TUSD Meltdown Continues, Staff, Students At Risk

This week, the TUSD Whistleblowers released another letter in which they call into question Dr. H.T. Sanchez’s “directive to site administrators, which is that they are NOT to discipline students for “low-level” incidences and they are to decrease the suspension days for students for higher level violations, and particularly, they are NOT to discipline Hispanic and African American kids, or, to at least lesson discipline for them.”

The Whistleblowers claim that Sanchez’s directive, delivered by Abel Morado, Interim Deputy Superintendent, has caused eruptions in discipline problems at Palo Verde, Pueblo, Secrist, Booth Fickett, Soleng Tom and other TUSD schools.

As evidence of the claims, this week a staff member at Secrist sent a letter to Sanchez outlining the dangerous situation at the school site along with his letter of resignation:

It would take too long to tell you everything I’ve witnessed at Secrist so I’ll simply provide a few examples:

• A 6th grade student who was sent to ISI for 5 days for fighting was paper arrested for the same offense just 2 weeks later, after which he was sent to ISI for another 5 days. Within a week he did the same thing again, pulling yet another poor soul into his vortex of anger. This particular student’s record of aggression and physical violence dates back to the student’s time in elementary school.

• An 8th grade girl was sent to ISI for 3 days for hitting another student in the head with a shelf. When I looked into her record there were verbal threats of shooting students. After 3 days of working with her and seeing a marked change in her attitude and actions she was back to ISI 3 days in a row for getting thrown out of various classes.

• 5 students started a small fire in the cafeteria. They were sent to ISI for 3 days with very little marked change in behavior since. (By the way, isn’t arson a level 5 offense?)

• One boy’s parents have been contacted at least 11 times by phone by teachers and administrators since the beginning of the school year. That notwithstanding the student’s misbehavior has been ongoing and escalating with at least 5 incidents/interventions (see Mohave) from August up to the present.

• One particular student who had just spent approximately 100 days out of school due to disorderly contact, assault and sexual harassment with contact, threatened two teachers with violence before he was sent to ISI yet again. It wasn’t too long before he threatened me as well. What’s most troubling—and this is what I’ve heard from a very good source—is that this student was recently arrested along with another Secrist student for breaking and entering a corrections officer’s home and stealing guns. From what I know both boys are in juvenile detention as of this writing.

• Aggressive, intimidating, bullying, sexist, racist and foul language is not the exception at Secrist but the norm.

• I was told by a staff member that the grade 8 language arts teacher who recently left the school was the tenth teacher for that particular class just this school year!

The educator concluded, “I enjoyed my time at Secrist and made many inroads with students and teachers alike. In fact many students, (including a few named above), came to the ISI classroom so they could do their work. There wasn’t a day that went by where students didn’t knock on my door and ask if they could come in. It saddened me to see that many of the students, who I’d worked with ISI, when back into the population, would succumb to the same misbehavior because of the environment they were trying to survive in. My methods of keeping order in ISI, which were definitely strict focused mostly on behavior, were at the same time freeing. “Without discipline there is no learning.” What’s more, by and large I had student buy in and, like most of the students I’ve taught over the years, those at Secrist are just as willing to learn as any others provided they have a non-threatening environment to do so in. I did the best I could with what I had where I was and felt in the end outmatched. I had many ideas to help Secrist—not all of which are good–but at least I had them. I hope that my actions of leaving campus in no way hurt anyone. Furthermore, I speak only for myself and not for anyone else regarding this issue……”

Earlier this month, the principal at Booth Fickett announced his retirement and cited the lax discipline policy as his impetus. Unfortunately for the Booth Fickett students, the principal only openly discussed his concerns after the mother and children had. Despite his delayed response, the principal was not exempt from Dr. Sanchez’s bullying and wad advised that his resignation was being accepted immediately.

In their latest missive the Whistleblowers write in part:

Any review of current discipline numbers, will falsely indicate that some of our schools look like they have improved in our suspension rates. On paper for some schools it looks like African American and Hispanic kids are not being suspended at the disproportionate rate that has been an ongoing problem for TUSD. But the truth is that behaviors are just being ignored to make the District look as though it has intervened on behaviors by training administrators and teachers on discipline strategies. There has been NO intervention. Any training that has taken place has been sloppy and splotchy. There are schools which have barely had any training and others which have had NO training. There are more teachers who have NOT been trained than those who have been trained. (We do not count any “computer” discipline training as real training.) Directing principals to ignore low level infractions and to minimize disciplinary action for minority students is dishonest and dangerous and it is not what the Court ordered. Sanchez is imposing a very self-serving type of bigotry. It is a layer that does not need to be added to the already existing biases that TUSD continues to support. We suspect that the plaintiffs, the Special Master and the Court would be furious if they knew the truth.

