So, anyone read anything interesting in the paper today?
In case you missed it, here’s a link to Crystal Bonvillian’s article about the events at the board meeting last Thursday, May 3, 2012.
There are just a few follow up points that I would like to make.
First, citizen comments are typically placed at the end of the meeting once all the business is completed. For some reason, I’ve been told it was an accident, the citizen comments portion of the meeting was not broadcasted this past Thursday. The last time citizen comments were broadcast was on April 19, 2012. That evening a teacher, who is well known by the board and Dr. Wardynski, Mrs. Pam Hill, stood to speak. She was frustrated at the way teachers had been treated that night.
This was not a typical comment by Mrs. Hill, but I fully understand her frustration. You see the board, last summer, voted to freeze teachers step raises and reduce teachers starting salaries to the state minimum. And yet at the meeting Dr. Wardynski, who was playing round robin with principals again, claimed that principals, and not teachers, would be rewarded for their teachers’ hard work during the year.
The interesting part was how Dr. Wardynski chose to respond to Mrs. Hill.
Here’s the clip.
Yes, rather than simply ignore her as he typically ignores me, Dr. Wardynski decided to “caution” her. He said:
Ms. Hill, you’re an employee of Huntsville City Schools. You do not represent Hampton Cove Elementary School. So that was a misrepresentation. Uh number two, you stood there the night I read the specifications against Principal McGhee. Uh, Principal McGhee was relieved for a whole host of reasons that where upheld in court. That had to do with poor leadership, ethical questions. And so we will relieve such leaders, we will relieve such teachers, and so I would caution you when talking to your employers to speak to them as your employers. The Board is your employer.
And that was the last time citizen comments were broadcast via eTV.
After I completed my comments on Thursday (which I began by saying thank you to Dr. Wardynski), I received several texts letting me know that the eTV broadcast had been turned off at the beginning of the citizen comments. Since Dr. Wardynski indicated that he wanted to respond to my comments, I decided to record his response so that I wouldn’t miss anything he had to say. (Normally, I record the broadcasts on TiVo, but since it wasn’t being broadcast that wasn’t possible.)
I was able to record approximately one minute and fifty-seconds of the remaining comments before I was asked to turn off the iPad.
The only reason I was attempting to record the rest of the meeting was because it wasn’t being broadcast.
Second, I have written to Mrs. Laurie McCaulley to ask for permission to be allowed to record the board meetings in accord with Alabama State Code which states:
“A meeting of a governmental body, except while in executive session, may be openly recorded by any person in attendance by means of a tape recorder or any other means of sonic, photographic, or video reproduction provided the recording does not disrupt the conduct of the meeting. The governmental body may adopt reasonable rules for the implementation of this section.” Alabama Code Section 36-25A-6.
She has not yet responded to my request.
Third, I have not as of this writing, heard from any of the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education members in response to the events on Thursday other than the brief conversation that I had with Mrs. Morrison following the meeting. As I wrote on Thursday, I offered her my apology if I had indeed intimidated her. Her response was to laugh at the unnecessary apology.
To date no one on the board has confirmed that I have the right to record the public portion of the board meetings.
It’s been a busy day on the blog. For any new visitors, I’d like to say thanks for stopping by. I appreciate having the opportunity to be heard. If you have questions, or if you disagree with anything I’ve written here, please take a moment to ask them or raise your issues in the comments.
Alternately, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Palaver means holding an in-depth conversation, in case you were wondering.
For all my regular readers: Thank you for taking the time to read my wordy posts. Believe it or not, I do actually trim them down!
Finally, if I may be so bold, I would ask that you remember this one thing:
My being asked to leave the board meeting for recording it is nothing, absolutely nothing, in comparison to the stress and pressure that our teachers, instructional assistants, therapists, staff, custodians, lunch staff, principals, administrators and our kids–especially our kids–have had to face this year, all year without relief.
My being asked to leave is nothing compared to the stress and pressure that our Special Education kids have had to deal with in the face of constant changes to their lives.
If you’ve had an employee of Huntsville City Schools behave in a way that was less supportive than you expected, keep in mind the amount of stress they’ve been under and respond by telling them how much you appreciate their service to our children. It is, after all Teacher (and all our other educators) Appreciation Week.
If you feel a need to do something about the events last Thursday, I would ask that you consider the following:
- Thank a Teacher/Educator for her or his dedicated service to our kids.
- Call your board member and ask them to make responding to the public a much higher priority than it’s been before.
- Continue paying attention to the board meetings. Yes, they’re boring, but the decisions that Dr. Wardynski makes and that the board approves will impact your children’s education for a long time to come. At a minimum, you need to know what those decisions are.