Madison County Commission drawn into county schools debatePublished 8:54am Friday, March 14, 2014
By Charles Molineaux
“In all my 50 years of professional and public life, I have never met such a public display of arrogance by a public official,” said Harrison in a speech that criticized the city’s school board, and Superintendent Casey Wardynski in particular.
“There is no excuse for a public or elected official to disregard and put all professional ethics aside.”
Harrison accused Wardynski and the school board of excluding community representatives from discussions of its student assignment plans and called on Madison County commissioners to request a meeting with school leaders.
Commission chairman Dale Strong said he expected there will be more dialogue. No other commission members responded to Harrisons comments.
The school system has held six community meetings at area schools soliciting input from the public. During those events, school officials met face to face with any individuals and groups who attended.
But in his remarks, Harrison said “the behavior of this school board and superintendent in all that has been done is unforgivable in my opinion and inexcusable.”
In a written reply, Blair called Harrison’s remarks a “vicious attack” and completely “inappropriate and untrue.” Blair pointed out that he and other school officials had indeed agreed to meet with Harrison, Madison County NAACP President Alice Samms, State Representative Laura Hall and others.
School districting plans remain under a federal court desegregation order. Any changes must be approved by the court. The current plan was submitted to the court after months of talks with lawyers from the U.S. Justice department.
“Harrison must not understand how a federal lawsuit works,” Blair said in his statement. “The lawyers for the plaintiff and defendants meet for negotiations. Negotiations do not happen in public.”
In his remarks, Harrison warned of damage to Madison County’s image.
“We are under the national spotlight,” he said. “Somebody just might get the wrong understanding of where we are.”
Charles Molineaux is an anchor and investigative reporter with WAFF 48 News.