By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Under the U.S. Constitution, the schools are supposedly under the direct purview of state government and answer to the local school board, NOT the federal government and under U.S. law, our intelligence agencies like the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and the NSA (National Security Agency) are not supposed to be involved in spying directly on Americans….or getting them expelled from school.
Normally, investigating potential threats to an Alabama school would be the duty of law enforcement agencies like the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to handle.
Despite this, Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski is claiming that 18 months ago some unknown employee at the NSA violated numerous agency protocols and likely a federal law or two to warn them school about a student’s social media messages in which he allegedly admitted wanting to injure a teacher.
According to original reporting by the Huntsville Times’ Challen Stephens, Supt. Wardynski said that based on the tip school officials searched that student’s vehicle, found a knife, and expelled the potential juvenile terrorist. Wardynski said the student was reportedly chatting with persons in Yemen and told them that he wanted to injure a teacher. Since NSA monitors international traffic, especially in a state like Yemen, where known terrorist groups operate, the communications were allegedly intercepted by the NSA.
The Huntsville Times reports that following that incident, Supt. Casey Wardynski then took the initiative to implement and oversee a massive spy apparatus aimed at students in Huntsville’s schools.
An NSA spokeswoman, Vanee Vines, told the Huntsville Times that the phone call to the principal in Alabama is a violation of agency protocols. Vines said, “The National Security Agency has no record that it passed any information to the Huntsville school district, and the description of what supposedly occurred is inconsistent with NSA’s practices…Moreover, NSA does not make recommendations regarding school safety programs.”
Wardynski then took the initiative to direct his employees to systematically monitor the social media communication of students on social media sites. The vigilant district-created program is called SAFe, which stands for “Students Against Fear,” which is run by three school system employees headed by a former FBI agent.
SAFe uses social media to search for warnings of potential violence and signs of gang activity.
At this time there is no word on whether or not Wardynski ever detailed his dealings with the federal spy agency with state officials like State Superintendent Tommy Bice. School board members claim that they knew nothing about SAFe or presumably the ‘secret agent man’ that allegedly does work on the side as the school’s guardian angel. Was this operation run on a “need to know” basis like real intelligence agency operations?
Several students have reportedly been expelled based on the content of their social media postings.
What is probably the most troubling about this is not the revelations about the program, but rather the uncomfortable thought that perhaps we live in a time of gangs, school shooters, violence against women, drugs, etc. that likely makes school systems create their own intelligence bureau somehow justifiable and perhaps even necessary. Do students have a “Right to Privacy” or a “Presumption of Innocence?” Perhaps, sadly the answer is no they do not.