TUSD Administrators Offer Tortured Explanations For Pueblo Grade Changes

After KGUN News exposed the fact that an unnamed Pueblo High School administrator appear to illegally change students’ grades, the principal of that school, Augustine Romero took to Facebook to admit, that he was the culprit. However, his admission appears to contradict the claims made by Superintendent H.T. Sanchez.

On June 14, KGUN9 education reporter Valerie Cavasos filed a story that read in part:

Highly credible sources tell KGUN9 that an administrator changed the grades of students without teachers’ consent, a violation of Arizona law.

On May 26, 246 seniors received their diplomas from Pueblo High School, but insiders claim the number should not have been that high.

A source tells us that an administrator changed at least 4 grades in the core subject from F’s to D’s allowing those senior to graduate.

KGUN obtained documents that back up that claim.

In a bizarre post on the school’s Facebook page, Romero left a message:

Pueblo Magnet High School
June 16 at 10:37am ·
Message From Our Principal Augustine Romero:

Last night (6/14/16) on KGUN 9 On Your Side it was reported that I changed the grades of four seniors.
Channel 9 irresponsibly aired this report without first having a dialogue with me or receiving an official statement from our District. Equally important, is the fact that I didn’t change any grades.

The facts are: it was discovered that a substitute teacher was suppressing the curriculum; therefore, denying our students the opportunity to be successful. Upon this discovery, I contacted my supervisor to seek advice as to how to proceed. At that time all parties agreed that it was our responsibility to ensure that our students had full access to the curriculum and an equal opportunity to be successful.

The students in question were then provided access to the curriculum and given the opportunity to successfully complete their course. The four students in question submitted their work in a timely manner; this work was evaluated by a certified subject area teacher, and these students earned the points necessary to pass their class and to participate in Pueblo’s graduation ceremony.

It is important to note that as the principal of Pueblo Magnet High School it is my responsibility to remove any and all obstacles and/or unjust practices that deny our students the opportunity to be successful. This is greatly important to me because I know it is important to our parents, to our community, to our students, and to our Pueblo.

Yet, according to Sanchez:

Dr. Romero consulted Dr. Morado and secondary leadership for guidance. Dr. Romero was advised the substitute teacher could not deny students grades for being tardy. The substitute teacher was advised that the students needed to have their work graded and counted. That was it. Beyond this, there is nothing. The principal acted within his authority and with guidance from his supervisor.

Education experts say that Sanchez’s claims do not ring true. They say that the principal has no right to determine that the teacher has somehow taught the wrong curriculum and thus acquires the right to change the grade. They note that Romero appears to be making an incredibly tortured attempt to explain what seems to be a clear statutory violation. The proper response would be to write the teacher up during the evaluation process. The grades can also be brought to the Governing Board.

Board member Michael Hicks is calling for an investigation into the matter by the State Board of Education. If the Board should determine that either administrator acted or supervised someone who acted contrary to Arizona law, they could lose their teaching certificates.

Long-time educator Rich Kronberg stated, “Neither Sanchez nor Romero gives us any details about the substitute teacher involved in this case. If it was a day-to-day substitute filling in for one or two days for a fully licensed, contracted teacher on sick leave or personal leave that is one thing, but TUSD has classes staffed completely by a parade of substitutes. Pueblo High School is one school that has more than its share of classes where students often lose the educational stability and other opportunities provided by having a fully certified contracted teacher. If the “substitute teacher” being blamed for either “repressing the curriculum” as Romero states, or for “punishing students for being late to class” as Sanchez contradicts him, was part of a parade of substitutes being hired by the company TUSD has contracted to find substitutes and fill vacancies created by TUSD’s profound shortages of fully licensed and qualified teachers that is indicative of the systemic problems within TUSD that lie directly at the doorstep of Superintendent Sanchez and he majority on the Governing Board that provides him knee-jerk cover for all of his lies, half -truths, and misrepresentations. If all TUSD classes were staffed by teachers qualified to teach them neither of the excuses would by necessary because students would not be failing in numbers so large TUSD leaders would feel the need to depress those numbers.”

“Romero’s statement shows someone who is using what he knows best to artificially depress the number of failures in his school, so he looks better. Romero is best known as the director of the controversial, and now defunct, Mexican-American Studies Program,” continued Kronberg. “He always falls back on “fighting against discrimination” as the justification for every improper action he commits. Changing a grade without the consent of the teacher…whether for the excuse articulated by Romero or the one Sanchez used…is still a violation of state law. Part of the solution may well be an investigation by the State Board of Education or the Arizona Attorney General’s office, but the real solution will come from a change in the composition of the TUSD Governing Board, the firing of Sanchez, and a new administration that puts student learning ahead of the political, personal, and financial agendas of TUSD’s elected and appointed leadership.”

