On Monday, February 23rd HT Sanchez gave his State of TUSD Report at the Tucson High School Cafeteria.
This is an Open letter by teachers and administrators regarding the Real State Of TUSD.
His report was filled like a helium balloon, with lots of hot air mixed with fictional year-long accomplishments- all hyperextended beyond any noticeable grain of truth. He will focus on HIS 5 Year Strategic Plan, since it has become the prevailing mark (scent) of ownership he has claimed. HT will report on his newly contrived financial figures and tell everyone that the District remains in the black, not doomed for a deficit, which has not been validated by an external auditor.
HT’s update should begin with the fact that he has cleaned 1010 out of anyone with significant top level TUSD central administration experience. The less those around him know, the more he is able to fool them and others. There is not a single person on his central administration cabinet with 5 years or more of TUSD central administration experience. Brain drain. History lost.
Will these issues be addressed in truth? NOT!
Will HT report that his deputy superintendent, left the District, reporting that the District was leading itself into a $15,000,000 deficit? Almost immediately after he arrived from Texas, HT appointed Yousef Awwad as his Deputy Superintendent from Chief Financial Officer. But the road got rocky as HT began playing games with the budget. We had all heard rumblings that Yousef was leaving because he could not deal with the lack of integrity that was being imposed by his boss- HT. None of us were surprised when he left. Strangely enough, about the same time that Awwad left, so did Jose Figueroa – Finance Budget Manager, also rumored to have left because of the new regime’s (HT’s) questionable ways of managing $. Red flags should have been flying from the 1010 flag pole.
• Will HT report that he and his Chief Financial Officer, Karla Soto, re-calculated the figures and miraculously found $20,000,000 in the budget, which sheattributed mostly to reserves? Will he note that up until the time that Awwad left the District, Karlo Soto, and Jose Figueroa, Finance Budget Manager had never questioned Awwad’s figures?
• Will HT report that he could not wait to begin spending “reserve” monies and that he does not give a damn about the need to have reserves for a rainy day?
• Will HT report that even his own Texan crony, Damon Jackson could not stomach it long enough to stick around and left under the pretext of family illness?
• Will HT be honest and tell the audience that two principals left their schools in the middle of this school year due to the impossible conditions under which they were working? The Pistor principal just could not tolerate any more harassment from 1010 and the Ochoa principal was run out of her school by an all-male HT- sacrosanct group of tormenters from Casa Maria (a soup kitchen). Several teachers and parents at the school remain baffled at how HT could have sanctioned such a takeover of the school. They are fearful, since this group has proven that they can run out a principal. Soup kitchen- formerly homeless- workers have no business running our schools. It shows ultimate lack of respect for our site administrators to allow this to happen and total lack of compassion for the Ochoa students.Other principals thought of bailing but were strong-armed into staying. Are these marks of stability? We should all recall that Adelita’s campaign was run on the platform of stability. But clerk and third puppet, all believe that the only stability that counts is keeping HT around- at any cost.
• Will HT report that schools, especially on the south and west side, remain to have a very high count of long-term substitutes? How about stability for the students Adelita; doesn’t that count?
• Will HT tell you that he has had HR camouflage the vacancies on the website by not identifying the vacancies by grade, subject or specific schools? Just another sign of inept HR recruitment strategies.
• Will HT admit to the audience that his “reaping from poor-students” (Title I funds) formula in funding his 27:1 ratio has failed? It has been a flat-out botch. Anyone at any school with a large number of long-term substitutes will tell you so.
It is exactly the opposite of what Robin Hood espoused. HT has taken from schools in poverty areas and funded those in upper socio-economic areas. HT has brought MORE harm to poor schools by giving them less.
• Will HT admit his failure in managing the Dodge Middle School move to Ft.Lowell/Townsend proposal? Or will he continue to blame his former Deputy Supt., for the miscalculations. How easy and cowardly to blame someone who is not here to defend himself? There was plenty of time for HT to have his delegated team- spearheaded by Adrian Vega- to question any initial calculations. They did not. Some Dodge parents have said that they created a wish list which got out of hand because those in charge (Vega) did not provide any guidelines. Interesting that we never hear any criticism aimed at Adrian Vega. In addition to his blaming Yousef Awwad- who had nothing to do with costing out the move for Dodge, HT also blamed the special master and the plaintiffs for their objections to the proposal to move Dodge based on TUSD blowing the budget up from about 1 million to 4 million.
