Updated: David Blair Responds to Commissioner’s Claims Against Huntsville School Board, Superintendent

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – School Board President David Blair has officially responded to a verbal attack levied by a Madison County Commissioner.

At Wednesday’s Madison County Commission meeting, District 6 Commissioner Bob Harrison said he and other local leaders have been ‘disrespected’ by Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski.

Harrison characterized the superintendent as excluding the community and elected officials on the rezoning debate.

“I don’t believe in my 50-plus years have I seen such a display of arrogance, deception, deceit, such that when we talk about being together as a community, it defies everything that we are supposed to be about,” Harrison began.

Harrison also charged school board members had “lied in public, recorded meetings,” alleging that Harrison participated in the committee formed to rename Johnson High School.

“It was a misrepresentation of fact and profoundly disingenuous,” Harrison said of assertions that he had formerly made recommendations to change the school’s name.

Harrison said when a fellow elected official from his area requested information about qualifications of Teach For America students, predominately located in his district, she was told the information was thrown in the trash can because she failed to show up to a town hall meeting.

“And was then verbally attacked by this superintendent for disappointing persons who were at that meeting,” Harrison said.

Huntsville Councilman Richard Showers, a handful of clergymen from Harrison’s district and some Johnson High School Alumni representatives were at the Commission meeting Wednesday to show their support for Harrison’s statements.

“I have supported our school system, but today I am saddened,” Showers said, “that as a city representative that we are put in positions to be made to feel like we have no voice.”

Harrison went on to say Dr. Wardynski has had a “total and complete disregard” for professional ethics during the ongoing rezoning battle with the Department of Justice and the Huntsville City School Board.

“Especially in this instance,” Harrison said, “to win an unworthy goal of maintaining a racially separated school system at any cost.”

Harrison recalled the superintendent declined a request to meet with him on the rezoning plan by saying he had his chance to raise questions at one of the six town hall meetings held in February.

“This individual states that if any state, county or local official wants to meet or receive information from him that they should have run for school board because the Huntsville City School Board is the only entity he is obligated to answer to,” said Harrison.

Harrison said he wants the commission to seek a meeting with the school board and superintendent for an explanation of their decisions. Beyond that, he called for the public to continue to voice their concerns in any way possible.

“There’s got to be some community outrage. There has to be some public dissent as it was in the 1960s for a rising tide of individuals who are free-thinking – for people who realize what their creator meant, that all of us are God’s children,” said Harrison.

Huntsville City School Board President David Blair released this statement in response to Harrison:

“Commissioner Harrison’s comments calling the school board and superintendent ‘liars and practicing deception’ is completely inappropriate and untrue.  Let me be very clear, this school board and superintendent are focused on doing what is best for our students and our community.  I remind Mr Harrison that he supported the previous administration who allowed our school system to go $20 million in debt and put us on the brink of a state takeover. This same administration accepted poor performing schools as the norm. In fact Mr. Harrison protested to retain the previous superintendent.

Mr. Harrison seems to have forgotten the fact that he met, at his invitation, with City School Board member Topper Birney and me, along with Councilman Richard Showers, State Representative Laura Hall, Madison County NAACP President Alice Sams and others. We were met with the same disrespect as was demonstrated by Mr. Harrison’s comments today in the County Commission meeting.

Mr. Harrison also made comments concerning the desegregation lawsuit.  Mr. Harrison must not understand how a federal lawsuit works; the lawyers for the plaintiff and defendants meet for negotiations.  Negotiations do not happen in public.  There are over 30 elected officials that represent our community and only Harrison, Hall and Showers demanded a ‘seat at the table’. There are clear delineations in government. Mr Harrison is not qualified to speak on running a school system. The School Board does not tell the Commissioner how to pick up garbage, pave roads, or name public buildings.  It seems to me that Mr. Harrison needs to concentrate on important issues in his district like keeping neighborhoods safe, working on economic development and quality housing.

In just a little over two years this school board and the superintendent have corrected the financials of the schools and retain $20 million in reserve. Our high performing schools are moving forward and the struggling schools are now surpassing state benchmarks.  We have had unprecedented success, the most in our city’s history. Perhaps Mr. Harrison should quit grandstanding and instead put our children first.”

28 comments

    • Jim

      Your statement speaks very clearly…………”behave”? Can you do no better? Keep quiet among your betters.

