|Caption this in the comment section. Don't hold back|
I must give credit where credit is due, I was outfoxed (pun intended) by the Huntsville School Board of mis-education last Thursday. Expecting a large crowd, I arrived at the meeting early in order to get a seat with the intention of signing up to speak. I falsely assumed since the sign up sheet was not in its usual place it was not part of the required protocol. Regular readers are familiar with the boards new policy requiring citizens comments be written on 3x5 index cards (which were available) and censored/read by the Director of Community Engagement. Little did I know, there was a sign up sheet before there wasn't a sign up sheet, which I'm sure was just a coincidence. :) In the future I will call the board clerk and request my name be added to the list prior to the meeting.
For some reason, the Huntsville City School Board of Education wants the school district released from a court order to desegregate, even though the school district is segregated. The Department of Justice told them not to even think about being released from the federal court order.May 22, 2014: Desegregation hearing begin, Huntsville City Schools vs The United States Department of Justice (links inserted for clarity and emphasis).
The District’s 2007-2008 overall student enrollment was 43.1% black and 48.7% white. However, the majority of the District’s 47 schools were racially identifiable black or white due to the composition of their respective student bodies.
After four months of private teleconferences and motions, after 16 weeks of back-and-forth legal arguments, the Huntsville City Schools will finally face the U.S. Department of Justice in court. In public. In Huntsville.May 22, 2014: Huntsville v United States Day 2
At issue: The racial implications of the rezoning of Huntsville City Schools.
Two days. Seven witness. Numerous citizen comments. The hearing is over. Now it's in the judge's hands.June 30, 2014: U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala cannot find conclusively the board doesn't operate a dual school system (imagine that?), and orders mediation. (Links inserted for emphasis and clarity)
U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala didn't approve the city's plan to redraw school zones.July 2, 2014 Huntsville school board holds a press conference, I mean, special call meeting to discuss pending litigation in the desegregation case.
And she didn't approve the Justice Department's plan.
Instead, she appointed Chief Magistrate Judge John Ott to oversee months of mediation between the two as they examine all aspects of racial disparities across Huntsville City Schools.
She also called for appointment of a Special Master to oversee the court's ongoing fact-finding in the case.
The judge's 107-page ruling, complete with dozens of attachments, questioned whether Huntsville school officials have acted in good faith in recent months and whether the city has done enough over the years to blame inequities on housing patterns.
Though the board room was filled with spectators, no one was allowed to speak since the meeting was a special called one. Citizens will be able to offer their input at the board's July 17 meeting.July 8, 2014: The judge continues to push for transparency.
The federal judge overseeing Huntsville's desegregation dispute continues to favor transparency, and has called a hearing Thursday to let Huntsville argue why test scores and transfer records should not be made public.July 8, 2014: School board vice president Laurie McCaulley announces she will hold a community conversation, I mean workshop, entitled "Using the Green Factors: Visioning Huntsville City Schools in Unitary Status,"on July 12, 2014. (Links inserted for emphasis and clarity)
Lawyers involved will gather before the federal judge at 1 p.m. on Friday for a procedural hearing in Birmingham.
The hearing marks the first step by the court since U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala issued a scathing opinion questioning past and current desegregation efforts in Huntsville City Schools. She ordered the board into six months of mediation with the U.S. Department of Justice.
McCaulley said she is hosting the event to help establish a "template" of the community's wishes for Superintendent Casey Wardynski to refer to during negotiations with the Justice Department.July 9, 2014: A petition is initiated on Change.org asking the Huntsville school board to demand Superintendent Casey Wardynski's resignation.
"Not everything suggested will be implemented, but it's an opportunity for the community to be heard," McCaulley said. "This is a Huntsville City dilemma. I want the citizens of Huntsville to solve it, because they have to live with it."
In light of the blatant disregard Dr. Wardynski has for parents, students and citizens concerning transparency as evident in the comments made by Federal Judge Haikala: "The Court strongly suspects that the district has chosen not to share many of the reasons for the choices that it made as it shaped its student assignment plan."July 11, 2014: Judge orders Huntsville student test scores, transfer data unsealed, accuses board member of hampering with mediation process.
