The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board is expected to vote on whether to terminate the employment of Superintendent H.T. Sanchez at its meeting tonight. The meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Duffy Community Center located at 5145 East Fifth Street.
|The public is encouraged to email Board members with a subject line of “Fire Sanchez” or “Keep Sanchez.” The Board members emails are:
The Board is expected to hire an outside attorney to provide legal counsel related to Sanchez’s employment contract during the Executive Session portion of the meeting.
A Call to the Audience portion will precede the Board’s vote.
Last week, Sanchez had reached out to Board president Michael Hicks and requested that he arrange a meeting with Board member Mark Stegeman. According to Hicks, Sanchez said he didn’t want to put the District in turmoil if the Board wanted him gone and that he wanted to go out without each party throwing stones.”
Stegeman showed up for the meeting, but Sanchez did not. Instead Stegeman was greeted by Board members Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster. The turn of events, captured on video, clearly surprised Dr. Stegeman.
A review of the text messages exchanged between an associate of Sanchez, Sanchez, and Stegeman gives no hint that the meeting supposedly intended to avoid turmoil, would in fact turn into a “circus.”
Contrary to what Sanchez told Hicks about not wanting to create turmoil, his camp is continuing to do just that. Emails have been sent out to various special interest groups calling for their membership to attack both Stegeman and Board member Rachael Sedgwick. Sedgwick had initially requested a discussion of Sanchez’s employment.
The pro-public education group; TUSD Kids First, outlined the reasons for the widespread support for the termination of Sanchez’s employment:
• Six schools on the Southside were demagnetized in 2016 due to the administration ignoring basic magnet school needs.
• TUSD graduation rates are lower than similar sized districts and efficiency measures are less efficient than their peers as it relates to administrative, plant operations, food service and transportation services (2015 AG report)
• Enrollment has continued to decline from the top of the market (high of 70,000 students to currently 46,000) all while administration fiddles.
• Classroom spending is less than 50% of every dollar while administration costs increase and the Superintendent makes close to $500K. For example, the lack of textbooks should be of utmost embarrassment to the district.
• TUSD has hoarded $21M in Proposition 301 funding meant for teachers to offset operational losses. Breaking promises, Prop 123 funds were also used operationally and less than 30% were spent on teacher pay.
• There are growing teacher vacancies due to management by intimidation, a culture of fear and a lack of follow through on compensation promises. The so-called teacher’s union, TEA, has been co-opted and represents TUSD administration desires more than the teacher’s needs.
• TUSD outsourced substitute teachers to a for-profit company out of Phoenix and now a growing number of classes are staffed by long term subs. Education becomes secondary without full time dedicated teaching professionals.
• Classroom discipline numbers manipulated including grade changing scandal
The Governing Board
• Gutted an independent financial audit committee by forcing off autonomous members and replacing with insiders and employee spouses. Without checks and balances there is no oversight for a District with a $600M budget.
• Past members of the Board Majority took dollars from vendors which created questions on “pay to play”. Additionally, after giving $5,000 to the Tucson Chamber of Commerce they received a political endorsement a month later.
• Continued mismanagement of the 40-year-old desegregation case with no end in sight costing over $1M per year in unnecessary legal battles.
• Continuous Open Meeting law violations by the past Board Majority creating a culture of no accountability and a lack of transparency.