  • Cotton Fields

    LEts keep the zones as they are so we can get more government money since the schools will be brought down with lower scores as a result allowing the force integration of blacks into the schools.

  • Keith Wilkerson

    Education begins at the home and also ends there. Is this so difficult to understand? It doesn’t matter where your kids go to school. It is not the responsibility of the government to educate your kids. It is your responsibility, even if you have to do it alone, by candlelight, out in the back yard.

  • Wes

    Once again it’s obvious some people that have been stuck in the past with failed policies and old ideas are now crying fowl because Dr Wardynsky has come in, cleaned house and created a surplus instead of a deficit, improved learning skills and made Huntsville a place you would want to move to because of the education system. Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone, Mr Harrison is acting like a spoiled child that didn’t get his way. He wants the superintendant to jump when he says jump because he’s been here 50 years. Heaven forbid disagree with Mr Harrison. It’s very unprofessional to fight your battles in the media, it shows you just wat attention on yourself. Sorry, big egos don’t cut it anymore, time to retire.

  • Sparked

    He is getting and brand new school and then in about another year another school. What else does he want? The DOJ objections consisted of that there were no AP classes and that was because no one attended them when they had them. Is he going to pay for the extra buses too use too bus
    kids from north Huntsville back and forth to the south. It’s time for him to step down.

  • Evelyn

    I believe Dr. Wardynski has done an excellent job so far. Mr. Harrison should not use “professional ethics” in his remarks when he uses his public office for personal gain.

  • Mike

    Bob Harrison should stick to being corrupt by getting his son out of a DUI arrest, that’s all he is good at. Oh and Bob stay out of city business, you’re a County Commissioner. We have a city school district that doesn’t have to answer to your race baiting. Dr. Wardynski has done a phenomenal job of putting our schools back in good financial straights. The last Superintendent was corrupt just like you are Bob!

  • Just a citizen

    You know something? The man is absolutely correct in his accusations. As a white who lives in northwest Huntsville, I KNOW why the Justice Department is still involved in the zoning for Huntsville City Schools. Anyone with eyes knows why the “projects” behind Huntsville Hospital were torn down after the new Huntsville High School was built. They did it to “whiten” up the new school. What did the city officials do? They gave a speech about how no area of Huntsville would be without public housing – and they claimed diversity in the media. What they actually did was move the white families in public housing to an apartment complex on the south end, but on the north end any open field of land they could find had more public housing built on it and that is where they moved the black families. They further segregated Huntsville City Schools when they did that because they made Huntsville High “whiter” and Johnson High “blacker”. The Justice Department will eventually realize they are fighting a losing battle because the Huntsville Mafia is full of “old money” and it’s done THEIR way around here in this overgrown-country-shady-back-room deal-kind-of-town. What the school board can’t do because of the Justice Department, the City of Huntsville will do for them and they will keep the schools segregated as they have always been. Look what happened in northwest Huntsville several decades back when they started the forced busing of the white kids from Highlands and Montview to Calvary Hill, and the busing of the black children from Calvary Hill to those white elementary schools. You had what is called “white flight” from the area. All the white families left the area and tried selling their homes and any increasing equity for that area dried up because of the situation. Those homes have not increased in value at all in over 30 or 40 years. Because the bottom fell out of the housing market in that area with “white flight”, lower income families took advantage of the opportunity to buy a home in what had been considered an excellent neighborhood, not realizing it was a “has-been” neighborhood and the deterioration was progressing at such a fast pace, the neighborhood would never recover. Numerous homeowners that couldn’t sell their homes because of the market being flooded opted to rent, which further degraded the neighborhood. The Justice Department needs to realize that while the Huntsville City School Board hasn’t helped matters any (and the administration in there now is on board with the Huntsville Mafia), it is the City of Huntsville’s leaders that have allowed the segregation of Huntsville to continue. They promote it with their actions. Have you ever seen someone with an edger and a leaf blower doing lawn maintenance in north Huntsville like they do in Jones Valley? No – you haven’t, and you won’t. Have you ever seen them sweeping up the little bit of trash on the cubs in neighborhoods in north Huntsville like they do in Twickenham? No – you haven’t, and you won’t. All the city wants from the north end is for the residents to spend tax dollars and shut up – and then they spend those tax dollars taking care of every other area of Huntsville. If you don’t believe me – drive the roads and see for yourself. I’ll bet Tommy Battle needs GPS to find his way to northwest Huntsville. He claimed when running for mayor that ALL areas of Huntsville needed to be treated equally, but he obviously trained by wearing Loretta Spencer’s shoes.

