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CJ’s Speech To The Board
If you missed Cj’s speech to the Huntsville Board of Education live through the website, here is the written version. He did ad lib a few extra points, which is why his time ran out and didn’t get to read the last few paragraphs. But, he still got applause and board members and citizens approached him apologies for his treatment.
Mr. President, members of the board, Superintendent Moore, I come before the board today to bring your attention to a gross injustice being committed in your schools. My name is CJ Grisham and I used to have three kids in the Huntsville City Schools district.
You are already aware of how this began over a simple uniform dispute as other parents have addressed this body before on my behalf and theirs. I went to the next PTA meeting with a camera to protect myself as a result of my treatment following that first meeting. Unfortunately, it turned out that I needed that video because once again the Williams Middle School, Principal Avis Williams, began calling the Army and slandering my name.
A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with the Superintendent and a few other parents. During that meeting, I explained that the principal was calling my employer and asked if that was common practice. She assured me it was not and that she would speak with the principal and let her know that the only person that is to contact the Army about a parent would be her. Well, either she didnâ€™t tell the principal this important rule or the principal simply ignored her. Since this meeting, the principal has called my place of employment twice with baseless accusations.
The environment at Williams Middle School and within Huntsville City Schools was so untenable and intimidating that my wife and I sought to have our kids transferred out of the district. When that wasnâ€™t possible we made the decision to protect our kids â€“ all of whom were straight A students before this issue happened and had NEVER had any disciplinary issues â€“ by sending them to live with their grandparents. We spent over $1,400 to remove them from a school that doesnâ€™t respect its students or their parents. This was not a decision we made lightly and it has resulted in our family being separated until complete our next military move in a few short weeks; a move that was pushed up more than five months solely because of our treatment by this school system. When we took our grievances to the administration, we were assured that steps would be taken to de-escalate the problems, but they only got worse.
Because of these false allegations against me by the principal and/or the PTA president, Angela Thomas, I have been threatened with a General Letter of Reprimand by the military. As a senior non-commissioned officer in the Army, this would be a career killer for me. In 15 years of honorable military service, I have never had these problems. Even in my time here in Huntsville, I have never had problems with school officials until this principal came in. I have gone through great lengths and contributed a great deal of money in support of this school. As a part-time DJ, I have donated my services to the schools free of charge. I have raised thousands of dollars for JROTC cadets. My wife volunteers weekly at the school, assisting the teachers. I have never had so much as a negative counseling against me since I was Private. Everything Iâ€™ve done with respect to my military service has been honorable and just. And because of the baseless accusations of ONE principal, my career is being trashed. My career is being trashed because I dared to disagree with a policy. I dared to question the principal. I was never disrespectful, but I was greatly disrespected. I tried to resolve my dispute through the school system while the principal tried to resolve it through the Army.
At a recent PTA meeting, the one in which I brought my camera, I was refused an opportunity to present a motion by the principal herself. She completely violated protocol and rules of order. I was refused an opportunity to intelligently and professionally discuss a policy that was quite controversial to many people. In fact, none of the parents were allowed to discuss it. The principal violated protocol and censored anyone that didnâ€™t agree with her. She created a hostile environment by surrounding the PTA meeting with six security officials and a uniformed police officer, something that Iâ€™ve NEVER seen at a PTA meeting in the past. They even tried to get the police to search me as I entered, a violation of my 4th Amendment rights. At the end of the meeting, one of these security guards assaulted my wife and the principal has refused to give us his name. To this date, school officials, to include the Superintendent, have refused to grant me the name of the public school security official that violently grabbed my 5â€™2â€ wife and dragged her across a hallway.
Is this common practice within Huntsville City Schools to call parentsâ€™ employers when there is a disagreement with a policy? If I worked for the railroad, would she be calling my boss there? Is it common practice to manhandle them at a public meeting and stand in their face during discussion about a controversial policy? Is it common policy for principals to ignore meeting protocol and take over PTA meetings when there is disagreement? Is it encouraged for superintendents to not follow up on promises made to parents or for principals to ignore the superintendent without consequence?
I am not the only parent that is having issues with the principal or teachers at Williams Middle School. Yet, I am the only parent whose employer has been contacted. I have been very open every step of the way and attempted to resolve these disputes within school channels. However, I have continued to be ignored and treated with contempt and disrespect.
I no longer have a child in Huntsville City Schools. I will never have another child in Huntsville City Schools. I will never encourage another family to place their kids in these schools. I could not care less about uniform policies any longer. However, I do care about my good name being smeared in a coordinated effort by one of your principals and my concerns being ignored by your superintendent.
I am here tonight no longer as a parent, but as a citizen. I want the board to know what the actions of this one principal have done to my family. We are now separated from our children by hundreds of miles at a time when I value every day with them that I am not deployed. I canâ€™t in good conscience allow them to stay in this school under these circumstances.
Thank you for your time.