In light of the hostile working environment that Dr. Wardynski has created which has resulted in at least 735 people choosing to leave employment with the district since August 2011;
In light of the declining standards of education that we are seeing in our finest schools as the district transitions to teaching nearly exclusively mathematics and English Language Arts; We the undersigned respectfully request that the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education request the resignation of Dr. Casey Wardynski as superintendent effective immediately.
"The suggestion that a board member would establish a template for mediation is problematic," Haikala said.July 13, 2104: Laurie McCaulley pulls the plug on her workshop in good faith.
The judge went on to say that, in her June 30 opinion, she "took no pleasure" in pointing out inconsistencies between statements that district officials made, either in public or in court, and the official record of events.
"I don't want to have to keep engaging in those exercises," Haikala said. "The board has got to stop engaging in conversations that will hamper the court's efforts in this case."
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat, HCS BOE vice president Laurie McCaulley's decision to cancel her community conversations masquerading as "a community workshop on desegregation", was not done in "good faith", but rather, a firm judge who saw through the ruse and slammed the sham.
July 16, 2014: The Judge sets the ground rules for mediation:
"The parties and the mediator may not disclose information regarding the process, except the terms of settlement, to the court or to third persons unless all parties agree," writes U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala.
That means it could be a while until Huntsville hears anything about what will happen next. In her June 30 order sending Huntsville into mediation, Haikala suggested both sides might reach agreement by the end of the year.
She explains: "Confidentiality is an important part of mediation because it allows parties to work efficiently and to share information with the mediator that may not be admissible in evidence in proceedings before the Court."
July 17, 2014: After promising citizens could comments on the desegregation case at the July 17 work session, citizens weren't allowed to comment on the desegregation case because the judge. RedEye roll
The sale of two empty Huntsville school buildings, an update on the district's Summer Feeding Program and possible citizen input on the ongoing federal desegregation case were anticipated at tonight's school board meeting.Sigh....Here we go again. Mediation hasn't even started and the usual suspects are up to their old tricks. People need to be heard, but this can't be done without the usual critics, and it's not like citizens can go to any school board meeting and expect to be heard, I mean, listened to.
It is not clear how much, if any, discussion can take place on the desegregation issue, however, after the federal judge overseeing the case earlier this week ordered confidentiality in the mediation process.
Why the judge expects this superintendent, and this board, to behave any differently is a mystery to me. Giving them the cloak of confidentiality plays right into the hands of the retired military colonel, turned instructional leader, whose mission it is to maintain the status quo by what ever means necessary. (Links inserted for emphasis).
Casey you have to break the mold and prove you're not afraid of minorities, democrats, liberals, aclu (sic) types and the entire entitlement crowd! Do that, and you'll be doing the job you were hired to do! Oh yeah, not to mention striking down all racial transfers. And that includes allowing not allowing whites to racially transfer either. If you don't like where your child goes to school, move to where they can be zoned into a school of your preference, that's what I had to do!
Even If We Win, We Lose
So after months and possibly years of litigation over the rezoning plan, what have we won?Good luck with that mediation thingy.
The district will still be under the control of the DoJ except now the plan that the DoJ believed would best bring us unification has been rejected.
The DoJ still controls our destiny. Does fighting their plan (even assuming we’ve seen their plan) bring us closer to unification?
Nope. It doesn’t.
The Wardynski Plan is a fool’s errand. We did not have to file it. And the public has had zero input into the plan.
So, after potentially years of litigation and expense, we will have accomplished absolutely nothing, even if we win.
Nothing except the following:
This is, in the Bard’s wise words, much ado about nothing.
- Wardynski has shored up support for himself in this town because he’s willing to fight the “evil” federal government.
- Wardynski has improved his name recognition on a national level.
- Wardynski has spent a ton of the district’s money that he should be spending on improving education at all of our schools. And of course,
- We’re still a segregated system.