Chapter 6: Quadro Sinko
1994-1995 THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO WOLFGANG:
Seminole County Public Schools
Project Director/School Principal and
Co-Designer of Project Excel, 1994-1995
March 29 1994 Wolf is noted as being the principal of Excel, “the district’s new alternative high school for disruptive students.” In this role, he brings “US Customs Inspectors” to the school, who in turn bring along drug-sniffing dogs, just like Brian Marcum was working with at this time. [LINK]
Wolfgang Halbig, principal of Excel, the district’s new alternative high school for disruptive students, did the frisking lesson. He’s a former U.S. Customs agent and still works part time at that. The lesson was an eye-opener. Using a student stand-in dressed in typical teen garb and calling on experience as a former assistant high school principal – discipline chief, that is – he proceeded to unload an inventory of illegal objects. The list included three guns, several knives, two sets of brass knuckles, a marijuana pipe, a pager and pack of LSD.
It should be emphasized that only a very small percentage of students bring weapons to the campus; by far a majority of students are law-abiding and attend to learn. What is distressing, though, is that the number of disruptive students grows each year, and the audacity of their conduct worsens.
Halbig, who has been teaching and administrating for 18 years, says the problem grows. ”They are more aggressive, more rude, more disrespectful each year.”
Sept 7 1994: Parks Open Later to Reduce Traffic, Crime – An article in the Orlando Sentinel reports that a park near Wolfgang’s school is opening two hours later now, due to the plague of student crime. [LINK]
After getting dropped off, some students congregated at the park instead of walking straight to school, said school district security director Wolfgang Halbig. Students also have used the park as a parking lot.
Halbig said he was also concerned about students being targets for drug-dealing and other crimes.
”They’re a captive audience,” he said.
December 4, 1994: Teachers May Get Rap Sheets On Serious Offenders
Wolfgang Halbig, security director for Seminole schools, said teachers deserve to know what they are up against. But he also hopes the information is not used to label students as doomed for trouble. Some can be saved if they are identified and property handled, he said.
”You need to look at the whole child,” Halbig said. ”The first time he ran into trouble. His reading score. The family situation. Don’t let a felony determine who the kid is.”
1995-1999 THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO WOLFGANG:
Seminole County Public Schools
Director of Safety and Security, 1995-1999
May 7, 1995: Some Swear By Device, Others Scoff – This is is the first instance investigators have found and confirmed where Halbig is associated with a truly unbelievable product often called the Quadro Tracker. This fantasy technology promises to be able to locate any item – including illicit drugs, explosives, and firearms – in a given physical space. Even at this early stage, it is noted that many are very skeptical about the device’s legitimacy, but Wolfgang Halbig in unequivocally enthusiastic about the potential for this invention to improve his standing as security director for Seminole County schools. [LINK]
As fiercely as some believe the gadget is nothing more than a modern-day divining rod, some who have practiced taking smooth steps with the device in hand – taking care not to disturb the magnetic field that surrounds their body – are believers.
Wolfgang Halbig, security director for the Seminole County school district, said he wants to buy at least one tracker for each of the district’s 50 schools, to rid them of drugs and guns.
”We are going to purchase it, I want you to know that,” he said. Halbig said he learned of the tracker when Quadro’s distributors asked him to test the device and give an honest opinion.
Halbig said other people who were contacted by Quadro’s representatives scoffed openly at the device, but he is adamant that it will ”slow down kids bringing drugs to school.”
May 14 1995: Quadro Tracker letter to the editor is published, expressing concern over Halbig’s intent to buy these sham products:
REGARDING ”SOME swear by device, others scoff” in the May 7 Seminole Extra, Seminole County school security director Wolfgang Halbig wants to buy 50 ”drug-sniffing” electronic Quadro Trackers. My calculations say he would spend at least $19,750 of Seminole County taxpayers’ money for a device that the maker is afraid to patent and that uses ”voodoo” to find contraband with a method the maker can’t clearly explain. The U.S. Customs Service even tested it: The Quadro Tracker doesn’t work.
Mr. Halbig: Don’t buy the Quadro Tracker and engage in fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer money. If you want to find drugs in the schools, use dogs.
Question #8 Wolfgang Halbig MUST answer: Why didn’t you know the Quadro Tracker was a fraud, since the U.S. Customs Service knew that, and you frequently tout your experience working for U.S. Customs? Why are you trying to sell a phoney bomb detector to the school you work at? What if there really was a bomb?
May 14, 1995: Another letter mocking Wolfgang for believing the Quadro Tracker is published. The author of the letter, identified as Clarence R. Keller, displays an extremely low opinion of Halbig’s judgment. [LINK]
And How About A Good Deal On A Bridge In Brooklyn?
OPINION – Letters to the Editor
May 14, 1995
QUICK, HOW can I get in touch with Wolfgang Halbig, security director for the Seminole County school district? He wants to buy 50 ”magic” drug-tracking devices to use in district schools at a cost approaching $50,000.
Tell him I’ve got a digitalized divining rod that’s guaranteed to find buried gold deposits under school properties. But he’s got to act fast. At the introductory price of $500 per, they’re selling like hotcakes! Quick! Get me in touch with this guy!
1995 – (current) THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO WOLFGANG:
National School and Workplace Safety Consultant
Expert Witness, Risk Assessments, 1995 – current
July 9, 1995: Principals Question Method Used To Report Misbehavior – Wolfgang is interviewed for an article about the rise in violence at a school in his district, during his tenure. In it, he tries to argue that all of the other schools are lying about their stats and he just looks bad for being honest. However, he ultimately concedes that the school he is responsible for securing is plagued by seemingly endless violence. [LINK]
Wolfgang Halbig, the school district’s director of security, agrees that the statistics don’t seem complete. ”You have to ask, are all other schools putting in all their data? I know they’re not.”
Still, Halbig said, ”When you have a school that has 300 fights, you need to look at what’s causing these fights and what we can to do resolve it. That’s a lot of fights.”
August 7, 1995: Report Targets School Crime – Article reports that Halbig is still resisting the statistical proof that his school is a dangerous place, while at the same time claiming to be implementing measures to curb the bloodshed. Halbig also notes that a system of audio monitoring is already in effect. [LINK]
Teachers will be offered new training on aggressive behavior management, such as how to break up a fight and how to handle an assault.
”We hear that it’s more and more difficult, and there are more and more incidents that arise,” Parker said. As state law requires, teachers and principals will now be alerted to any students involved in the juvenile justice system.
– More security equipment will be installed. Audio detection devices, which pick up voices and other sounds during a break-in, are already in county high schools, Halbig said.
August 20 1995 – In Schools, Cost Of Crime Also Measured In Dollars – An article about the expensive security system Wolfgang has purchased for the school, and how ineffective it is. [LINK]
In addition, says Wolfgang Halbig, chief of school security, there are burglar alarms, video cameras, detection devices and fenced campuses, all to guard against theft and mayhem in the schools.
Mr. Halbig says the money being spent is all school money, money that can’t be spent for teachers, books, supplies, more classrooms. Even so, many thousands of dollars in property is stolen or vandalized each year.
October 15 1995: “Discipline, Violence Worry Local Schools” – An article about the completely unrestrained growth of criminal gangs in the schools under Wolfgang’s “protection.” Wolfgang defends his actions by pointing out that he successfully purchased a great deal of expensive equipment and hired more private contractors. He then openly wonders why everyone in the school’s administration hates him. Then he tries to sell them more products. It should be noted that one of the programs he champions is the “Save a Friend hotline” set up to receive tips, not unlike the November 5, 1992 stun gun tip. [LINK]
”I don’t think we have a huge gang problem,” Gorman said. ”But this shows if we’re not vigilant, if we don’t quash it, this is what could happen on a widespread basis.”
Security director Wolfgang Halbig cites a number of successes under his tenure, including the addition of new security officers at schools and the installation of more sophisticated security equipment.
But he has encountered some frustrations as well, including a cool reception from several school administrators.
”Some have supported me,” Halbig said. ”Some have no support. They tell me I’m being overzealous or overreacting. There are some campuses where I feel uncomfortable because I don’t feel welcome.”
And he said schools have been slower than he would like to promote such programs as ”Save a Friend,” a hot line that allows students to anonymously report weapons or other threats to safety.
Superintendent Paul Hagerty praised Halbig’s efforts to increase safety consciousness. ”He’s made a lot of progress. He has a lot of good ideas and he’s impatient. That’s healthy,” Hagerty said.
November 6, 1995 – Halbig is listed as an administrative contact on a hiring contract for a DARE officer.
January 24, 1996: District To Hear Students’ Views On Violence – Students attending Seminole County schools, which Halbig is the security director of, organize a forum to discuss the ongoing and dangerous problem of violence in Seminole County schools. [LINK]
SANFORD — Seminole County students will get their say today on violence in schools.
About 40 high school students have been invited to a closed forum at school district offices in Sanford, sponsored by the district and the county’s chambers of commerce.
The purpose is to hear students’ suggestions for coping with violence and school safety issues, said Wolfgang Halbig, director of security for Seminole schools.
A cross-section of students have been invited, Halbig said. ”These are kids who are respected by their peers,” he said. ”We’ll ask them, ‘What do you see? What do you hear? What is happening? What can we do to help?’ ”
January 25 1996: Drug, Weapon Tracker Yanked Off The Market – An article in the Orlando Sentinel describes how the “Quadro Tracker” has already been taken off the market as an obvious fraud. [LINK]
The ideomotor effect is the user’s unconscious tendency to move the device, he says, just like using a Ouija board. The device appears to be working on its own, when in fact, the human is doing the work.
Randi of Fort Lauderdale said he and Seminole County school security director Wolfgang Halbig tested the device, and it worked only when Halbig knew where the hidden substance was.
When Halbig had no idea where the substance was hidden, nine times out of 10 the device pointed the wrong way, Randi said.
Halbig, who originally was an enthusiastic fan of the device, said schools everywhere are so eager to stop the flow of drugs and guns that the tracker seemed a godsend.
”It shows you how desperate we are,” he said. ”When someone tells you they’ve got this magic, it gets your attention. I’m just so glad we didn’t buy it.”
February 4 1996: Hollywood Halbig – More attention is showered on Halbig, who is potentially to appear on an upcoming broadcast of the news magazine show Dateline NBC. The adulation is despite the fact that Halbig is scheduled to appear as an advocate for a fraudulent technology, this being the premise for the entire segment. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1996-02-04/news/9602011669_1_seminole-halbig-dateline
Wolfgang Halbig, director of security for Seminole schools, may appear in an upcoming broadcast of Dateline NBC.
The news magazine interviewed Halbig last year about a dubious hand-held device that is supposed to detect hidden drugs and weapons. He’s been told the show will air later this month.
Halbig told Dateline he considered buying the $1,000 device, made by the Quadro Corp., until independent tests proved it was not reliable. Since then the FBI has called the device a fraud.
A memorable exchange that may not make the NBC show:
Reporter: ”If you could convince the kids you had some kind of psychic power, could you walk down this hall with a stick and do the same thing (as the tracker)?”
Halbig: ”I don’t think I can convince them I have psychic powers.”
February 13, 1996: Sales Of Drug Detector Sidetracked – The Quadro Tracker is reported to come under increased scrutiny, placing one Wolfgang Halbig under uncomfortable scrutiny. [LINK]
The Quadro Tracker is a magic wand to some, mysteriously directing its handlers to hidden drugs and weapons. But to the FBI, it’s nothing more than hocus-pocus.
”They really hooked us,” Halbig said. ‘‘I mean, here’s a police chief telling us this device is 100 percent accurate. I really thought we had something that could act as a deterrent.
”We were looking for magic,” Halbig said. ‘‘It shows how desperate we are to find something that will make a difference in our schools.’
March 24 1996: Students are Talking – Seminole County’s forum (see January 26, 1996) to address “coping with violence and school safety issues” appears not to have resolved the lingering anxiety on Wolfgang’s campus, as students publicly decry the lack of safety at their schools. [LINK]
Three actions on the part of safety officers are reported by young people to be troubling:
- Students are victims of unfair stereotypes by adults.
- Principals are too busy to listen to students.
- Administrators follow students around without cause; especially students of color.