As site administrators, with great shame, most of us will admit that we have made every effort to comply with HT Sanchez’ under-the-table directives, for fear of otherwise being fired, but it is obvious that our schools have started to erupt, which we all knew would happen. We honestly thought that the Board majority would stop the madness since the safety of children is now at stake. The Board majority has ignored this problem just like they have ignored every problem that has been reported to them. They have remained mute on the issue. Now, we, as individual principals, are being blamed for following HT’s warped and whispered directives. We are the fall guys as each school begins to explode with discipline problems.

Betts Putnam Hidalgo, candidate for the TUSD Governing Board stated on Wednesday, “It is unfortunate that fulfilling the requirements of the Unitary Status Plan are not simply Normal Operating Procedures at this point. It is hard to believe that there is any political will to see this District come out from under the desegregation order when so many directives are subverted and so many efforts are derailed by bad faith efforts on the part of the District. There has been no policy change (since the writing of the 2015/16 General Student Rights and Responsibilities ) and what we are seeing these days is a different interpretation of an already existing policy. However, a quick check of the policy, and of the Unitary Status Plan will show that in fact this directive is not backed up in District policy. The TUSD Governing Board should do its job, and protest precisely this type of administrative over-reach. When punitive consequences are applied to the “messengers” that are delivering data, the District runs the risk of completely destroying the credibility of any data gathered. This would be tragic indeed.”

Long-time educator Rich Kronberg stated, “Dr. Sanchez must never have taught in an actual classroom. If he had classroom experience he would know that ALL students must be held to the same discipline standards. Setting different standards for students based on race and or ethnicity is a recipe for disruptive behaviors. This does not mean that all students should be treated the same, as if they were interchangeable widgets. Part of the skillset good teachers must have is the ability to hold all students to the same standards while recognizing that each student is an individual and has a right to be treated as such.”

“Every bit of research says that providing students with a safe and secure classroom environment is the sine qua non, the prime essential ingredient, for learning to take place. If students are afraid or nervous because they do not perceive their classrooms are safe they will not learn anywhere near their potential. The main consequences of Sanchez’s directives will be further loss of discipline in TUSD classrooms, far more families feeling their children will not be safe in TUSD classrooms, and more families moving their children out of TUSD schools into charters or neighboring districts,” continued Kronberg.

Kronberg concluded, “The bottom line is that Sanchez will continue to get knee jerk support from the unholy trinity of Grijalva, Foster and Juarez. This year, voters will have an opportunity remove two of these three venal and incomprehensibly ignorant Board members. If they fail to do so, there will be no reason for Sanchez to either leave TUSD or change his awful superintendency.”

The Whistleblowers have called for an investigation “by an external source for numerous and very clear reasons, the most important of which is student safety.” They conclude, “Kids and teachers do not feel safe.”

32 Comments on "TUSD Meltdown Continues, Staff, Students At Risk"

  1. When the government steps in and starts to make demands because of race and sex, then learning in the school is finished for all intents and purposes. Is it any wonder that when kids learn that they can do anything to anyone and there are no consequences then bad things won’t be far behind and TUSD has nor course and no rudder and are now finding out (and denying) that there are any problems when races are given different agendas. Strange that Sanchez makes well over 300K a year and continues to make the same mistakes and his three bobblehdads will walk off the cliff with him. How utterly stupid is that? If the voters don’t change (and I don’t imagine they will) TUSD will be a lost district producing some of the worst HS graduates in the state. And, if any business might want settle here, they will do their due diligence and find that the school system in the COT is as pathetic as the leadership of the City itself and then go on their merry way. It all interlocks kids, good schools, governments and civic pride make a good base for a company. Tucson has nothing.

  2. Did you see the news on tuesday and the coverage of the magee school incident? Haven’t seen any other coverage, but it was supposedly a kid showed another a KNIFE as he exited a bus and made a threat. It was reported to the ADMINISTRATION who apparently BLEW IT OFF. Mom got PO’d pulled kid out of TUSD and is still mad as hell about the NOTHING actions. Very easy to believe this is the norm as the article here depicts. Oh well the little darlings are only diciplined if white if at all.

