An Appropriate Education

HCSBoard Seal

So there’s another board meeting tomorrow night at 5:30pm at the Merts Center, 200 White Street. I’ll be there, and supposing that there aren’t any technical issues that halt the broadcast as there was two weeks ago, you can watch it at home on ETV (Comcast 17, Knology 99), and at the Huntsville City Schools website. I’ll be whining away on Twitter @russwinn during the meeting. You can also catch my posts on the Geek Palaver Facebook Page. All of this supposes of course that I will be allowed to attend the meeting.

The agenda for tomorrow has been published, and they’re going to talk (again?!?) about evaluating the superintendent, the new school calendar,  and just how wonderful hiring countless numbers of consultants has been for the district.

So, again, while teachers salaries are still set at the state minimum, while teachers STEP raises are still frozen, on a night when they are going to discuss “Principals’ Terminations,” the superintendent will likely walk home with a $10,000 bonus in his pocket for successfully passing the test that the board specifically designed for him to be able to pass.

(One of the standards of evaluation that was placed upon Dr. Wardynski was to raise AP participation rates. As he himself indicated even before they voted to approve that as one of his goals, he had already accomplished that. It’s nice when your standard for success includes items that you’ve already completed.)

Yes, they will be discussing this bonus even before they discuss the new state assembly mandated school calendar.

Concerning the calendar: it seems that Dr. Wardynski and the board should actually thank the assembly for providing political cover for his decision to remove fall break from the calendar. Remember tomorrow night when Dr. Robinson calls for citizens to complain about their loss of a fall break to their representatives in Montgomery that she, along with every member of the board except Mr. Blair, had already approved a school calendar that removed fall break.

Here’s a listing of the significant dates including closed dates:

  • August 20, 2012: First Day of School
  • September 3, 2012: Labor Day
  • No Fall Break (This was already gone in Dr. Wardynski’s original calendar for 2012-2013)
  • November 12, 2012: Veterans Day
  • November 21-23, 2012: Thanksgiving Break
  • December 24-January 2: Christmas Break
  • January 21, 2013: MLK Day
  • March 25-29, 2013: Spring Break
  • May 23, 2013: Last Day of School

There are no built-in weather days, but it is unclear at this time how weather days will be handled. It is at least possible by one interpretation of the “Beach Bill” that those days might be allowed to occur after May 23, 2013. Another interpretation would mean that the school day would be required to be extended until the hours are made up. I would be quite surprised if even our esteemed representatives know for sure.

It’s always nice when education suffers as a direct result of industry lobbying. I love the Alabama Gulf Coast, but this is an evil decision they have forced upon the state. It’s remarkably similar to Dr. Wardynski’s decisions to privatize so many of the district’s functions. Again, if it weren’t for the district taking his control, Dr. Wardynski would, I’m sure, love the sentiment behind the decision: namely that public education should be run by private organizations, industries, and businesses.

There will, after all, be at least four new contracts approved tomorrow night with private organizations.

After this discussion they will move on to an encomium of all the amazing, wonderful, fantastic, astonishing contractors who don’t cost us anything, they save us money. I’m sure it will sound nothing like a (warning: stereotype ahead) woman coming home from the store with three-hundred dollars on the credit card talking about all the money she “saved.” Verifiable evidence will be in short supply.

Oh, and there’s an ominously titled item called “Principals’ Terminations” under new business.

And finally, despite my best efforts to clear all of this mess up before tomorrow’s meeting, I still don’t know if the board or Dr. Wardynski will allow the public to video record the meeting tomorrow night.

Here’s the question I asked of Mrs. McCaulley as School Board President:

Will I be allowed to record future public board meetings in accordance with Alabama State Code 36-35A-6? [This section 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.”].

To this question, Mrs. McCaulley responded on Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 9:28pm:

Response: As president of the board you have my permission to operate within the perimeters of the law. After I read the Alabama State Code Section 36-35A-6, you cited above, I noticed it used the term “may be openly recorded”   therefore one could interpret openly recording is not a mandate or requirement but optional.

