TUSD Board Majority Seems To Be Doing The Best They Can

Former TUSD Board member Cam Juarez argues in favor of retaining Sanchez and the failed status quo.

I live streamed last night’s meeting anticipating the discussion on the Superintendents performance. The board must have had legitimate reasons for pulling the agenda item, as we are not privy to the executive session discussions. That said, in my opinion, the board majority seems to be doing the best they can under one of the worst conditions that the District has ever been in. I see them trying to clean up some extremely harmful decisions that the previous majority board members instituted. Decisions that frankly need to be revisited and fixed.

If one really looks closely at the performance of both Ms. Grijalva and Ms. Foster after becoming the minority on the board one could make a compelling argument that they are desperately trying to hold on to the power that they enjoyed while on the majority. Unfortunately their tactics, arguments and reasons for opposing change are no match for the new majority. Politics aside, what actions and or questions that the new majority has so far delved into hasn’t made sense? It is obvious that Ms. Sedgwick reads and is very well prepared while asking for information and stating her positions. Whether one wants to accept it or not the fact is that, Dr. Stegeman has a world of experience and his arguments are certainly foods for thought. Whether Mr. Hicks has higher political aspirations or not I view him as trying to be as fair and as professional as he can as Chair of the board. Given the toxic environment that exists on the board one has to appreciate and applaud his performance.

Seriously, public education in the national, state and local levels is suffering; one of the leading reasons is the exodus of good educators from the industry. There are committees, groups, think tanks, etc. wrestling with the question of how can we recruit and retain teachers. Supposedly how can we fix this huge problem when we don’t have the documented reasons for the cause of this problem?

Ms. Sedgwick’s query into exit interviews makes a lot of sense, yet I heard pushback from the district including the lead counsel that we can’t get into personal situations, that it might be illegal or so. We understand that, so get the well paid district experts in a group and figure out how to do that, that’s what they get paid for (and in some cases extremely well paid).

The issue of the need for longer and/or multiple meetings brought out some interesting counter conversations/arguments. The most telling were the ones that alluded that it was too time consuming for the board members. My answer to that is you chose to run for that post and in order to perform your due diligence one needs to spend as much time as necessary to perform same. The other argument that exposes the ignorance of certain board members was the more meetings the board has the more burdens are placed on district employees that need to be at those meetings. It is obvious that the person that brought up this argument does not know classification and compensation in employment and what this means. With the exception of the technical staff support i.e. note taking, IT support etc., staff that logically need to be there are the highly salaried exempt personnel, i.e. HR, Finance, Deseg, etc. Directors, very handsomely compensated. Extra and or regularly identified activities are part of their job requirement thus not considered as overtime. For a board member to even bring this up as a reason not to consider spending more time than regular meetings tells you the level of incompetence that exists on the board. I could understand if they would examine the amount of time it takes a teacher to do her/his job and question whether they get overtime for all the extra time they put in and/or get compensated for all the out-of pocket expenses they spend in order to do their job.

Finally I would like to congratulate whoever it was that brought up the agenda item that was eventually pulled because whether we like it or not the board and the public need to recognize and bring to the table to discuss “the elephant in the room”. If the superintendent is not relieved of his duties, for legal and/or economic reasons then I strongly suggest that during the remaining time in his contract he is given clear direction on what this board needs and wants and hold him responsible and accountable. Document this very, very carefully and when he leaves he gets a truly honest evaluation of his performance, good or bad. The man works for the board, the board represent their constituents.

When everything is said and done, I believe that our present board majority is doing what is best for students under very trying and difficult times. Don’t get discouraged it is very easy to convince ignorant messengers to carry water for cowards that might have their agendas exposed.

9 Comments on "TUSD Board Majority Seems To Be Doing The Best They Can"

  1. Working Man Blues | February 16, 2017 at 12:53 am | Reply

    Mr Gonzalez,
    Bravo! Well said commentary to what unfolded Tuesday night at the TUSD board meeting. Cooler minds should and will prevail. Our kids education is too much to risk not to.

  2. The school district’s pet attorney was simply wrong about exit interviews. Hundreds of school districts use exit interviews to get a good handle on why teachers are leaving those districts. As long as the information is never attributed to specific former employees and then made public there is no problem. I have never heard of school districts anywhere getting into hot water for conducting exit interviews properly. Failure to conduct exit interviews is much more likely to be the result of a district leadership…usually the appointed leadership (the superintendent and his/her staff)… that is trying desperately to hide a toxic atmosphere in the distinct that has literally forced out good teachers. The real issue here is the need to get new attorneys to represent TUSD. It is clear the current ones are so tied to Sanchez and Grijlava they refuse to work in the best interests of TUSD’s students.

