One would think that the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board would have their hands full with the pressing needs of students and teachers, but it appears those needs will be set aside once again on Tuesday night at the request of Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster in an apparent attempt to harass Rachael Sedgwick.
Grijalva and Foster have requested the release of an investigative report on a complaint filed by their friend, campaign contributor, and employee Mary Alice Wallace against Sedgwick. That complaint was found to be baseless months ago, but the two Board members hope to keep the controversy alive.
While they have called for transparency in the case of Wallace, neither Board member has called for a release of the complaint filed against their friend and employee Auggie Romero and the grade changing scandal that occurred in May 2016.
The appearance of hypocrisy on the part of Grijalva and Foster has been the subject of conversations between District employees for days.
A desire for transparency is a welcome change for those who have fought the District for public records for years. The fact that the new desire for transparency appears to serve a political agenda rather than students and teachers shows that virtually nothing has changed.
“It’s not clear that the two Board members cited here are the only ones interested in keeping this alive,” said TUSD parent and activist Betts Putnam-Hidalgo in an email response to the ADI. “Apparently something about the TUSD Board dynamic pushes members to be unable to constructively work with one another. The voters try to change the players in a desperate attempt to get five people who actually put the kids first and presto! bingo! within a very short time we get divos and divas that seem to put personality in front of those very kids we elected them to protect and advocate for.”
“I have never seen the Board release an internal investigation report on any employee,” stated Board member Mark Stegeman. “Releasing this report would be a bad precedent and merely perpetuate the pattern of some Board members going after each other in public.”
The District is facing real economic hardship due to declining enrollment. The likelihood of future school closings is all but inevitable. Yet, there seems to be little attention on the sort of cost cutting measures needed at this time.
An agenda item, requested by Stegeman, calls for the study of the “possibility of closing one or both of the Early Learning Centers, or transferring their management to an outside entity who can operate them without subsidy from TUSD. This includes the possibility of closing the Centers at the end of the current semester, with reimbursement of fees or alternative provision of services for anyone who has already paid fees for the Spring semester.”
According to the background materials attached to the agenda item:
The discovery by the Internal Auditor that the two Early Learning Centers lost more than a million dollars last year, before including any allowance for some operating costs borne by Central Administration or the opportunity cost of keeping the two sites out of any alternative use, mandates immediate consideration of shutting one or both centers.
Running a day-care business is outside of the District’s constitutional or District mandate. Most of the families who have children enrolled at the Centers are not TUSD employees. Aside from any ethical issues raised by the misuse of taxpayer dollars for other than the intended purpose, the substantial financial losses incurred by the Centers raise the possibility that the subsidies constitute a gift of public funds.