Sweeping Student Safety Under the Rug of Propaganda



It’s rather difficult keeping up with the superintendent these days, isn’t it? It seems that every day he’s on the news making unfounded, (and disturbingly paranoid) statements in an attempt to redirect attention away from his own infiltration of our system, or acting like he’s the one being bullied when people dare to ask him about bullying issues.

You’d almost feel bad for the guy. Almost.

Wardynski Has Ordered The Reduction of Referrals

The reason that I can’t feel sorry for him despite his claims that he’s insulted by people asking him questions is simple: Up until perhaps yesterday with the arrests of six students for fighting at Lee High, the superintendent has ordered principals and teachers to reduce the number of reported student incidents this year, so that he might be able to use that reduction to support his unplanned and unorganized decision to convert the district to digital curriculum from Pearson as he did at the board meeting on September 20th where he claimed he was told by principals, “Dr. Wardynski, we don’t have any discipline problems, anymore.

He wanted the school district to show a reduction in the student incident rate so that he could regularly brag that how his “leadership” has reduced student discipline problems by “60 percent in one year.

But don’t take my word for it. Take it from Mr. Bert Simmons. Mr. Simmons is a consultant that the district has hired to help address discipline issues in the classroom at both Dawson Elementary and Westlawn Middle. As such, it might prove helpful to examine exactly what Mr. Simmons’ plans are and how they tie into the superintendent’s need to reduce discipline referrals in the district so that he might continue to brag about his achievements.

What Mr. Simmons Says About Himself

Mr. Simmons, on his website, claims that he and Simmons Associates-The Education Company:

REDUCE Classroom DISCIPLINE REFERRALS by 85% IMMEDIATELY upon implementation of the plan!

[And yes, the color selections and capital letters are Mr. Simmons’ not mine.]

Mr. Simmons goes own to claim:


reduce your tardies and office referrals

effectively minimize discipline challenges

increase time-on-task

empower teachers to motivate ALL students

give you skills to work effectively with parents

turn your administrative team into effective, consistent, and empowered leaders

So twice in fewer than about 65 words, Mr. Simmons is selling his skills for reducing office referrals.

Later on the site, he claims that his comprehensive behavior management program is important to the school because:

It saves the principal trouble.

I’ve listened to Mr. Simmons’ video clips on his web site. He offers some genuinely funny accounts of his time as a school teacher and administrator, and some of his advice (like suggesting that teachers and administrators treat their students with respect) is sound classroom management technique.

HCS Pays $63,744 to Save the Principal Trouble

However, in the month of August, the district paid Simmons Associates-Ed Co $10,944.00 to begin implementing his Comprehensive Behavior Management Program at Dawson and Westlawn.


For the month of September, the district signed a temporary agreement with Simmons Associates in the amount of $16,800 ($2,400/day for seven days).


For the month of November, the district approved a temporary agreement with Simmons Associates in the amount of $36,000 ($2,400/day for 15 days).


So far our district has agreed to pay Simmons Associates $63,744 in order to “save the principal trouble.”

What Advice and Suggestions is Simmons Offering?

When a teacher has a discipline issue in her classroom that she cannot handle on her own, the “Crisis Management Team” is summoned to the room with a intercom call of “WhoWho–Room Four.”

Similar to a code call in a hospital (but far more difficult to take seriously), this call tells the Crisis Management Team to drop whatever they are doing at the moment and report to room four.

WhoWho is this Crisis Management Team you might ask? This team is made up of other teachers in the schools such as the PE teacher (who leaves his/her class with an aide) and a Special Education collaborative teacher (whom we all know has nothing better to do, like, you know, teach and assist a special needs student). There is also a third teacher involved in this Crisis Management Team.

Do you notice who is not involved?

That’s right, the principal. We must, after all, save the principal trouble and reduce the number of referrals to the office and central office so that our superintendent can continue to be told “Dr. Wardynski, we don’t have any discipline problems, anymore.”

Discipline Should Be Handled In The Classroom

Please don’t misunderstand my point here: discipline should absolutely be handled in the classroom whenever possible. A good teacher can and should manage her classroom discipline issues without regularly calling the principal or security. However, there comes a point when a student begins to so severely disrupt educational process in a classroom that the teacher needs to (and should) refer that student to someone else.

Historically, this is the principal’s or the assistant principal’s role. (Who among us doesn’t remember being sent to the principal’s office for some infraction of the rules?)

Principals Are Overworked in Zero-Sum Game

Also, please understand that our principals are overworked in our district. The superintendent has them so busy micro-managing their schools that they simply do not have time to do their job. They are being told they must constantly improve their school’s test scores in a zero-sum environment where they must compete not for the best education for all of our students, but rather they must be better than the other schools in the district.

