promote his political/corporate agenda.

Think it won’t happen to your child? I certainly hope it won’t but if it happens to one child, it can happen to any child. He put Special Education children at risk a year ago, and then again this year.

Now he’s doing it to every child.

Breaking Alabama Administrative Code

Because safety doesn’t matter to him. If it did, he would have granted the transfer of the student from Butler immediately. If it did, once he did grant the transfer he wouldn’t have revealed which school she was being moved to in violation of Alabama Administrative Code 290-3-1-.02 (1) (e) 2 which reads:

A student who becomes a victim of a violent criminal offense committed on school property during school hours or at school-sponsored activities shall be given an opportunity to transfer to a safe public school within the LEA. The LEA shall notify the student’s parent/guardian of the right to transfer as soon as practicable, not to exceed ten (10) calendar days from the date of a final determination by the school board or its designee that a violent criminal offense has occurred.

The incident at Butler occurred on September 17th. The transfer was held up until September 28th or two days past the requirement of this code.

Again, if you think this can’t happen to your child at your school, take a look at the Student Incident Report from 2011-2012. This questionable report shows that incidents occurred at every school in the district except four.

In an environment where teachers are demoralized, overworked and exhausted; in an environment where principals are facing constant changes in staff and responsibilities; in an environment where the Superintendent is willing to put children at risk simply to make a public relations point:

EVERY CHILD IS AT RISK.

Peaceful Demonstrations

Tomorrow and Thursday are your opportunities to let the superintendent and the school board that you’re watching and that you’re not going to take it anymore.

Tomorrow a group of concerned parents and citizens are meeting at the Merts Building 200 White Street, N., Huntsville, AL. from 11:00am to 1:00pm come rain or shine.

Then on Thursday, October 4th at 5:30pm, we will be joined by students as we attend the school board meeting and speaking to the board directly.

If you would like to be placed on the list to speak, you must sign up to speak before the meeting starts. You may do so in two ways either by contacting the office of the Superintendent at 256-428-6810 and being asked to be placed on the Citizens’ Comments list. (Has anyone else noticed just how hard it is to get any actual contact information off the district’s website lately? Guess they don’t want you to call.) You will be asked your Name, the Group you represent, and the Purpose of your comments.

Alternately, you may simply show up for the meeting early (the doors typically open around 5:00pm), and sign in on the Citizens’ Comments sheet. That sheet is usually available in the hallway until about 5:15pm.

If there is any way you can join us tomorrow or Thursday, I would love to see you there as we stand up for our kids.

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

24 Comments

  1. Do newspapers, TV stations, PTA’s know about the protests?

    When W first arrived, his picture was in the paper almost every day, and on TV as well. I believe as reality has set in, the cheerleading has become less enthusiastic.

    His and J. Robinson’s main cheerleader was the Southeast Civic Association. Is it even still around?

    1. “His and J. Robinson’s main cheerleader was the Southeast Civic Association. Is it even still around?”

      Wrong on all counts. The SHCA (South Huntsville Civic Association) never took a public stance on Wardynski that I am aware of. And Robinson’s and Wardynski’s biggest cheerleader by far is what you might call “elite Huntsville” (i.e., Committee of 100, Chamber of Commerce, Joe Ritch, Tommy Battle, City Hall, etc.). You know, the people whose kids go to Randolph.

      1. The SHCA was behind the removal of Dr. Ann Roy Moore, they also supported Robinson, Blair, and Birney, who voted to hire Wardynski. To say the SHCA never took a PUBLIC stance on Wardynski is true.

        There is an old saying….if you can’t get in through the front door go around to the back door.

        1. You never did let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory, Edgra.

          The SHCA did endorse Robinson and Blair, but not Birney (no endorsement was made in that race).

          Be that as it may, the idea that SHCA directed Robinson and Blair to select Wardynski is laughable. The SHCA only wishes it had that much influence. If anyone had that kind of juice, it would be the kingmakers downtown. Everyone knows who pulls the strings in this town.

          As for the SHCA, I know for a fact that several of its leaders were less than thrilled with Wardynski’s selection from the beginning and are even less happy about it now.

          But hey, whatever. Continue your litany from the grassy knoll…

          1. Speaking of not letting facts get in the way, remember this BEN?
            SHCA Legislative and Superintendent Forum
            http://www.flashpointblog.com/?p=8852

            Me and Ben and about 300 of our closest friends attended the South Huntsville Civic Association Superintendent reception and legislative forum this evening at Grissom High School. This was HCS Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski’s first public meeting in his new job, and the SHCA invited every member of the South Huntsville legislative delegation to help welcome Casey.

            State Senator Arthur Orr (R), Senator Paul Sanford (R), Senator Clay Scofield (R), Representative Mike Ball (R), and Representative Howard Sanderford (R) were on hand to answer questions during the forum. BTW it feels really good to be writing (R) after all of those seats. Huntsville City Councilman John Olshefski was also on the panel. Read on for Casey’s speech and the Q&A…

            Notables included: Madison County Commissioner Phil Riddick (R), Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Deputy Mayor Rex Reynolds, Chief Mark Hudson, Councilman Mark Russell, HCS BOE member Jennie Robinson, BOE member Laurie McCauley, BOE member Alta Morrison, former Mayor Loretta Spencer, and former Councilman Sandra Moon.