  3. TUSD continues to be in violation of ARS 15-841 A(1)(2)! Nothing will change until Teachers start acting as Dedicated Professionals with their focus on the Academic Achievement on their Students and NOT their own Self Interests!!! They need to Organize and File Suit against TUSD for this and other Violations of Arizona Law.

  4. Listen to a Mom | April 28, 2016 at 9:10 am |

    How does TUSD leadership sleep at night knowing these things are going on?

    They are complicit and encourage this behavior in the schools by “lessening disciple” for certain kids.

    There’s no excuse or justification for this. New leadership is long overdue.

    My heart breaks for the innocent students and teachers who get tangled in this web of nonsense.

  5. Robert Aguilar | April 28, 2016 at 11:04 am |

    FPSaitta, TUSD board members know that the ADE, the SBE and the state superintendent aren’t willing to enforce the law, so they can do as they please. To ask teachers and administrators to place their jobs at risk by speaking up is unfair, especially when TUSD has a highly paid Expert(H.T.) and a Board that is supposed to be upholding the law. Besides, the TUSD community seems to be satisfied with TUSD’s performance, most TUSD schools are academic failures and yet parents still send their children to them.

    • Sir: If what you say is correct concerning TUSD Teachers, they are NOT Professionals and should leave the Teaching Profession!! As such, they, and the Tucson Education Association, are part of a “Educationally” Corrupt System.

      Change will only come to TUSD when these TUSD “Teachers” put the Education Interests of the Children of TUSD First, and NOT their own Educationally Destructive Self Interests!!!

      • Robert Aguilar | April 28, 2016 at 2:35 pm |

        In my 25 years in TUSD I have to say the teachers I worked with were extremely selfless with their time and money and showed a great deal of concern for the children in their classrooms. There was a time in TUSD when speaking out against inappropriate practices was survivable, not now. Even if one could unite a large group of teachers to speak up, to whom would they complain? I think it is unrealistic to ask teachers, most of whom have mortgages and families to risk financial ruin to fix a problem they didn’t create.

        • There is no doubt that speaking out against TUSD and filing Suit for Non-Compliance of Arizona Law, is Risky…Very Risky. TUSD exists for the Financial Self Interests of those that support this Corrupt System; a System NOT serving the Academic/Educational Interests of the Children of the District.

          But as Professionals, there comes a time when we MUST Speak Out and Challenge this Corrupt System in the Arizona Courts; Strike if necessary!!…and…there are Laws against Retaliation against those who have Filed and Support this Court/Strike Action..

          “Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us…… Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.” Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy in America, 1835.

  6. Whatever happened to the recall that was supposed o be going n?

    • Brian Sauber | April 28, 2016 at 1:42 pm |

      Howard, I ran the recall effort. We did not have enough volunteers to get all the signatures required. We ran into county corruption, and threats to all volunteers. I haven’t released the numbers of signatures we acquired , because I don’t want the three board members to know how successful we were. Many of us have continued to fight and had many successes . Right now everyone needs to demand Sanchez resignation. As for Foster and JUAREZ hopefully they won’t make it to the election, but if they do they don’t have much support. If they should win re-election my recommendation to everyone is to get out of TUSD fast , it won’t last much longer. I would be happy to answer any other questions you may have bsauber8@hotmail.com

    • Robert Aguilar | April 28, 2016 at 2:36 pm |

      The community wasn’t interested.

      • Brian Sauber | May 1, 2016 at 1:56 am |

        Robert, it was not that the community wasn’t interested, it was the fact that we could not get the vote county from the previous election to get an accurate signature count. The fact that TUSD administration threatened all of their employees if they signed the petition. It was difficult to get volunteers to collect signatures , but even harder when we were all being threatened to stop it.
        Brian

  7. FPSaitta: I don’t understand how you can say that teachers do not put their students first? Teachers put their students first every damn day; with their time, their own low paying money to buy classroom supplies, and their food to feed their students who come to school hungry. You are not being realistic or quite ignorant as to what happens in a classroom. Teachers are leaving in droves as it is and within the next 3-5 years, I would say that there is going to be a massive teacher shortage not only here, but nationwide because of how teachers have been treated. There are not enough young teacher graduates to replace the ones that are leaving. Who wants the political headaches, the low pay, the long hours, and the non-appreciation? Teachers are not allowed to teach the way it should be done because of all the interference from the state, administration, policies, etc. It isn’t worth it anymore. There is no joy. Corporations have ruined Public Education by getting laws passed to starve education in order to privatize schools and everything else that they can get their hands on to ruin the public sector. As for the parent at Magee, I heard that she is a nut job parent who wanted her 15 minutes of fame.