• Will HT report on exactly what Adrian Vega’s does in his role as Deputy Superintendent? Adrian Vega is commonly known to administrators as Adrian Vague-ah because no one knows what he does. We know he moved to Tucson close in the vicinity of HT (living in the Fruchthendler neighborhood). We know he is HT’s hinge man and eager supporter. He yells at administrators; he treats participants in professional development sessions without any respect. He has sexually harassed TUSD female administrators (and probably teachers). (Although, since our letters addressed this topic, his behavior has improved or at least not been overt.) But we want to know what he does to earn his very high salary. Vague-ah was promoted to Deputy Superintendent from being a high school principal in the school district that HT came from. He had no central administration experience in Texas and we are not sure he has gained any here because he does not seem to administer anything. Of course, central administration experience seems to be of little value to HT or to the Board.
• Will HT address the Curriculum Audit and give a detailed account on what curriculum is now in place, compared to last year? Have all of the dozens and dozens of deficits that were reported in the Curriculum Audit been corrected? How about his choice for senior curriculum director? Will he admit that those who complained about Clarice Clash when she was at Tucson High Magnet School were right since the same old complaints about her again have life? She was placed in the current position to “quiet” the Tucson High problem. Before Tucson High, she did not cut it at Sahuaro, so of course, she was moved out.At Sahuaro it was known by some that she felt it was important to pack a gun to protect herself and carried one on a thigh holster. She will deny it and HT will support her. Exactly how many strikes does this tyrant get? Meanwhile, she continues her cruelty to those who have to work with her and for her, while excellent administrators are ignored. Many of her subordinates have much more curriculum experience than she does. Once again, HT does not hire or promote the most qualified.
• Will HT provide the audience with a detailed account of what exactly has been done to address the many deficiencies in the Efficiency Audit, without attempting to simplify the problem by speaking only about the new ERP system installation?
• Will HT truthfully explain why he has torpedoed the Audit Committee? Will he tell the audience why he has had his marionettes vote “no” on the hiring of an independent auditor who would report to the Board? There are only two words he can truthfully use to respond: Hicks and Stegeman. Actually, there may be a third word to explain his revulsion in recommending to the Board that they hire an independent auditor, fear. Does he fear what the auditor would find improprieties? The justification not to hire the auditor is a sham. He and his cheer squad have said it is funding that has stopped them from hiring the auditor. It is a lie.
• Speaking of which, we at the high schools and middle schools know that it would take quite an amount of funding to merge 7th and 8th grade into a high school, as proposed at Sabino High School. The dollar amount given to the Board is wrong; it is misleading. Either several things were not taken into account and budgeted or they were and they have been buried until the proposal is approved. (Another Dodge!) Will HT fess up and admit that he is showing preferential treatment to Fruchthendler because his daughter attends the school? Will he tell the audience that it was a hastily put-together plan or will he go to the mat with his limited data and budget only to once again embarrass the District (all of us)? Administrators and teachers from other schools want to know why their ideas to revitalize their schools have been turned down, while Fruchthendler’s and Sabino’s were immediately validated. Most schools do not have the “privilege” of having the Superintendent’s wife lobbying to get an additional kindergarten teacher (as took place at Fruchthendler) or cheering on the Fruchthendler/Sabino plan. Once again, she has failed to recognize any professional boundaries.
• We have learned some pretty alarming information from HR &Finance. Will HT explain why Kelly Langford and Lorraine Richardson, who are agents of the Fisher desegregation group actually have been contracted by the District in multiple jobs -hearing officers, learning support coordinators and the facilities review committee. Aren’t all of these positions associated with the USP? Does the Special Master know about this back-scratching? How can these people have their hands in the cookie jar they are supposed to be guarding?
• HT will report that there is a Senate Bill being reviewed right now which threatens to strip TUSD of its funding. He testified before the Senate Finance Committee and told them how important it is for the District to keep the desegregation funding (almost $64,000,000 per year) in order to implement the USP. Since he hit TUSD, we all know that he has condemned the USP. He has told administrators that he was not here when it was developed and does not agree with this, and that, and this and that. It has been a continuous list of reasons from him why the USP is “impossible” to implement. But, now that the funding is being threatened, the USP is the best thing since mac & cheese.He and his obliging cheer squad Board members want to grab on to the desegregation dollars for dear life. Will HT finally implement the USP; will he fund the magnet schools and stop playing games? Will he direct staff to provide the schools and departments with their desegregation budgets? He has fueled dissention in the community and within the school District about desegregation while he hypocritically fights to hold on to the desegregation dollars.