    • Mike

      The reason there is white flight is because nobody wants to live in a black neighborhood where there is increased crime. It’s a proven fact that of the ten most violent cities in the United States 8 out of 10 are majority black. The other two have a large black and Hispanic population with whites as the minority. When you have over 70% of black children born to unwed mothers you will never see an improvement. It’s hard to educate children that do not have stable homes. The black community is destroying itself, nobody else. Democrats have single handedly brought down the black family with there welfare programs.

  • Just a citizen

    I agree with you on that, Mike. If the parent or parents don’t emphasize the educational process as well as setting and achieving goals, nothing will improve. Sadly, I think those are not priorities for too many black families. I didn’t allow my children to attend public schools in northwest Huntsville – they attended private schools. I was stuck in the rut of not being able to sell the house because of a realtor not being honest with us about what was happening in the day and time that we purchased our home. Had I known then what I knew about 6 years after the fact, I would never have bought that home. I see it all the time where small school-aged children are in the home and they’re up all hours of the night, playing loud music, partying away. The kids either sleep through school or they don’t go to school at all because the hung-over parent is laid up in bed come 8 o’clock. It isn’t all of the black families, but it is the majority. I heard on the news the other day that 70+ percent of black children in Alabama are born illegitimate and on government assistance with no father figure around. That right there drastically increases the chances of continued poverty. Few choose to break the chain that binds them. They don’t realize they still live a life of slavery with the chains attached, but it is of their own choosing with how they opt to be a slave to our government regulations for the sake of getting welfare.

  • Just a citizen

    However, in all honesty, the city officials do not help matters at all for the citizens in northwest Huntsville who do care and try. They keep the city divided and that is wrong. The only way the schools will ever be desegregated is to force busing again. Anyone that lives here knows that. Then again, you will face “white flight” again. You can force a student to attend a certain school based on where their address is, but you can’t force the parents to stay there or not exercise other options. Honestly, what a waste of money for something that will never change. This lawsuit with the Justice Department started in the 1970’s and continues today. How much money has been wasted with no real changes?

  • Huntsville Citizen

    Has anyone had the thought that there is a reason that patrons pay more for a specific school zone? The issue is… if you have two children (one who is white and one who is a minority) both attending a poorly performing school and the wish is to move them to the better performing school, why is it that the minority child would be allowed to attend the new school but not the white student. Is it because their families didn’t have the opportunities in life to make themselves better? Is it because they are a more disadvantaged student? The fact is.. there are classes in America. Either you work your way up or deal with what you have. It is not my responsibility to try to educate the underprivileged children. It is my responsibility to my child; however, to provide them the best learning environment possible which is apart from teaching to the bottom performer and to be surrounded by their peers both now and in the future.

  • Carolyn Harris

    Wardenski is a very rude and disrespectful man. He does not have our childrens best intrest at heart. He does not believe in playing by the rules. He is very arrogant. He seemed to do good for huntsville in the beginning but now its clear it wasnt worth it. He made so many promises about helping butler and he did nothing, he denied transfers and lied to parents he did nothing for butler. My child didnt even have a math teacher for the first 5 weeks. Teachers are scared to complain or ask for assistance. Wardenski does not care about any lower income school. He is a horrible selfish man.

  • Jim

    Harrison needs to understand what goverment organizatioin he was elected to represent. He is a county commissioner. This is a City of Huntsville School Board issue not something he has authority over. Reference being a divided city. Well its all about social standing period. You cant legislate social standing. Most people tend to want to live around people that are like them economically. People who can afford to live in a 300K home do not want to live next to public housing or a 80K house. They have nothing in common. They want to live around people like them who earn a comparable living regardless of race or ethnicity. They have more in common. The school board has gone out of its way to provide modern facilities, district wide teacher hiring and placement and many other things that have made the school system better. There are so many programs put in place to help disadvantaged students that more funding are going to help them than the majority who are not disadvantaged but they are doing it anyway. You will never have a 50% mix at all the schools. It will not ever play out that way no matter how things are done. Who wants their kids to be bused all over the place. People move to an area for the community and want their kids to go to school with the kids who live around them not be bused across town to equalize the percentages that are off due to where people live. People will take their kids out of school and put them in private school if you try to force the schools to do that. All I can say is if you live in an area, support your local school, attend PTA meetings, meet with your kids teachers, principals, coaches, etc to form a cohesive community which is reflective of who lives in the area not transplants who only come in the community for school by govt orders…