  8. Thomas Nash | April 28, 2016 at 3:18 pm |

    Now the teachers are feeding the students? We happened to the phony federal food program? Had the public schools looted all the food from the kids. Funny how the parents are always the nutjobs. Some are, some aren’t. But that the first thing public school administrators through at you. “Your parenting skills are suspect.”

    Public schools/unions/governments/community activists have caused all of this. Parents deserve choice.Charters came along after the fact.

  9. While my daughter was at Sabino, we would get a robo call once a week about her missing a class. As it turned out, they were marking her absent so the football players were the ones not attending class. And the football team brought in big money for the school. Don’t let TUSD use your children for their gains. Get them out.

  10. Common Sense, Please | April 28, 2016 at 5:41 pm |

    I work at one of the mentioned schools. It’s just getting worse, not better. I no longer have any faith in my site’s administration that they will or can do anything about it. I–and I know other teachers are, too–are just counting down the days until school is out. It has become a joke.

  11. Desert Rose | April 28, 2016 at 7:55 pm |

    One good thing about this is that it is being reported so people know the truth about TUSD. The bad thing is that this is actually still going on and that no one in the higher up’s is trying to stop this from happening. I really wish they would just close TUSD, send Sanchez packing, and make the board work for a living at a real job instead of ruining children’s lives.

  12. Lillian Fox | April 28, 2016 at 11:07 pm |

    At Secrist, Central Admin is directly involved in the school. TUSD’s Central Admin has demonstrated, they either won’t, can’t or don’t know how to administer discipline in a school.

    Sadly, this Secrist teacher is not the only good TUSD teacher who is leaving. 465 teachers left TUSD last year. There were over twice as many resignations as retirements. It’s too soon to say how many teachers will leave this year, but at the last TUSD Board meeting, the Board was told TUSD is planning to train over 400 new teachers this summer on the use of the TUSD software! In March of this year TUSD still had 110 vacant teacher positions filled by subs. That is even worse than last year, which was bad.

    Cam Juarez & Krystal Foster say to reelect them in November, if you want to continue “the progress.”

    • Brian Sauber | May 1, 2016 at 1:51 am |

      Well said Lillian, everyone needs to know were the problem truly is. I know David Montano , and I was angry when they moved him. It does not amaze me that the problem has worsened. If we don’t get control of our district back soon , there will be no saving it. Instead of letting our teachers leave we should be demanding the resignations of Sanchez , Juarez , Foster and Grijalva NOW.

  13. It is intriguing that the Republican party doesn’t care enough about education to recruit qualified candidates who care enough about a safe high quality educational environment for the largest school district in southern Arizona.

    But they will spend $$$ to eliminate the only County supervisor who cares about fiscal responsibility. Cronies clearly crossover.

  14. These comments make me want to cry. I am a professional. Just because I don’t want to abandon well behaved students, just because I don’t make enough money to afford a lawsuit, and just I don’t want my family to starve in the streets, I am now at fault according to the above comments. We professionals are doing the best we can to educate in what has become a very hostile environment. My own child is well behaved. I can’t do anything about parents that pass blame and don’t take responsibility.

    • Brian Sauber | May 1, 2016 at 1:44 am |

      Sad, the fault is not teachers, you have many people out here that support you. I know the former principal at Secrist and I can assure you that the fault is all Sanchez and the board majority. There are many of us out here fighting everyday for the teachers and students of TUSD. Whats happening is wrong and I will not allow Sanchez and Grijalva to get away with it. I will be happy to discuss any of this with you bsauber8@hotmail.com

  15. Resigned from TUSD | May 1, 2016 at 7:40 pm |

    Mr. Saitta,remind us of how many TUSD schools you were asked to resign from? And Mr. Sauber, I believe that you also have a dubious past in the district. Both of you, please do not act like the voice of those of us who actually dedicated ourselves to our jobs within TUSD and are truly heartbroken to see what is happening to staff and students. You two have axes to grind, it shows, and gives the rest of us a bad name. Allow those of us who know what we’re talking about to speak about TUSD. You both really need to stay off of opinion boards. And Mr. Sauber, as much as you don’t want to believe this, the recall failed because you were the wrong person to be running it. You made it fail. It had nothing to do with the lack of volunteers.