• And while on the topic, Will HT report his ongoing blunders in implementing (or better said not implementing) the desegregation order? (His time is up for blaming John Pedicone.) Will he own up to running up the attorney costs, since TUSD’s actions have forced the other attorneys in the case to weigh-in each time TUSD contests the desegregation order?
• Still on the topic, why is the District using desegregation funds to pay a committee, mostly comprised of retired administrators, to review its facilities at thousands of dollars per day? Why are these retirees qualified to conduct facilities reviews (Vivian Watt, Kelly Langford, Barbara Benton, Richard Gastellum and his brother- Daniel, (let’s make it a family affair) John Michael, Francisco Moraga, Miguel Ortega, etc.)? How much will this cost? Why didn’t HT ask his current administrators to conduct the facility review at each of their buildings? Couldn’t this be done during the summer break? They know their buildings much better than those who have been sent around to examine our facilities and a current administrator may actually know more about the facility that they are working in than long-gone retirees- or non-educators.
• Will HT report that one of his right hand assistants, Nicholas Roman is being paid to “tweet” during Governing Board Meetings? Schools are without equipment and supplies, long-term substitutes are a norm at many schools, many teachers have large class loads, high schools do not have enough administrative assistants- but HT has the poor discretion to pay someone to tweet during board meetings? If this person worked for the Board, perhaps this would be appropriate since they are BOARD meetings not superintendent meetings! (HT just does not seem to get this. Either does the Board!) This young guy works for the superintendent, tending to his every need; a dapper- jackal- HT loyalist. Read the tweets and you will see that he always paints HT in a good tweeting light. The Board staff has been cut to a skeleton crew so if the responsibility is going to be placed where it belongs, the dollars should go with it, since HT seems to have the dollars. Doesn’t THIS superintendent have more staff assigned to him than previous superintendents?
• Will HT report that he has been successful in bringing about NO Separation of State and Church within TUSD? There has been a surge of religious based organizations working within TUSD schools ever since H.T. took over. Afterschool church-sponsored programs have popped up all over TUSD. Bibles are provided to TUSD students and they are “encouraged” to read and discuss the bible with one another. (It seems that magnet schools have been particularly targeted in having church-based after-school programs provide services to a ready-made young and vulnerable population.) Christianity itself has a wide span of religions and it is dangerous to assume that one Christian based institution is not going to promote ideas that may be offensive to Christians who are not of that particular sector’s faith (or political leaning). What happens to non-Christian students in these scenarios? The whole issue with religion creeping into our schools as it has is fundamentally against the Constitution. Should this be yet another issue that goes to Attorney General and/or the ACLU? TUSD should be free from all situations where religious dogma of any kind can creep its way into imposing religion on TUSD students. A flyer was distributed to students at one of the magnet schools during one of the afterschool Valentine activities. It stated: “John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave his Son that whoever believes in Him shout not perish but have eternal life.” This is blatant religious instruction.
A school district with board members but NO governance
We are no longer addressing our letters to the Board or the Superintendent, since our previous three letters have resulted in NO follow-up investigations or actions to address the many problems reported. What did occur was misplaced scrutiny and punishment of some individuals for “leaking” information to our group. One casualty is Sam Brown who has taken it in the shin for presumingly leaking information about Eugene Butler’s lacking certification. Sam has been frozen out and sent back to the legal department. If he was not doing the job as required, he should have been evaluated appropriately but jerking him around because he allegedly leaked information is outrageous. And just to pour a little salt in the wound, here is another leak: Eugene Butler is “bragging,” as he does often, that he will be moving to Florida for a job that he has landed. Our information about Eugene Butler actually came to us from other sources- not Sam Brown- but this fact has no meaning in an HT-run organization in which everything has become personal (not professional) and in which judgments and decisions are made without any facts. For all practical purposes, there is NO governance. There are three HT-puppets and two hate-filled dissidents. Consequently, there is one very dangerous runaway HT Train, speeding towards disaster, while making neophyte decisions that are based on whim after whim, all the while spending whatever dollars the coffer still holds. The lack of accountability is due to the lack of governance oversight.