  • Student

    I have never read such vulgar and prejudice statements toward the African American people in this community. I have lived in Huntsville for 10 years and can say I am ashamed to call these people my leaders in the community. Although, I do not believe it was Harrison’s place to address the issue I am ashamed of the racism and greed bestowed upon this community. Coming from a WHITE honors senior student at a, as the crude comments put it “a black school” or failing school. The “so called leaders” of the school system and this community are making is rude and provocative to Americans of all ethnic groups. The so perfect “white” schools are in fact just as bad maybe worst then the “70%” African American Schools in underdeveloped areas – take it from someone who lives it. The White schools primarily focus less on discipline, I would argue that the there is more violence from “white” schools then “black” schools.
    It is ashamed the school board does not want to promote integration when they teach children through great novels the important of desegregation. All Huntsville City schools require students to read novels that address the same issue our school system is facing with segregating schools. To Kill a Mocking Bird, A lesson Before Dying, A Raisin in the Sun, The Narrative life of Fredrick Douglas, just to name a few. All deal with the same issues of race taught to all children in Huntsville. We are taught that segregation is bad, that it promotes social inequality and social injustice.
    So how can the school board oppose rezoning, because it would mean “white” schools would have to go to predominate African American or failing schools? To me it is ironic that these required novels read about the respected African American communities teach students the lessons and cruelty segregation can display. If the schools are not integrated then isn’t the school board going against their own morals by teaching students segregation is bad. As well as following leaders in this community and government. Is this not setting students, “the future leaders” up for segregation and disrespect towards community and government? Is this the kind of role that should be set for the future? Just a thought.

    • Carolyn Harris

      I completely agree with you all this racial talk is bs. We cant very well teach our children that we are all the same if everytime we turn on the tv we hear white school black school. My little boys school is set to close in a year and my child my 7 year old child asked me if they were xlosing his school because they are a poor school. That is not something a child his age should hear. Where did he hear such nonsence. Come to find out a boy on his t ball team said thats what his mother told him.

  • Carolyn Harris

    Wow I have read the most racist bs on hear. Really I am white amd I want to tell you that my child has plenty of black friends who are very intelligent, who go to school everyday and work hard, and just to clarify I know plenty of white kids that skip school and dont do thier work. Not to mention the fact that my child goes to a predominantly white school and there are atleast 9 girls there pregnant and miraculously they are white wow go figure white kids arent perfect………. white black short tall geuss what it doesnt matter you need to educate them all. One day these kids will be taking care of us and I sure hope that these kids have more compassion then that of the people commenting here today. If not we are all screwed.

  • HSV

    Guessing that since you cannot spell “guess” or “their” correctly, your children do not attend one of the better “predominantly white schools” as you mentioned.

  • Dee

    Somewhere in the midst of these “racially charged” comments everyone seems to have forgotten about the topic at hand which the rezoning. Please try to address this situation without pointing fingers. Crime exists in every race – no matter the crime…..crime is crime – Just as no sin is too big or too small its just sin.

  • jamison jones

    Cotton fields your ignorance and stupidity is really blissful and befuddling! Do you have any sense of history about anything? Do you even know yourself, much less whats going on around you and why you are the way you are?

  • Bill

    A simple question. What did the last School Board Superintendent do for the school system?? It appears that the comments in this forum want to play the RACE card. Mr. Harrison looked like an idiot last night on TV. If he were white, he would have looked like an idiot!!
    City Commisioner’s need to stay in their lanes and control/govern the areas THEY were elected to control or govern( and some of them could do a better job). The folks who came along to support Mr. Harrison should find themselves ashamed to stand up for this man. Furthermore, he didn’t even have the professional courtesy to turn off his cell phone in a meeting chambers!!! Mr. Harrison, you’re 10 minutes are up, and Mr. Wardynski IS the School Board Superintendent!!!!!

