HCS Terrified of Questions from Public

Dr. Wardynski and every one of the current board members are, evidently, terrified of actually answering questions from the public.

At the “Community Conversations” scheduled to supposedly allow the community to converse with the superintendent and the board of education about their “plan” for redistricting Huntsville, the community is, once again, not allowed to ask questions about the plan.

Here’s the message given to members of the community who bothered to show up to the Lee High meeting this afternoon at 5:00pm.

Community Conversations without Conversation

Yes, you’re reading that correctly. In order to have a question answered, you have to write it on a card so that the district can review your question and then answer the questions that they want, in their own way and time. And like the writing of questions on cards at school board work sessions, they will ignore any question that they do not want to answer.

Our elected officials are terrified of actually having to answer questions from the public.

We’ve Run Off a Third of Our Teachers

At the January 16th special called board meeting at 3:30pm, the superintendent spent 45 minutes of a meeting that was limited to a total of 90 minutes talking about all the wonderful things he has done in his time here. For example, one of his most proud moments came when he shared that he had managed to run of one-third of the teachers from the district.

In his delusional world, that was amazing news because clearly all of those teacher that he’s managed to run off were clearly bad or weak teachers. Of course that group also included teachers of the year, and among the strongest teachers this district has ever seen. Many of those who Wardynski has run off are now volunteering their time to the schools that they left. Weak teachers, indeed.

By the way, the official count according to Mr. Johnny Giles, Chief of Staff (yes, we have a chief of staff) of teachers who have retired from Huntsville City Schools since August 2011 is 177. 134 teachers have resigned since that time. 100 teachers were “not continued for employment.”

Thus, since August 2011, 411 teachers have left the district.

In addition, there have been 158 resignations and 92 retirements of other district employees since August 2011.

Therefore, the district’s official count is 661 district employees who have left since August 2011. That’s 23.61 employees leaving the district every month since Wardynski was placed in charge.

And he’s proud of this number.

Terrified of Questions

So, on January 16th, at a meeting to discuss changes in the school zone lines, Wardynski spent half of his time talking about his accomplishments before even beginning the rezoning discussion.

After he wrapped up patting himself on the back, he then presented the district’s zoning plan. (You’ll have to scroll down to page 30 to see the new plans.)

Following his presentation of the rezoning plan (which does contain changes to the Grissom zoning, despite Wardynski’s assurance on January 14, 2013 that he was not rezoning Grissom), he left a total of 12 minutes for the “public” to ask questions at the meeting.

Mr. Blair, because he is terrified of facing the voters, decided that those twelve minutes should be reserved for the public officials present at the meeting. And so the Mayor, Councilman Russell (who both expressed “full faith and confidence” in both Wardynski and the Board) spoke first. Councilman Showers spoke third and made Wardynski quite nervous as witnessed by his rapid foot tapping.

Wardynski Foot Tapping

After Councilman Showers completed speaking, while Dr. Robinson was paying close attention by texting, the meeting was adjourned without a single comment being allowed from the public—who had to fight for a seat as all the district principals were “asked” to attend.

Robinson Paying Close Attention by Texting

Community Conversations without Conversation

At the conclusion of the meeting Wardynski and Blair shouted down a citizen for daring to ask when the public would be allowed to ask questions. Their response: the public may ask questions at the Community Conversations to be held according to the following schedule:

  • Lee High, January 30th, 5:00 – 6:30pm
  • Grissom High, January 31st, 5:00 – 6:30pm
  • Huntsville High, February 1st, 9:00 – 10:30am
  • Johnson High, February 3rd, 5:00 – 6:30pm
  • Butler High, February 4th, 5:00 – 6:30pm
  • Columbia High, February 5th, 5:00 – 6:30pm

But of douse, as we now definitively know, the only way the public can ask questions is to write them down on question cards and hope that they will be chosen to be answered “at a later date.”

They are terrified of the public that they are supposed to be representing.

Contact the Department of Justice

Here’s an idea. Since our board and superintendent don’t want to answer questions from the public about their version of the rezoning plan, I would suggest going over their head to the Department of Justice.