Our last letter, which questioned the attacks on Board Member Stegeman from TEA (which we appropriately refer to as HTEA) also sparked quite the HT delirium. He began to preach that we are not an authentic group- and that Board Members Stegeman and Hicks are behind our letters. What a handy way to attempt to discredit us and the information we bring forward, while blaming his least favored Board members. Of course, HT’s propaganda is meant to cause more division within the Board and to take all eyes off of him. Our letters address real problems and HT is allowed to ignore the problems by convincing his marionettes that we do not exist and that Stegeman and Hicks are the ghost writers. For any of you who have read our letters, you have to know that the information provided is from “the ground” and not the, in the clouds- oblivious to all Board level.
HT continues to do all he can to find out who is part of our group. He stayed away from principal meetings for a few months, giving all of us the silent treatment (we rather enjoyed it). Now is he making every effort to befriend us, although it is shallow and deceptive. He started a book club and, of course many of us are attending. We like books, after all. In larger groups or meetings he tries to spark up conversation and is particularly clumsy around more senior female administrators. He is gitty around those of us who are young females. A few times he has taken liberty in guessing who is in our group while he talks to small groups of administrators. Some of us have been smack- right in the middle of those groups, which is amusing for obvious reasons.
Board members have even attempted to “casually” ask, “How is morale; did the letters upset you?” Or they will say, “Things are so much better than when John was here; don’t you think? How do you think the District is doing?” They must think we are stupid. Morale is horrible. Horrible! The letters have expressed the thoughts and frustrations of many within the District and things are worse than they have ever been. We do not have information; we do not have the materials or equipment to support our schools and students; we are not treated with real respect (small talk does not cut it); we do not respect the behavior we witness from HT or from the Board- every single member; we do, however, love our schools, our students and our school communities. That is why we are all still here.
HTs Fabrication about Bogus Job Offers Has Created a Hostage Situation
Adelita’s campaign platform about stability and keeping the superintendent in place has come to hold her, Cam and Kristel captive.
Now, she has to deliver on her campaign promise for stability and hold on to HT while the District falls apart. HT lets HIS Board Members (and some staff) know that he is constantly being offered positions out of state. He drops this in conversation, texts, phone calls and would put it on a TUSD marque, if he could. Most, if not all, of the puff about job offers is a LIE. Any employer will check references BEFORE making a job offer. Who are his references? Cam, Kristel and Adelita (of course). Thus, they, his references, should be getting contacted from the employer; not from HT about his bogus job offers. He says he is not even applying for some of these jobs. Really! And how about those for which he has applied. He did NOT make the cut for Austin Public Schools.
Besides the pathology of lying, there is a real twisted and sick head game that HT is executing. It is all about control. Even if he is given the benefit of the doubt, and we pretend, as he does, that he is being offered job after job; why would he feel compelled to communicate it the way he does dangling it in front of those who then beg him to stay. (Does the word “unstable” hit it right on the nail?) Each time he brags about a job offer he should disclose the employer, the position and whether he applied or was recruited. These “job offers” should be communicated to all five board members or not at all. Otherwise he needs to stop the head games.
Here’s a strong suggestion: Adelita, Cam, Kristel- let him go.
We are Bored with the Board Leadership (not) and the Gross Board Dysfunction
Our boredom is a reflection of our absolute lack of confidence that they can lead this District in the right direction.
Cam Juarez and Kristel Foster have now been on the Board for two years (as of January), yet there appears to be no confidence in either of them to vote them in as board president (the other two don’t have an iceberg’s chance in Tucson -to get elected as president). Is it that neither one has learned enough about the District or the running of a board meeting to have been elected in as TUSD Board president in January? This is especially true for the Clerk of the Board since the norm is for the Clerk to step into the President’s seat after serving as clerk. Norm? There is no norm! Here the Board majority has decided to go “status quo,” and change nothing. Some say that they kept things the same so that Kristal could continue to play “bad cop” with her two non-Latino peers as she debates their points or takes them on in other ways. If you watch carefully, that may be true, however, Adelita Grijalva is pathetically rude as she makes snide remarks, rolls her eyes, taps her pencil all while either Hicks or Stegeman speak. Does she not realize that her comments are all heard during Board meetings?
Adelita and her crew have actually changed board policy to dis-allow board members from commenting or asking staff to follow-up on information which is brought forward during call to the audience. This is blessed by Julie Tolleson, Chief Legal Counsel. Adelita also stops both Hicks and Stegeman from speaking if she believes they have gone on too long. Cam, however, rambles for as long as he desires without her interruption. A board president is supposed to facilitate the meeting; not assume the role of a repressive dictator.