  • SEEK THE TRUTH

    Zoning is not JUST the issue. HAS anyone talked to the teachers in the school system? I assure you that they are NOT with the superintendent and school board in their “fake” attempt to get the public to believe that graduation rates and test scores are on the up rise. Teachers are being TOLD by their school leaders to, “just give failing students a 60,” rather than go to the trouble to document parent contacts. You see, Dr. Wardynski and the School Board have taken public and federal money and are committing “fraud.” This is a fact, but teachers are too afraid to speak. In fact, teachers were told this week in a Huntsville City faculty meeting to “stop talking negatively about Huntsville Schools.” They (the system) were beginning to lose too many students to Randolph and other schools (systems) within Huntsville. You think this might be some indication of why the graduation rates have increased? You think this is fraud and a misrepresentation of data? They are “cooking the books” to make it look as if NO CHILD is failing. It would be terrible to show the actual number of students that have failing grades due to the poor implementation of technology. All the superintendent and school board would like the public to hear is how wonderful technology is and how much better the grades are with this”state of the art” implementation. Fact is, they couldn’t even keep the laptops charged the first week of school. Teachers that are veteran teachers are FED UP and are threatening to resign and find jobs elsewhere. They are being told what they can and cannot say in public and they are being told to give all failing students a 60. That can and should be backed up by talking to teachers IF they aren’t afraid to speak out. WHNT should be interviewing the superintendent and school leaders to discover that this is the TRUTH. They should FORCE teachers to admit this fraudulent act that they are being asked to commit. It is a crime and injustice to “just pass” students that indeed are failing. Hunstville City is a mockery with all this talk about being “student centered.” The superintendent is a control freak that has the school board “snowed under” by his deceitful leadership. They have no idea the things he says to teachers and principals. The school board should immediately begin interviewing teachers and demanding that their job security will not be threatened by talking to them or the media and exposing Dr. Wardynski for the true “dictator” that he is. Discover for yourself; begin asking the right questions and see if teachers will not tell you that they are afraid to talk. They are being threatened by him and their principals if they “talk” negatively in public about HCS.

    • Jim

      You are a sensationalist with no basis in facts. “Dictator” — hmmmmm, lets see we have a superintendant who sets standards and expects his employees to tow the line. So if you dont you most likely call him a dictator. So you know they are committing Fraud…hmmm..What is your proof…Sounds like LIBEL to me when you say someone is committing fraud. Well couldnt keep laptops charged the 1st week of school…hmm..thats tragic..Johnny doesnt know to charge his computer, be glad this superintendant delivered these computers to ALL the kids in the school system. ….THE TRUTH…..FORCE….you use big words to try to discredit our superintendant but you need to start attending the public meetings, school board meetings, etc to get your supposed TRUTHS validated..What you will find out is that our superintendant PLANS & EXECUTES those PLANS.. If you plan you will succeed. If you sit around doing nothing as in the past and hope for change to happen you go nowhere.. He has gotten approval to build quite a few new schools in all parts of Huntsville in record time..IF we had the old superintendant it would be 20 yrs or so for 1 maybee two schools to be built or even conssidered.. The man is a mover…He does not wait ….That is what Huntsville has needed and he has cleaned up this broken system and has put it back together and it staring to surge now…
      ..

  • SEEK THE TRUTH

    Talk to teachers. They are being forced to not talk in public, or threatened to lose their jobs. He coerces people to act in a certain manner; precisely his way. Teachers ARE told to give students a “60” and let them “pass.” These are truths; you can believe what you want. Interviews with teachers, with the assurance that they will not be reprimanded for talking, will get to the truth. In all of these comments, NOT ONCE have I heard anyone talking to teachers. There is reason. Data are manipulated to show false positives. Believe what you want, but talk with teachers and seek the truth. If the system is so “cleaned up” then why are nontenured teachers scared to death of reprimands and why are veteran teachers “fed up” and seeking jobs elsewhere?

  • Sam Little

    Thank goodness that our community leaders are speaking up. I agree with “Student”. I am white and my children go to a good elementary school on the North side of Huntsville. The School Board’s plan is not a good plan. Anyone who read it could see that. And, yes, the Superintendent is very disrespectful and closed minded to anyone’s opinion. I have listened to him on the news and anyone who doesn’t agree with him is wrong. I guess one could say that might be bullying. I also agree that the entire School Board should be replaced. I intend to vote for the opponent in my school district. I can only pray the DOJ’s plan will be approved and implemented.

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