The DoJ, will after all, have final say about what the plan looks like anyway. (The exception to this is, of course, if Wardynski gets his wish to sue the Department of Justice as he will likely ask the BoE to approve tomorrow.)

Let Sarah Hinger know that the district is completely ignoring public input into this plan. As she stated in her letter to J. R. Brooks dated December 17, 2013, the district is actually required to be involved in the plan to unify the district. I’m sure that she would be interested in knowing that the district is not doing so.

You may contact Ms. Hinger via the Department of Justice at the following address:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Patrick Henry Building, Suite 4300
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 514-4902
(202) 514-8337 (Fax)

I’m certain that since Wardynski is going to soon file suit against the Department of Justice, that she would be interested in knowing how little the public has been involved in this process.

It would seem that the board and superintendent need to look up the definition of the word conversation.

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


  1. The problem as far as I see it is that while I absolutely do not agree with the way the board is handling this, I am convinced that their rezoning plan is far better for my children and my property values than what DOJ will concoct. I know this with complete certainty. I am trapped between the devil I know and the devil I don’t know (but can reasonably ascertain). My best course at this point is to throw my support behind HCS, even as I make plans to move my students out of their system. That way, at least I can protect the value of my home. It’s a horrible compromise.

    1. I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of the effect the DOJ will have on property values.

      How do you know with complete certainty that the DOJ plan is worse?

      1. Guaranteed, it’s worse. The Civil Rights Division, in particular, has been a hive of activisim under this administration. Even the Inspector General’s office found evidence that this division is completely off the rails. This is, after all, the same DoJ which recently decreed that ANY racial discrepancies in discipline rates are de facto evidence of discrimination. So yeah, it’s pretty much guaranteed that whatever DoJ wants to do is unacceptably radical.

        1. Let’s assume for a moment that you’re right. What do you recommend as an alternative? We know the board is ignoring any and all public input.

          Should we just trust them despite the evidence of their untrustworthiness?

          1. Trust them? Oh, heck no. The way I see it, the DoJ proposal is DOA. No way Huntsville will accept it. So if the feds refuse to buy-off on the current HCS proposal, then we’ll stay under the deseg order and the system will have to go to court to get approval for redrawn zone lines for the new schools. That’s a fight they can win, because the legal bar is lower than it is for ditching the deseg order.

            What I do think we have to realize (not accept, mind you, but understand as a fact) is that the common citizens don’t run this town. The 35801/Hampton Cove elites do. The city council and the school board do exactly what the Chamber of Commerce and Committee of 100 tell them to do. And if anyone is in trouble come election time, the downtown money boys will ride to the rescue with buckets of cash. Most voters in town don’t pay attention to local politics, and they vote for whomever has the nicest billboard or seems to have the best personal story. John Olshefski won the District 3 council race four years ago based on his being a retired Army colonel. The fact that he was bought-and-paid-for by people outside the district didn’t seem to bother most voters one bit. And he’s voted on the council exactly like you would expect; that is, as if he’s representing District 2.

            So we can kick up a fuss about the lack of true public input, and we should continue to do so, but as long as the mayor, Joe Ritch, the CoC, and the Co100 have their lips glued to Wardynski’s backside, as long as the public remains largely apathetic, and as long as the local media continue to be the pathetic lapdogs they are, Wardynski and the board can do pretty much whatever they want. And they know it.

            1. Excellent insight as always, Ben. I agree with you where the power base is for this town.

              I’m convinced that Wardynski wants a lawsuit. It will make him a bigger name, and it will bring to a halt all talk of rezoning, which isn’t something he wants to do anyway because it would impact 35801 the most.

              I truly think the “rezoning” is a red-herring.

        2. I found out this morning that for the new Grissom, they are only planning to do an auditorium for about 600 seats. Our current Grissom auditorium seats way more than that. From what I understand, the DOJ is trying to make sure that all new high schools are equal. Even though enrollment numbers will be totally different. The auditorium should be based on student numbers, not an average of all the schools.

            1. It wasn’t my intention to say that we should trust the DOJ. I don’t trust the Obama administration on any education related issues (and I’m a liberal 🙂 ). What I was trying to say was that I do not trust the board to do anything other than look out for their own backsides.