            Former Congressman Parker Griffith and Wayne Parker (recently appointed to the Governor’s Insurance Commission) attended, as well as Coach Walker McGinnis. The Huntsville Times reporter Crystal Bonvillian (who wrote an excellent article about Superintendent costs) and WHNT-19′s Emmy-nominated reporter Venton Blandin provided news coverage.

            I know it’s probably difficult to find a good school superintendent joke, but let’s be clear – Dr. Casey Wardynski is not a comedian. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a comedian to run the schools.

            Wardynski spoke about “best value” for student achievement and “alternatives generating the greatest value”. “Value is normative based on community engagement”. “Develop consistent criteria based on values”. Schools are part of the City as a whole and must “reflect community values”. “Think in terms of the future instead of closings”.

            Wardynski plans to apply a systems analysis approach to education, which may work well in Huntsville. At least we’ll know what he’s talking about. “Systems analysis line toward propagating excellence”. “Need to have an eye toward the weaker parts of the system”.

            Wardynski focuses on the “human” factors first, as shown in the process developed for hiring 9 new principals. Casey assembled a review board of principals for their ‘recognized excellence’ (Pickens of Challenger, Drake of Grissom, Scott of Rolling Hills, plus others I can’t take notes fast enough to include – those three are great principals – so far so good) and included some parents on the team. Casey’s approach is to identify excellent principals, recognize them publicly (humans usually like that), and have them help select excellent candidates for hiring. Casey believes that this process will “create a culture” with “high expectations, rigor, and high achievement”.

            1. Um, yes… Wardynski, as the then newly-hired schools superintendent, was invited to speak so that people could hear what he had to say. And your point would be…?

                1. And by that same logic, the NAACP is one of Romney’s biggest cheerleaders since that group invited him to speak at its convention. Thanks for playing.

                    1. Asking a public official to speak at a meeting is not an endorsement. I would hope that even you could understand this, Edgra.

                    2. “The SHCA invited every member the south Huntsville Legislative delegation to help welcome Casey”.

      2. I understand your general suggestion, but to be fair, Tommy Battle’s kids attended public school.

  2. Did you all discuss putting a few peaceful demonstrators on the corner of California/Andrew Jackson near Merts? There are a lot more cars that go past that intersection than 200 White Street.

    I wish you all the best of luck. I will be there with you in spirit. All of you are in my thoughts and prayers for doing what I cannot.

  3. Every administrator and teacher and nurse in the HCS is a mandatory or obligatory reporter of child [elder, disabled] abuse. This means that if they see signs of abuse to a child, they are obliged by law to report it to DHR and/or the Huntsville Police Department.

    You may say, and there is dispute about this, that juvenile-on-juvenile violence doesn’t count. But I don’t believe — and correct me if I am wrong — that this exception is in the law because until an incident of domestic violence in particular is investigated, whether it was an adult or minor (for example, an older sibling) who was the perpetrator can’t be known for certain.

    My understanding is that there are three police officers at Butler. The girl who was beaten and left to seek help half-dressed should have been urged to complete a police report then and there. How do we know she wasn’t? Because had she done so, a parent or guardian would have had to sign off with her, which means her mother would have had to have been notified (and that she wasn’t is an outrage in and of itself).

    Is it because Wardynski and the Board have contracted with Pinnacle to place kids at its remote private detention center that the police were bypassed? I don’t know.

    If you want to put an end to bullying and assault, then urge victims to press charges. Then stay on top of the DA’s office and make sure they do their job. Don’t assume they will. Trust me on this if nothing else.

    It seems to me that the least, the very least, we should expect of the Colonel and his minions is that they abide by the law.

  4. Facts that seem to be missing. The motherand the media released where the child was going to be transferred not the BOE. The mother filed charges against one student instead of all three. The normal procedure is not to transfer the student that was assaulted but to remove the offenders by suspension or police arrest. Note the police report was not filled until much later. Last but not least the advocate that spoke with the principal who taped the conversation without consent committed a criminal act. He gave that tape to the media as proof of the conversation. So he has put himself, the parent and the student in a bad place. The protest is a good idea to bring attention to bullying but that is exactly what it should be for. What I see is individuals putting all the problems the system has into one protest. Please don’t use that child’s pain to move some agenda against the BOE and Dr. W. There is a time and place for everything. Work to help the kids and separate the other things for another protest

    1. “Just today I had a conversation with a former employee of the district who reported to the office nearly 200 separate Class I, II, and III to his principal’s office last year. At the end of the year when he checked on the status of those reports basically 10% of the referrals had actually been reported to the central office”.

      Did you have a conversation with the principal to determine why only 10% were reported? There are always two sides to a story that should be understood, especially before trying to form a protest.

      1. There is an old saying…. If you throw a rock at a pen full of pigs the one that squeals is the one that’s hit.

      2. Mr. Kirby,

        Thank you for your question. You are correct: there are almost always at least two sides to every story. To answer your question, no. I did not ask the principal why only 10% of the incidents were reported.

