Huntsville Board of Education appoints Tom Drake interim superintendent


Tom Drake, longtime Grissom High School principal and educator in Huntsville City Schools, has been named interim superintendent following Dr. Casey Wardynski’s resignation earlier this week. (WHNT News 19 file)

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - After the sudden resignation Wednesday of Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski, the school board has appointed an interim superintendent to oversee the system until a permanent superintendent is named.

Tom Drake, former principal at Grissom, Johnson, and many other Huntsville city schools, will serve in the role.  Board member Walker McGinnis nominated him. It was a unanimous vote. When the board accepted Wardynski's resignation, the only dissenting vote was Mike Culbreath, who said he voted "nay" as his way of stating his disappointment that Wardynski resigned with such short notice. Culbreath told WHNT News 19 he wanted Wardynski "to finish what he started."

Drake said he's excited and honored to be interim superintendent.

"I'm excited," he said, noting he's a little nervous too. "I want to give back to the school system. They've been so good to me over the years. I had a great career, a phenomenal career with this school system. And for them to be able to reach out to me, it meant a lot. I had to think about it, and I had to ask my wife though," he chuckled.

Drake said he plans to continue where Wardynski led the school system.

"I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Wardynski and the effort that he has given to this school system, for his integrity, his vision," he said.

Drake will not be eligible to apply for the permanent position.  The school board will now begin the search for a new superintendent and that begins with finding a firm to aid in the search.

Outgoing board president Laurie McCaulley said the incoming board will hire the next superintendent.

"I've already extended the invitation to Ms. Watkins and Ms. Hill so when the presentation [of search firms] is given, they'll be present," she said.

Drake said his career began in the Merts building in 1966 and he's noticed the irony that he ends it as interim superintendent in the same place.