Education isn’t a zero-sum game. All of our kids should be winners. We shouldn’t be pitting school against school as Dr. Wardynski is doing. We should be seeking the improvement of all of our schools without making some the “winners” and some the “losers.” This approach will destroy our schools and our community.

However, please tell me exactly how it makes sense for a discipline issue to disrupt not just one classroom, but potentially three classrooms while the Crisis Management Team responds to the “WhoWho” call?

Sweeping Safety Under The Rug

The reason that Simmons Associates-The Education Company is being paid $63,744 to “reduce discipline referrals by 85%” is plain: They are being paid this amount so that Dr. Wardynski can indeed sweep student safety under his rug of propaganda.

I don’t care if Dr. Wardynski takes “that as an insult, frankly.” It is the truth. And frankly, my dear superintendent, I don’t give a damn if you’re insulted by it. Stop doing it, and you won’t be insulted.

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


  1. We tried the Simmons system at our school. It doesn’t work. Not when you have teens who really aren’t intimidated by, “I understand,” being repeated by the teacher numerous times, and all the other “tricks” of the Simmons method. Teens who don’t respect their own parents, let alone teachers or other adults. The problem was getting anyone else (the crisis team) to come to your classroom if the behavior became unmanageable, and it often did when the student became frustrated by all the, “I understand” statements by the teacher. It usually ended up with the teacher having to call security anyway. What a huge waste of money, but I guess that’s now the new normal.

  2. I am so glad I don’t have children enrolled in this school district and I pity the parents who do.

  3. As a former educator at the now defunct Seldon Center, I can certainly attest to the fact that this WhoWho? system will not work with certain students. What this does is let the student know that they are invincible while they continue to “drive the train.” The result…they will up the ante of their deplorable behavior. However, those who have not been a teacher in a classroom, especially in the classrooms of our most difficult students, won’t ever understand this. Thus, the students in the classroom who really want to learn, will be neglected. Why isn’t Pinnacle, the $800,000 project, being utilized more sufficiently? I bet some of the teachers and principals are really missing the Seldon Center now.

  4. So let’s see. $3300 for 5 days. How many kids are at Westlawn and Dawson? Why not just pay the money to the kids? All or nothing: screw up once and you lose your money for the week (but every week you get to press the reset button). At the end of the week, divide money equally among kids who didn’t screw up.

    Ch-ch-ch-ching! It’s the 287th day of 2012, which mean HCS taxpayers have now spent $215,250 to reserve spots in 5 teepees at Pinnacle Schools’ Elk River Wilderness detention center.

    HCS has so few discipline problems it doesn’t even have an alternative school! Try, just try, to find a mention of Pinnacle Schools, let alone Elk River, on the HCS website. There is exactly one, which I will quote in all its ungrammatical entirety: “A student that is attending the Seldon Center or Pinnacle is only eligible to represent the Seldon Center or Pinnacle. A student attending the Seldon Center or Pinnacle cannot participate at any other school.”

    1. So they closed Seldon, reassigned teachers(?), sold the Seldon Center so they could contract with private entities with tax dollars with no over sight and accountability.

  5. Yes Redeye that is what they have done, contract out so there is no data to report in the system until………an Explosion occurs and it’s coming.

    1. We are heading for an explosion for sure. Someone is going to be seriously hurt, or we are going to have another Columbine style event happen. Bullies will be bullies and some kid is going to get sick enough of it to snap, just like at Columbine. What happened there was a tragedy for all involved, including the shooters. It’s coming….and I’m glad my son is home schooled.

  6. Thank you Russell for always keeping us up to speed on the FACTS! Please encourage everyone to ‘Like” our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SupportOurStudents We’ll be posting blogs and media coverage as they come available and will be encouraging and open dialogue for all citizens that are concerned about our students here in Huntsville.

  7. Your comments are unfair to the Superintendent and the Discipline Management Company. it appears the Superintendent and the Principal are working to address the discipline issues in the school.What would you rather them do, NOTHING? If there is a company out there that can assist the school and reduce classroom discipline referrals by 50% – that will obviously increase time on task and academic achievement.

    1. Melvin Jones,

      Thank you for sharing your opinion on this post that I wrote back in October. Do you think you could be a bit more specific about which of my comments you found to be “unfair?”

      Where is your evidence that the discipline issues in the schools were being address? Where is your evidence that the money that was spent on Mr. Simmons’ company had any effect on student discipline issues at all?

      Yes, he claims in his website that he can reduce discipline referrals by 85%. How does he manage to do this? By insisting that teachers stop teaching, leave their classrooms unattended, run to a neighboring classroom to help other teachers handle their discipline problems.

      So, how exactly is this obviously increasing “time on task and academic achievement?”

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