Huntsville City Schools leaders researching Pinnacle Schools invoices

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Questions started swirling about The Pinnacle Schools and its contract with Huntsville City Schools to provide services for students with behavioral issues, following the abrupt resignation of former superintendent Casey Wardynski.

This came because of his relationship with Pinnacle CEO Karen Lee, which he then disclosed to the public. A vote that had to do with Pinnacle Schools invoices for a program called APP (Assignment for Positive Progress) was to take place the week he resigned.

That vote didn't happen. Interim Superintendent Tom Drake pulled it from the agenda, saying he needed more time to get caught up to speed.

Then, Drake announced he ended the APP program over which the invoices were requesting payment.

Now, board president Laurie McCaulley says those invoices are under board scrutiny.

"Mr. Drake and the board, we're still reviewing them [the invoices]," she said. "We understand that Pinnacle did provide the services, but right now we're looking at the cost of those services. What was the agreement about them? What's the genesis of it?"

She added, "I can't comment on everything we're looking into, but I want to assure the public that we're doing the due diligence to make sure we're being good stewards of their money."

Pinnacle CEO Karen Lee did not wish to comment about the APP program when WHNT News 19 called Monday.

Meanwhile, starting this week Huntsville City Schools is providing the APP-related services Pinnacle used to, in-house. McCaulley said Drake had allocated additional HCS staff, including counselors and security, to the task to support the students who used the APP program to transition from alternative school back into their high schools.

"We want to make sure the students had all the support they needed to be successful in and out of the classroom," McCaulley explained.

She said the board is still evaluating whether or not to keep those services in-house at Huntsville City Schools, or to re-contract for them.

"We'll look at how feasible it is to do it in-house, or will we ask for a request for proposals to see if someone else can do it," she said.

We expect to learn more about the board's upcoming payments to Pinnacle for the APP program at the next board meeting. Pinnacle still maintains a contract with Huntsville City Schools for alternative school services. That contract expires this upcoming summer.

WHNT News 19 submitted a public records request for the invoices in question and received them late Monday after our story had aired. We are reviewing them and looking into what they reveal.

To view the invoice, click here.