You’ll note that she has not stated if I may actually record the meeting tomorrow night without being asked to leave the meeting again, and without being told I was “intimidating the board” as Mr. Lankford said, or called “intimidating and threatening” as Mrs. Anderson stated in an email to the Huntsville Times last Tuesday.

I followed up this non-response from the board President by asking:

“If on Thursday, May 17th, I attempt to record the board meeting in exactly the same manner as I did on Thursday, May 3rd, should I expect to be asked to leave the meeting?”

I have received no response to this question.

So, if I should attempt to record the meeting tomorrow night, I have no idea how the Superintendent will direct his staff to react.

Please note, it is not my intention to “intimidate,” “disrupt,” or “threaten” anyone or anything.

I am grateful to Mrs. McCaulley for saying that I have not intimidated her. I also appreciate the communications I received from Mrs. Morrison and Mr. Birney saying the same thing. Mr. Blair chose to state in the press that he had always found me “pleasant and cordial.”

So I’ve got that going for me. 🙂

I have not, however, heard anything at all from my board member Dr. Jennie Robinson. Neither have I heard anything from Dr. Wardynski.

I suppose that when Mr. Lankford said I was “intimidating the board” by recording them, and when Mrs. Anderson stated that I “had been described as intimidating and threatening” (that, by the way, was the first time that I’ve been informed that I was “threatening”) for doing so, that they were talking about how Dr. Robinson and Dr. Wardynski felt. They are, after all the only ones left.

I have asked for any specific documented evidence that I have intimidated, disrupted, or threatened anyone at the district level.

The only response I’ve received from Mrs. McCaulley is:

Again to your inquiry about any written incidents reports concerning you, to my knowledge there are none.

Thus there is, at least to Mrs. McCaulley’s knowledge, no documented evidence that I have done any of the things I’ve been accused of doing.

I have also, not received anything approaching an apology for the district staff’s response to me, but that’s okay. I’m not really sure that it would mean much at this point anyway.

And frankly, I’m certain that they were only following orders.

You see, I don’t actually care what they say about me. And truthfully, I don’t care if they allow me to record the meeting or not.

None of that is important to me.

What is important is that my children receive an appropriate education. I am convinced that cutting Special Education by seven million dollars (or the exact amount of surplus the district is anticipating at the end of the fiscal year) has kept my boy from having an appropriate education. I am convinced that merging my girl’s school without discussing it with parents first will keep my girl from having an appropriate education.

I am convinced that having a demoralized faculty and staff in our schools keeps my children from having an appropriate education.

I am convinced that having people who don’t want to be teachers, teach keeps my children from having an appropriate education.

I am convinced that having a CSFO who can spend $28,790 without documentation keeps my children from having an appropriate education.

I am convinced that having district leadership that attempts to intimidate parents and teachers for asking questions keeps my children from having an appropriate education. When people aren’t allowed to ask questions, education has been replaced by indoctrination.

This is what I’m concerned about. These are a few of the issues that really matter.

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


  1. You do realize that The AP enrollment he is taking credit for occurred because of the A+ college ready grant before he was hired.

    1. While I suspected that might be the case, no I didn’t know that to be true.

      Thanks for the info and for reading.

  2. Russel I say get some people to record the meeting in the event they ask you to leave..theyd look worse if they ask them to leave also.

  3. McCaulley didn’t write that response….sounds like a J R Brooks response to me.

    I am on my way to the Apple store to learn how to video on my ipad.:)

    1. It’s always a good idea to get Apple Geniuses to teach you things. You never know when knowledge might come in handy.


    It appears there has been some HCS legal work/representation in the last year or so.

    ***Was wondering if it was a budgeted item or if services were pro bono

    ***Was wondering if the public is privy to know this type of information

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