Huntsville City Schools implements new procedures to address district’s recent behavioral problems

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski announced new procedures Saturday to address the district's recent behavioral problems.

In a 10-minute video announcement issued by the school system, Dr. Wardynski said the system will now monitor a student's social media accounts, if the student has a history of disciplinary issues.

"If the superintendent determines that a student's social media posts reasonably constitute a serious threat of physical violence to students or employees, the superintendent may initiate such disciplinary action as he deems necessary to alleviate such a threat," he said. "If the superintendent determines that a student has made posts to social media indicating either that a student or another student's propensity towards violence or gang affiliation, the superintendent may also refer such student to any applicable school-based district level student support."

Several, high-profile incidents have occurred throughout the district within the last month causing both parents and students to reach out to WHNT News 19 to take action. We took those concerns directly to the superintendent at the district's February 4 school board meeting.

You can read more about that one-on-one interview here.

"There’s been a set of incidents recently that reinforced our concern with the degree to which we could predict acts against our schools or acts against the safety of our students, if we had been paying attention," Wardynski said Saturday.

In the announcement, Wardynski referenced the recent fights at Grissom High School as one of the reasons for the new policy. He says the fight was planned in advance on social media.

"In this day and age of rapid communication, while it’s easier for us to also reach out and touch citizens, it’s easier for ne’re-do-wells to reach out and touch each other and concoct plans that pose a threat to our schools," he said. "We need to be aware of all that. This procedure’s designed to address that."

Wardynski says the district will also limit student registration to centralized locations, instead of each individual school throughout the district. This move is to allow the school system more time to adequately research a student's behavioral background.

"It can be both for information and registration, but that will allow us to do a much better job of intercepting students who we need to know about, who shouldn’t be coming back to school because they should have been expelled, students coming from districts outside our state, who may be coming from similar situations," he said.

Two of the students involved in one of the Grissom fights have been expelled, even though, Wardynski says they withdrew from the district before the punishment was issued. He says other school districts should implement the same procedures.

"We do expel students who withdraw," he said. "Other school systems should do the same, so they don’t send us their problems and we’re not aware of it."