        I did not ask for two reasons: first, that was not the primary purpose of the post. That is an ancillary concern of mine, and since it was Sunday and I would consider it rude to bother a principal then, I did not ask. If that were the single concern, yes, I would attempt to ask a principal for a response.

        I will follow up on that and report what I find out in the future. (Please remember, in case you didn’t know, I’m not a reporter. I do have a full-time job. This is a passion of mine. It is not my employment.

        Since you seem to have the ability to receive answers that I do not, perhaps you could ask as well. I’ll be happy to publish whatever you uncover.

        Second, I have not asked because I believe that most principals would tell me that what he/she does or does not report to the central office is of no concern of mine unless the incident not being reported involves my child. To a large degree I agree with that position. The person I spoke with volunteered the information without violating any FERPA laws in doing so. If a principal would like to do the same, I will be happy to publish that information as well.

    2. To Redline:
      1. You don’t agree that Alabama Administrative Code 290-3-1-.02 (1) (e) 2 supercedes local policy or that local policy should be in accord with Alabama law?
      2. Before WAFF revised its story, and screenshots of original are on this blog, Wardynski was quoted as saying the girl had been granted a temporary transfer to XXX High. Take it up with WAFF if they wrongly attributed the quotation to W. Why suppose they did, however?
      3. The victim is a juvenile. An adult has to sign the police report. Since Butler neglected to notify her mother when the incident occurred, of course the police report couldn’t be filed immediately. No notice to mom=no mom at school=no mom’s signature on police report=delay filing report. What part don’t you get?
      4. We don’t know why the decision was made to sign a petition of delinquency by the mom against one girl instead of three. Could be that two are going to cooperate against third. Could be that tape shows clearly only one doing the hitting. Isn’t really our business is it?
      What is our business? Knowing — if only in theory — what should happen if our child is the next victim. Policies should be in place and shared with those most affected by them: students.

    3. Redline: Thank you for your comments.

      First: I never claimed that the BOE released anything concerning this case. They haven’t. They’ve been noticeably silent in fact. (I did see Topper Birney cruising around Merts today, but that was it.) The mother, however, did not release any information about where the student was being sent. The media was printing what they were told to print by a “district spokesperson.” They removed that information once they realized that the information shouldn’t be published. They pulled that information on their own. Once I realized they had, I did as well.

      The school transfer information was released by Dr. Wardynski via a “district spokesperson.” The mother did not want that information made public and was quite surprised when she was told that WAFF had quoted this district spokesperson as saying where she would be temporarily transferred to. The mother didn’t receive the paperwork concerning the transfer until Friday afternoon, September 28th. The information that she was being transferred was made public on Thursday, September 27th between 5 and 6pm.

      The mother has filed charges on two of the three girls involved in the case as that is now all that the school security claims they can identify.

      I agree that the normal procedure is to remove the offending students and not the victim. As the victim was topless in the hallway, it would seem that an exception could and should be made in this case. I would want the same for my daughter if she desired it. I’m sure you would too.

      I do not know when the police report was filed. As the mother had a difficult time getting adequate information about the case from the school officials, I’m sure that it took her some time to work out the details sufficiently to file the report.

      Your information about the advocate taping the conversation illegally is also not correct. Alabama is a single party consent state. This means that so long as one person in the party knows that the recording is happening, the recording is completely legal. You may review this law at: In short, you may record your own conversation with others.

      However, the advocate did not record this conversation in private. He recorded it publicly and openly. In fact, the meeting with the principal had to be delayed so that the principal could obtain her own recording device so that two recordings could be made. The recording was not made illegally as you have asserted. If it had been, WAFF would not have run with the story.

      The protest is to bring attention to bullying. That is all that it is. You may read more about the protest that the facebook event associated with the event. As you see, I am not the organizer of the event. In fact, I simply attended the event today. I have not spoken to the media at all on this matter.

      My blogs about the events are an attempt to provide some context to the incident. I am not using “that child’s pain to move some agenda against the BOE and Dr. W.” I am simply showing how things are connected. If I were using the incident, I’m fairly certain that the mother, her advocate, and her lawyer would have contacted me asking me to stop. They haven’t.

      You are, of course, free to disagree with me on this point and anything else.

      The entire reason that this blog exists is an attempt to “work to help the kids,” parents and teachers. All three are necessary for education to occur.

      Thanks for your post.

  5. Reline, It is disappointing to find a HCS official in a defensive position on this page. It is evident when you are on the defensive you have made many missteps. It continues as I read the interview on AL.com today from Dr. Wardynski. He continues to give the name of the school the student is transferring to…Xxxxxx. What part of juvenile protection he seems to miss? I, as a parent would not be enrolling my child in the reported school because of this mishandling. If HCS personnel would spend its valuable time in following the policies and less time in trying to convince the public the system it did not tell a lie the system maybe able to move forward in keeping our children and teachers safe.

    [Note: I have redacted the name of the school from this post. Even though the superintendent continues to reveal this information, I will not republish it here. The Huntsville Times should follow suit. Russell]

Comments are closed.