          1. FYI — I was told tonight that the size of the auditorium is being bumped up to 850 but that the size limitation is a budget issue. A mitigating factor is that the current Grissom auditorium will still be available for productions with larger seating needs.

            Not knowing what the budgets are for the two high schools or how this sausage is being made, exactly, I’m not sure how legit the budget explanation is. Just reporting what I was told.

            1. Geez! That’s sad considering the current auditorium seats 1200. According to one of the band directors, we need at least 1000 seats. ugh!

        1. Yes, I have lingering questions.

          The plan that Dr. Wardynski presented last night as the DoJ plan was Dr. Wardynski’s interpretation of the DoJ plan. I would like to see the DoJ document without the filtering. I have no reason to trust that his presentation was an accurate representation of the actual DoJ plan.

          Second, consider this:

          Let’s suppose that the plan was accurate and that the Wardynski plan is superior. Let’s further suppose that a federal judge agrees that the Wardynski plan is the superior plan and orders its implementation.

          What then? As Mr. Brooks said last night in response to one of the few questions that they choose to read from the re-zoning meetings, rezoning is a part of the process to move towards a unified system and to lift the desegregation order. It does not end the desegregation order.

          So, let’s suppose that we win in federal court after months to years of litigation. What have we won?

          The district will still be under the control of the DoJ except now the plan that the DoJ believed would bring us unification has been rejected.

          They still control our destiny. Does fighting their plan bring us closer to unification?

          Nope. It doesn’t.

          We’ve accomplished absolutely nothing here except the following:

          1. Wardynski has shored up support for himself in this town because he’s fighting the evil federal government.
          2. Wardynski has improved his name recognition on a national level.
          3. Wardynski has spent a ton of the district’s money.
          4. We’re still a segregated system.

          Lunacy of the highest order, indeed.

  2. Would anyone happen to have the comparable numbers for the previous superintendent? I realize Dr. W’s percentages are higher. Just curious!

  3. Couldn’t agree more about the loss of good teachers. The Mountain Gap middle-school grades have lost four of their best teachers since Wardynski came on board, either to early retirement or other employment. But does he care? Of course not. And Jennie Robinson dismisses it as being a case of “teachers who just don’t want to change.” Shameful.

    1. Indeed it is. She didn’t bother to show for the meeting until it was nearly over, and then spent her time texting and rolling her eyes at anyone she disagreed with.

      Self-serving doesn’t begin to capture it.

      1. I don’t think she’s really self-serving. I think it’s just a combination of myopia, hubris, and nearly-unquestioning devotion to anything Dear Leader wants to do. She’s completely bought in to the Gates/Rhee/Broad school of thought, and she cannot conceive of how anyone cannot see how wonderful and it is. I also think that after years of being on the board while ARM was coasting along, running the ship aground, Robinson is invigorated by the “progress” we’re now making. Unfortunately, she isn’t nearly concerned enough about which direction, exactly, it is in which we are “progressing.”

  4. I just found out I am getting kicked from Huntsville high school. As i understand this plan will be adopted Thursday. This feels like a bumrush. Is there any hope of organizing opposition? I am livid.

  5. Russell – first of all thanks for your continued efforts in covering this information. I attended the Huntsville High community “conversation” this Saturday. I am in the 35801 district and obviously very concerned about the re-zoning impact especially the capacity numbers of Huntsville high now and the impact after re-zoning reaching close to 120% – no other school has these statistics by the way. Your comment made a little more sense but I had a question. My understanding of what prompted this re-zoning process was initially that the DoJ had ordered it, but then understood this was something that had been in place and addressed and that it didn’t require a re-zoning at this time, but apparently something that was on Wardynski’s list to do. Is that correct? Are there rumors that he plans to sue? thanks

    1. The DoJ did not order HCS to rezone. HCS is petitioning to be released from the desegregation order. Yes this was on Warsynski’s to do list.

  6. I have to say this was very well played. Announce the plan in a five day count down and structure the delivery so that no one knows who their allies are at the meeting. No time to oppose and no idea who to rally.

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