    • Resigned from TUSD

      AMEN, WELL SAID. The two S’s need to quietly go away.

    • FPSaitta | May 2, 2016 at 7:49 am |

      “…..Both of you, please do not act like the voice of those of us who actually dedicated ourselves to our jobs within TUSD and are truly heartbroken to see what is happening to staff and students….”

      Sir, if this were actually true, you/others would NOT simply carp about the how “heartbroken” you are, and take Substantive Action: File Suit against TUSD for noncompliance with Arizona Law and/or Strike.

      Words are CHEAP….action against TUSD takes the Courage of a Professional/Dedicated Teacher!!!

  16. Jim Bihn | May 2, 2016 at 1:41 pm |

    What is ISI ? I couldn’t find it in the article.

  17. THIS IS ALSO WHAT I SAID ABOUT SECRIST ADMIN, TEACHERS, STUDENTS AND SUPPORT STAFF:

    I’d like to make it clear from the outset that I do not wish to criticize anyone at Secrist. Who am I to do so? In fact, in my 15 years of teaching, the staff at
    Secrist from top to bottom is one of the best I’ve ever worked with. I think Ms. Volpe and Mr. Beck are doing a fine job in trying to turn the school around and have made many gains. Where I respectfully disagree is in their timetable for doing so and the consequences meted out to students for violations of the GSRR. I believe that Secrist is a toxic and dysfunctional environment and may possibly get worse before it gets better. My concern is that someone will get hurt (or worse) in the meantime.

  18. ISI is In School Intervention, or In School Suspension.

  19. Stand up for minority children | May 3, 2016 at 9:00 am |

    African American and Hispanics Parents stand up! Do not stand by and let TUSD allow our children a pass for bad behavior at school because they are minority. We fought for the rights of our children so they could go to the same schools as white children, now TUSD is over turning our sacrifices. Hold all children accountable for their actions no matter the color of their skin. I will not let a white child receive a harsher punishment than my minority student for the same crime, its this exact behavior that almost destroyed or eliminated minority’s in America. This policy is detrimental to us and our Family’s safety and the future for minority’s. The relationship with white children and minority’s is being trampled on, what’s next?

    • FPSaitta | May 3, 2016 at 9:19 am |

      Great Post: The Academic and Educational Dysfunctionality of TUSD, is primarily the responsibility of the Voters/Parents of the District for supporting a Board and Administration whose only concerns are their own Financial Self Interests and NOT the Academic Achievement and Education of Children of the District.

      In addition, Teachers of the District, particularly those that support the Tucson “Education” Association, have allowed themselves to be Professionally Emasculated by the Board and Administration for their lack of Courage, Professionalism, and Dedication to the Education of their Students for allowing this Academic and Educational Dysfunctionality to continue Unchallenged in TUSD.

      TAKE ACTION…your Students deserve NOTHING LESS!!!!

  20. David Finley | May 3, 2016 at 9:32 am |

    After watching the behavior of hispanic students at Trump rallies, you can forget about their parents being responsible citizens. They are here to get what they can for free. Deportation has dropped 43% under Obama as the budget grows. He lies again.

  21. As an experienced (25+ years) educator in TUSD, and the product of TUSD schools growing up, I am very saddened by all of these posts. I spent many years teaching in the largest district in the state and returned to Tucson several years ago. I feel we have, “The Perfect Storm. ” I’ve seen less family involvement, more expectations placed on teachers, and very, very little respect. And, of course, the low pay. In TUSD, we also have the USP, that began many years ago. It does NOT take into consideration that demographics have changed in the last 30+ years. The special master, who does not live in the state,and never has, makes tons of money making directives on schools he really knows nothing about. Yes. There is a teacher shortage. Yes. It will get worse. Yes. All students, no matter who they are, should have the same behavior expectations and consequences. Yes. Behavior in schools is awful. And, teachers have very little say in consequences for poor behavior. Perfect storm. TUSD is in trouble.

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