Lake Mary High School’s newspaper, The Rampage, quoted one participant as saying school district security Wolfgang Halbig ”blew up” when the issue arose. ”Director Halbig totally lost his composure over this,” the student told the newspaper.
Halbig said last week he may have raised his voice but that he did not lose his temper.
”Teachers are losing their lives. Kids are losing their lives, and these kids are worried about being treated with respect,” Halbig said. ”They should be treated with respect, but my point was, they need to take responsibility for what is going on on campuses.”
April 22, 1996 – Federal indictment against marketers of Quadro Tracker.
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v.QUADRO CORPORATION, Wade L. Quattlebaum, Raymond L. Fisk, Malcom S. Roe, Defendants. Civil Action No. 1:96CV38.
October 14, 1996: Report from the Front Line: The Drug Battle in Central Florida
A congressional session is held regarding the drug war in Florida, including Halbig’s district. Hablig attends, and testifies that the headsets that children wear are particularly fortuitous avenues for smuggling contraband.
HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY, INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE OF THE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION OCTOBER 14, 1996
October 15 1996: ‘Drastic Solutions’ On Drugs Called For
Educators, such as Wolfgang Halbig of Seminole County and Margie LaBarge of Orange County, threw some of the responsibility back in the lap of Congress. Federal law prohibits teachers in schools receiving federal drug education dollars from telling parents if their children have drug and alcohol problems, they said.
November 1996: Reason.com publishes an article “Box of Dreams” on the Quadro Tracker, a bunk drug detecting device. Halbig is featured, and described as having only barely avoided investing in the item for the school system, until skeptic James Randi debunked the device personally for him. Halbig is listed as “Director of Student Discipline” for Seminole County. http://reason.com/archives/1996/11/01/box-of-dreams
Maybe in the topsy-turvy world of an ultimately futile war against drugs, any old flimsy straw looks like a mighty log with which to build. Certainly, school officials who bought, or thought about buying, Quadro were really convinced it worked. Never mind that the “frequency chips” that had to be loaded in the Quadro (and cost hundreds of dollars extra per chip), which were said to be “oscillated by static electricity produced by the body inhaling and exhaling gases into and out of the lung cavity,” were merely small photographic images of the search target, sealed in plastic.
But the Quadro boys were good salesmen. “It was a very exciting demonstration,” admits Wolfgang Halbig. “I was excited.” Halbig, director of student discipline for Seminole County in Florida, only narrowly averted wasting the school board’s money on the device, through magical intervention of a sort.
While using a Quadro on loan before purchase, he wandered around middle school hallways and parking lots, letting the antenna swing where it would. It reacted to a car driving into the school parking lot. Halbig is sensible about the subject–now, at least.
“I used to be a customs inspector. We tried to be rational. We knew the profile. Why would Quadro react to one bunch of kids and not to another? You see a car drive in with a bunch of kids. Windows closed. They’re bouncing their heads. Next thing you know, you get them to admit, ‘Hey, I was smoking marijuana this morning.‘”The demonstration, and even some experience, made Halbig a believer. It took a magician to convince him that the Quadro Tracker’s magic was just an illusion. “Just as I was ready to make a commitment to buy one, I got a call from this fellow named James Randi. He told me, ‘Before you buy it, can I come up and show you a test?’ I checked the guy out on the Internet.”
Thus Halbig learned about James “the Amazing” Randi, professional magician and debunker extraordinaire. Through the generosity of some of his supporters, Randi has a standing offer to pay $624,000 to anyone who can conclusively demonstrate to his satisfaction any method or device that works by supernatural or extraphysical means. As a professional fakir, Randi is not easily fooled by others. Despite the plethora of the supposedly mystical in the world, no one has yet won Randi’s booty.
Halbig let Randi supervise a double-blind test of the tracker. It didn’t work. Later, Halbig began to wonder: Did the magician fool him? He tested it again, doing his own single-blind test in which he placed a bag of pot on a desk, and then put in different frequency chips without himself knowing what chip he was using. The Tracker failed. He similarly tested a colleague who had gone through extensive personal training in Harleyville with Quattlebaum. He failed too. The Quadro Tracker had lost a customer–a $49,000 customer, since Halbig had planned to buy one for every school in his district.