To get an interesting take on the matter visit The Three Sonorans here.

9 Comments

  1. You want to talk Plato scandal, you should look into the scandalous Plato grades starting after 2010 at Pueblo. I want to know how a short term sub can suppress the curriculum? If it was a long term sub who has teaching credentials; they would not suppress the curriculum either. Why did they hire a sub that had no knowledge of the subject matter supposedly? The whole point of these highly qualified bull%%%% requirements that the state instituted on teachers all those years ago was to have teachers with credentials in the subject matter teach the class. You would think that the sub had to have the credentials to teach the subject matter at hand; especially if it was a long term sub. If the students were tardy all the time; that affects the overall grades as well. The principal just proved that students don’t have to face the consequences of their actions which is going to be an eye opener when their employer fires them for not being on time or getting their work done to higher standards.

    • Cecilia, the first thing that I discovered about TUSD back in 2009 was that there were no Curriculum Manuals for History or for ELL. Thankfully, I earned a degree in History, so no problem. There were no textbooks in my ESL classroom except an incomplete set of outdated (by 10 years!) workbooks for Level 2. Seven years later, the “cure” that Language Acquisition has come up with is to in-service ESL teachers in Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG), to be taught to the ESL students. TGG was “old” back in 1984 when I was taking classes at the U of A to qualify as an English teacher. TUSD has been in such a mess for so long and neither Special Master Hawley nor Judge Bury would listen to any seasoned teacher tell them about the Plato grading scandals or anything else wrong with that district. Thankfully, I’m retired now and waiting for God.

  2. So, Dr. Sanchez and Principal Romero have completely different explanations for why the grades were changed! We may not all be on the same planet.

  3. O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceived! And I thought that the fraudulent implementation of Plato online courses at Rincon was a scandal! “Dr” Romero got busted “doctoring” seniors’ grades. Tsk, tsk!

  4. On the other hand, if TUSD administration shared the math used to calculate the year end grade of the student(s) in question, it would go a long way in justifying their need to ignore state law. It’s unfair to give a failing grade to a student that had been passing all year.

  5. This story shows he convergence of several dysfunctional threads, all of them endemic in TUSD. One of them is social promotion, where students with problems are passed on to the next grade despite the failures of those students to meet standards. This only increases the likelihood those students will never learn the material at the higher grade level because curriculum is like a set of building blocks where the top layers can only be set if the foundation is strong. It sets kids up for failures in schools and in life.

    The second thread in this story is the suppression…through whatever means necessary, including those against the law…of bad news from TUSD. Every students who fails to master the content at one grade level and cannot be promoted is mark against TUSD. If the actual number of these failures was ever made available to the public heads…including those of Sanchez and the three Governing Board members whom operate as his amen choir…would be looking for other ways to spend their time because they would be out of their leadership positions in TUSD.

    The third dysfunctional thread has to do with the substitute teacher issue. TUSD has had a shortage of fully certified qualified teachers for years. The problem keeps getting worse. TUSD has also contracted out the finding and hiring of substitute teachers to a third party as a way to cut its costs. The result is that some classes are taught by a parade of substitutes, and the students in those classes never get to work with a fully certified and full qualified teacher. This is not what we remember from our school days where a substitute filled in for a day or two when the regular teacher was out sick. Pueblo HS has more than its share of classes where students are taught this way. The excuse offered by Romero for changing grades is about as bogus as was the decision to appoint him as a high school principal with absolutely no experience in running a school.

  6. JD, every middle school principal signs the 8th grade promotion certificate every year which claims the holder has met state academic requirements when the truth is TUSD doesn’t have any academic requirements for promotion from grade level to grade level in grades K -8. Socially promoting students is the only way TUSD and Sunnyside know how to operate, it is fraudulent, illegal, limits student’s options in the future and every educator relies on to move students through the system. It has been going on for years and years. I haven’t found one educator in my 25 year teaching career that believes social promotion is good for children, yet everyone does it. The Arizona Daily Star did a three day series on social promotion back in 2007, clearly proving its use in local school districts. There was zero public outcry and nothing has changed and this situation at Pueblo is nothing more than standard operating procedure.

  7. Well, I see all is well in TUSD and social promotions are still on top of the list. If Romero is allowed to promote socially how about the rest of the administration at TUSD? Most likely they will and unless stopped will continue to do so.

    • BTW kids, did you notice that a long term substitute was thrown under the bus? Its a wonder that the district can get any substitutes with leadership demonstrated by Romero.

Comments are closed.