The superintendent of public schools in Huntsville, Ala. totally believes that an employee at the National Security Agency contacted school district officials 18 months ago to warn them about a student’s social media message promising to injure a teacher.
As a result of that alleged phone call, the superintendent, Casey Wardynski, has implemented and overseen a massive spy apparatus aimed at children in Huntsville’s taxpayer-funded public schools, The Huntsville Times reports.
Al Lankford, who works security for the Huntsville school district, swore to a Times reporter that he took the call from an unidentified NSA official.
The NSA is a federal intelligence agency that clandestinely collects and monitors information for purposes of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence.
Lankford said he and his colleagues promptly acted on the hot tip from the NSA — “home to America’s codemakers and codebreakers” — and searched the boy’s vehicle.
“We found a very good size knife and the student was expelled,” Wardynski beamed to the Times.
A spokeswoman for the NSA observed that such a call would have completely violated the agency’s protocols.
“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,” the spokeswoman, Vanee Vines, told the Times.
“Moreover, NSA does not make recommendations regarding school safety programs,” Vines added.
Wardynski insisted that an NSA employee took time out of his day to contact a campus cop in Alabama’s fourth-largest city, though.
“There was a foreign connection,” the superintendent told the Times, explaining that the unnamed student — who came from Yemen — was chatting online with people from Yemen when he said he wanted to hurt a teacher.
Under Wardynski’s leadership, Huntsville school district employees then proceeded to set up a vast apparatus that monitors the social media communication of unsuspecting students on social media sites.
The vigilant district-created program is called SAFe, which stands for “Students Against Fear.”
SAFe searches social media for warnings of potential violence and signs of gang activity.
Internal documents obtained by the Times show that massive program spying on American children has turned up four students posing in Facebook photos with guns. None of those students were on school grounds for the photos (and they may have been 18 and, therefore, legally able to own guns under state law).
The school district also apparently expelled or considered expelling a half dozen students because they flashed gang signs on social media.
In addition, Wardynski bragged that the SAFe program was able to break up a gang called the Wolfpack, which was composed of a group of six (possibly seven) people related through their families.
Internal SAFe documents show that the focus of SAFe is also on threats of suicide.
There are three Huntsville school district officials on the SAFe staff. Two are campus cops. A third is Chris McRae, a consultant who says he was once an FBI agent.
Wardynski has a very impressive background. His meticulously curated LinkedIn profile says that he was a longtime colonel in the U.S. Army, and that he graduated from both the United States Military Academy and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
The superintendent noted to the Times that his school district has been spying rampantly on children “ever since we got that call from the NSA.”
School board members found out about the massive surveillance program last week thanks to calls from a reporter seeking comment.