  3. The problem with retaining great teachers is not experienced equally by all school districts. The ones with the biggest problems are those that exhibit…to one degree or another…these three variables: (1) inadequate compensation, (2) inadequate support for teachers in their classrooms, and (3) refusing to give teachers the professional responsibilities they ought to have. TUSD seems to demonstrate all three of these problems, particularly the first and second ones. I would suggest that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the claim that they also engage in de-professionalizing teaching, but that evidence is not as tangible as the evidence that can be used to show inadequate compensation and lack of support for teachers in their classrooms. TUSD is Arizona’s version of a perfect storm in driving out good teachers. Until the new Board majority is able to get rid of Sanchez and most of the policies enacted during his tenure and the teachers in TUSD replace their “company union” with a union that will actually fight on behalf of the district’s teachers we can expect to see the annual fall report on unfilled teaching vacancies go in the wrong direction.

  4. Richard Hernandez | February 16, 2017 at 6:54 am | Reply

    I have observed that the standard practice from HT Sanchez , Ms. Grijalva and Ms.Foster is to ignore the parents , staff and community when they bring grave concerns to the Board meetings.

    I fully expect the TUSD board to not allow more than the allotted 20 minutes for public opinion/ call to audience. Don’t do it Chairman Mike Hicks.

    Anyone who endures the time , effort , cost to attend should/ MUST be allowed to speak.

    HT must have some good qualities no one can be 100% evil. His staff and friends recruited folks to advocate for him at last meeting.

    In effort to provide fair and honest dialogue allow me and others to speak to why he should be terminated.

    I conclude that in the best interest of the youth/students at TUSD the only reasonable choice is termination of HT Sanchez.

    I hope that any of you who constantly voice or better said write your opinions via ADI will show up at the meeting and state your name and position on issue. Join me & others to be part of resolution and not just complain.

    See you there right?

  5. The Oracle of Tucson | February 16, 2017 at 6:56 am | Reply

    The above part should never be forgotten:
    “The man (H.T.) works for the board, the board represent their constituents.”
    This statement is a double edge sword, it condems the previous board for his hiring and retention and places great expectations on the current board for his quick dismissal.
    H.T. is overpaid dead weight who has a self serving agenda that is counter productive to the greater good of the board, the staff, and the kids who have had their education stolen from them.
    It’s really of little concern rather he’s misunderstood or a bumbling idiot, it’s no longer the issue, why is he still employed is the only issue of concern.

    TOoT

  6. David Thompson | February 16, 2017 at 8:06 am | Reply

    Unfortunately there are two members of the board who have clear political aspirations beyond TUSD. Michael Hicks has already taken out the paperwork for a candidacy to become a member of the Tucson City Council. Then there is Adelita (My Dad is Raul) Grijalva.

    Mister Hicks is already caught up in the “make the powers that be happy” so he gets much needed Financial and political support. Adelita is just biding her time.

    Hopefully the MIA “Hicks is 4 Kids” person will be found in time to help change the tragic path TUSD has taken under the reign of terror HT Sanchez has implemented.

  7. Mario Gonzales has provided us with an excellent analysis of the past TUSD Bd. meeting and apparently nothing really surprising happened. Board Members Grijalva and Foster continued to undermine addressing District problems, most notably the lack of, and in some instances malicious, performance of the grossly overpaid Superintendent, H. T. Sanchez who has been enabled in his destructive behavior principally by these two Board Members when they were in control of the Board. Congratulations to Mr. Gonzales and Board members Chairman Hicks, Stegeman and particularly Sedgwick, who thankfully has the courage of her convictions. a trait that has already benefitted the District because she continues to focus on the main manifestation of the problems in the District, H. T. Sanchez, the Grijalva machine representative who is in the best position to continue to create fundamental problems to the detriment of our students. The lead counsel`s “opinion” that exit interviews cannot be utilized because we “cannot get into personal issues and that it may be illegal” is pure obfuscation. Exit interviews are not a tool for exploring “personal issues” and therefore it is no reason for a concern about such illegalities and as we know. exit interviews are a common, beneficial tool in the world of work.

  8. There were A LOT of Sanchez Kool-Aid drinking followers there on Tuesday. Let’s change that, this Tuesday! Show up at the board meeting this Tuesday and support the idea of the board pursuing their (Sanchez, Jaeger) effectiveness for betterment of TUSD! I think they need to shown the door!

  9. The game playing with the 123 money, not paying teachers $14.9 million of their performance money, the continuing loss of 400+ teachers a year, and the resulting failure to provide teachers for a few thousand students are strong reasons to find a replacement for Superintendent Sanchez.

    The Board needs to take action and not waste time.

    When you consider that Ms. Foster went all out trying to get people to speak in favor of Sanchez & I’ve heard, 3 senior TUSD administrators were emailing and soliciting people to show up and support Sanchez, Sanchez didn’t have much support at all. If only around 20 people stood up for him, he’s in trouble. In the November Board election, the votes were overwhelmingly in favor of change, not continuing the same old same old.

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