Here again, HT may take this section of our letter and make every effort to warp our intention in bringing it forward. Our intention is to point out how dysfunctional the Board is behaving. Hate is being fueled and the divisions are wider than ever! Right now we do not support any sitting board member; they do not model integrity, respect and professionalism. They have such minimal regard for the schools- which means that they have little regard for students. None of us would want our students to watch a TUSD Board meeting. The severe dysfunction, lack of leadership has given HT more individual policy power than any of us can recall a superintendent ever having. Superintendents are supposed to implement board policy- not create it through a sham process. The TUSD tail is wagging the dog!
Confusion about Desegregation is Rampant
In a two year period we have had three different directives on who is in charge of desegregation and how it will be managed. We at the schools joke around about it saying that we are suffering from desegregation whip-lash but we actually understand how serious this lack of consistency is, especially for those who are at the magnet schools. There is no consistent message and no expert leadership. NO one explains the Unitary Status Plan (USP) and how it is correlated to the desegregation budget. Schools that receive desegregation dollars are not given any specifics. Consultants are exploited by the District- taking only what they like from what the consultants recommend. (We know of this from UHS and the magnet schools.) Yet, so many of us in the District have come to realize that desegregation is one of the most important issues within TUSD.
The District is at risk of losing $64,000,000 in desegregation funding if legislation is passed that would abolish it. If this is not a wake-up call, we do not know what it! TUSD has to be much more accountable for its use of desegregation funding than is now the case. All of us know this but central administration keeps us all in the dark about our budgets, particularly desegregation funding. Many of us know legislators and some have contacted administrators and teachers about the desegregation funding for TUSD. Of those we know, all have said that the money needs to be maintained but that we know little of how it is allocated.
Just a few weeks ago Martha Taylor was appointed as the Interim Desegregation Senior Director, while still holding her job as the Director over Advanced Learning Experiences. Each position requires a full time person and everyone knows it. NO one at central administration has any real desegregation experience or expertise; including HT. Sam Brown did “on the job learning” just like Martha Taylor is now doing. Would anyone hire a heart surgeon who is learning on the job (not being trained- just learning on their own)? It is NO wonder that the District is so far out of compliance- regardless of what they report to the Court. This is intentional. We see the District take on pompous positions against the USP, against the special master, and all desegregation agents.
Principals had the opportunity to meet with the Special Master a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, HT also attended, which gave us much less freedom to express our concerns and to ask important questions. We believe that we should have known more going into the meeting. We heard principals saying that they wanted to ask more but they did not want to show their ignorance.
One of the most disjointed things we have seen is for the Board (which really means HT) to decide that desegregation dollars will pay for the remodeling of Duffy. We went back and checked the meetings that have taken place at Duffy and there are dozens and dozens of administrative meetings (training, business meetings, etc.). There have been a handful of Board meetings. None of the meetings had agendas that included the opportunity for the audience to speak. None of the meetings had many members of the public present.
A desegregation update is periodically emailed from the Mendoza Plaintiffs’ Representative. It is pretty widely circulated. It is forwarded to many of us and we, in turn, forward it to others. This is how we have come to learn the most about desegregation. This is a sad statement about how poorly informed we are within TUSD!
The District lost its recent appeal at the 9th circuit court of appeals against the federal district court that supervises TUSD. The District’s comprehensive magnet plan was also shamefully rejected by the federal district court. The audience will probably hear HT blame the special master and plaintiffs since this has become an undying habit of his. Why is HT so contentious about the desegregation order? Will HT explain why the Unitary Status Plan has been presented to administrators, teachers and parents in such a limited and negative light?
Our group has once again grown with additional school site administrators, teachers and parents (the teachers in the group do not report to any of the school administrators who are involved). We all contribute to the information in these letters and a few of us take on the task of writing; thus, you will read a few different tones and styles.
Our work will continue
We appreciate you taking the time to read this. We recognize how widely circulated our letters have been and appreciate each of you passing on the letters on to your peers, friends, and family. We thank Three Sonorans for posting our letters and will continue to send our letters to several members of the media. We also thank the Arizona Daily Independent for posting our last letter. Media and bloggers have our permission to publish our letters. If you did not receive the first, second or third letter, you can find them at: