Three Sonorans note: Our comment section, which is mentioned in the third letter below, is unfiltered and not moderated and anyone can post, anonymously or those named Thucydides or Falcon9, but at least the dialogue is taking place even if we don’t agree with or endorse something that is mentioned, which also includes the contents of any of the letters below.
Third letter begins below
To: Adelita Grijalva and Mike Hicks
From: Extremely Concerned TUSD Educators (Administrators and Teachers)
Copies: Cam Juarez, Kristel Foster and Mark Stegeman
TUSD Supporters (Please distribute to others who are interested in the welfare of TUSD; teachers – please pass on to peers)
- The School Board Race and Its Many Resulting Implications and Complications
- Disgraceful T.E.A. (or H.T.E.A )
- Separation of State and Church
- Dodge Relocation
- Another Administrator Bites the HT Dust
Our group has grown with additional school site administrators and now includes a few teachers (the teachers in the group do not report to any of the school administrators who are involved). We try to be consistent in our writing but with various people taking on the writing of different parts of the letter, please understand its multi-voiced nature.
We found the blogging-guessing game – in attempting to conjecture who is involved in our group – miserably amusing. The guesses were wrong and we are glad that the post in the Tucson Weekly was removed. The guesses on Three Sonorans’ comments to our letter were also wrong. All guess-postings were personal and hateful. We had expressed fear of retaliation as the fundamental reason for anonymity. Our opinion on this has been reaffirmed by the actions of both TUSD and by a few of the referenced hate-bloggers. Sanchez has once again sent out a demanding message that all “leaks” must be stop and that administrators are to go through protocol at all times for everything that is communicated outside of TUSD. Many of his hinge men (and, yes, they are all male) have called individuals in to their offices, cursed them out and accused them of leaking information. Our public institution is being treated as though it is Sanchez’ own private corporation.
None of the concerns which were outlined in our first and second letters have been investigated; at least not in any visible manner. In fact, symptomatic of this, is the fact that Sanchez’ wife is as noticeable as ever- greeting staff outside of the Board room before Board meetings, etc. Once again, please- someone tell her- TUSD is not the White House. She is not the first lady.
You will recall that we revealed that Eugene Butler was not state certified, as is required for his position under the Arizona Department of Education. After our exposure of this fact, Eugene Butler had to quickly rush to do what is required to obtain his certification, thus, at the very least, our letter has prompted this action, however, he is still not certified. He was one of the enraged administrators about the “leaks-” bragging to TUSD brass that he was going to “get” the offenders who “leaked” the information about his lacking certification. Butler should have been certified from the time of his appointment and his behavior needs to be reined in!
1010 Central Administration rage has become a norm in TUSD. Cussing, vulgarities, racial epitaphs have all become the methodology used to intimidate anyone who is not seen as going along with the Sanchez core group. Anyone who speaks up against any of a dozen stupid ideas coming from the Sanchez brigade is immediately frozen out and criticized. They are tagged as being divisive and/or not having the needed information to know what they are talking about. It is ironic because the most divisive people in the District right now are Sanchez, his brigade, and Adelita Grijalva, Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez- his three rubber-stamp board members.
If the District is going to discipline Auggie Romero for his explosive, inappropriate behavior while attending a national conference and while representing TUSD, then it should look in its immediate 1010 surroundings for administrators who lose their cool way too often. Going after Romero for his indiscretion should mean going after a list of administrators who have acted out; inclusive of Adrian Vega and Eugene Butler. They have all exemplified unprofessional behavior that shows lack of self-control and basic respect. At the very least, in the case of Romero, it is obvious from the video that went viral, that he was taunted by his former colleagues. This does not excuse his response but if TUSD top brass administrators were screamed at, cussed at and insulted without provocation, (especially Vega and Butler) what do you think the results would be?
As we have said before, we will continue to write our letters until the Board or some authority takes note of what we have reported and investigates our concerns. If the concerns are validated, we expect to see many remedies take place.
Since our first letter, Dr. Sanchez’ attendance at principal meetings has been remiss- well let’s put it this way: he has missed more meetings than he has attended! He is unable to face the group because he does not know how many of us there are and he does not know our identities, although he has tried very hard to find out. He knows and feels the lack of confidence that we have in him. It is evident. He does not like being in front of a group that does not cheer him on. He did show up for the meeting at Collier with less enthusiasm and gusto than exhibited by him previously. The meetings add little value, take up time and provide yet another platform for HT to talk, talk, talk.
His recent hypnotic message is that “we” at TUSD must be positive, otherwise, how can we expect the public to be positive.
The School Board Race and Its Many Resulting Implications and Complications
The election is over and the resulting effect is that TUSD is in a position of total inertia/ status-quo, which is unfortunate for both students and community. Some TUSD board members speak of the election calamities at the state level as though it is the end of the world, not understanding that their own election results are disastrous for TUSD and Tucson. Adelita Grijalva’s camp says that her re-election is all about the public’s mandate for “stability.” In other words, more of her and more of Sanchez. She is delusional. Stability? Same old division on the board; a run-away superintendent who receives nothing but carte blanche from the board majority is not “stability” here or anywhere else. Adelita won because she and her dad dedicated themselves to getting her elected, understanding that for the first time she was really in trouble as a candidate. $10,000 worth of Adelita signs went up; 50,000-75,000 pieces of literature were mailed or dropped. More money was raised by her campaign than she has ever raised- with a lot of it coming from the Washington D.C. circle that supports her father. Her campaign energy was created from an inherent fear that she would lose if desperate actions were not taken. From this anxiety a campaign slogan of “stability” was fabricated. The irony is shuddering.
Adelita drew less votes this election than any other time she has run for the TUSD Governing Board, which indicates that several thousands who voted for her in the past did NOT vote for her this time around. This very fact rejects the “stability” theory that she is now touting about her re-election. In 2002 she received 46,221 votes/ 27.40% of the total. In 2006 she received the highest number of votes of the four times she has run: 64,130/37.50%. In 2010 she was elected with 55,512/29.48% and this year, 2014- she took in 34,347 votes/19.48%. From her highest votes in 2006- 64,130 until the election in November, she has dropped off 34,130 votes. She actually lost more votes from her peak in 2006 than she received in 2014. This is not stability. This means that she was not the top or second choice for many upon many of thousands of voters who previously voted for her. This is NOT reflection of stability. Had she and her dad not worked the hardest that they ever have on Adelita’s re-election and taken in more money than they ever have; she would have lost! They know this and so do we. Her campaign money and deals got her re-elected. (In fairness, Mike Hicks lost 29,434 votes from the first time he ran in 2010. However, he is not touting his “win” as a mandate on anything.)
In polling everyone within our group, we all had previously voted for Adelita and without exception we did not vote for her this last time. The District has spiraled downward while she has served on the board.
Mike Hick’s win for re-election is verification that Adelita’s votes had nothing to do with stability. Votes for Hicks were mostly derived from the east side and Adelita’s votes were mostly derived from the west side. Their politics are extremely distant from one another and anyone who has been around either of them know that they cannot stand each other. This buries Adelita’s mantra of “stability” deep where it belongs; in her imagination. Adelita won based on the money she raised and the many desperate actions she, her dad and Sanchez took to get her elected. This included cutting many deals.
Deals were cut for Adelita’s quid pro qui endorsements at a level not previously seen in a TUSD school board race. Superintendent Sanchez’ own involvement in the school board race got her the endorsement from the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce and those close to Chamber President, Mike Varney know this to be a fact. Chamber members know that the endorsement process was tainted and are very unhappy about Varney’s move. Is this all part of more stability? Sanchez was able to convince Varney that Adelita ‘is vital for the success of TUSD and, therefore, the Tucson economy.’ Adelita is vital to his success (since she endorses everything he does) and for his economy. This is not Sanchez’ community and it will never become his community. He is here for the short term, using TUSD as his stepping stone to a district like San Diego. What he does here is calculated- ONLY for his career; not our community.
Disgraceful T.E.A. – tied into the election results
T.E.A. endorsed one single candidate; although they had the option of endorsing two. The single candidate was Adelita. At the very first school board meeting after the election (November 18, 2014), T.E.A. leadership, along with a few other long-time members, attired in their red clad, did two significant things. 1. They attempted to politically crucify Mark Stegeman. During call to the audience, each T.E.A.er read prepared statements disputing Stegeman’s opinion that the teachers’ Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) had not been approved by the Governing Board, which he believes is required. He has challenged this during several board meetings. He has also challenged the fact that elementary principal contracts were approved based on false information that Sanchez provided to the board. The most recent Teachers’ MOA does away with longevity rights for teachers without T.E.A. taking the matter to its membership for a vote. Basically T.E.A. “leadership” signed away all future longevity stipends for teachers.
T.E.A. leadership claims that board approval is not required for MOAs. The Attorney General must investigate this issue! Or perhaps, to save further embarrassment, TUSD should examine the law. It is absolutely clear that board approval is required for any action that results in the level of budget expenditure such as the amount involving contracts (or MOAs) for teachers. In the event that the board has somehow created a policy that contradicts state requirements, the state’s legal requirements supersede TUSD policy. This is one of many reasons that our group now has teachers involved. As teachers, some fairly new and some with many years of TUSD experience, we are appalled at what we are witnessing both from T.E.A. leadership and from TUSD.
Teacher salaries and increases were not on the board meeting agenda of 11/18, yet, the board majority (Juarez, Foster and the Grijalva) and the Superintendent entered into detailed discussions about providing teachers with a salary increase. Karla Soto was even asked to give budget information relating to salary increases. Legal counsel went mute on the obvious violation of open meeting law. (She has learned what side of her bread is buttered.) This is stability? Obviously, Sanchez and Grijalva garnered T.E.A. support for her election by promising a salary increase for teachers. Part of the deal was for T.E.A. leadership to attack Stegeman with the ugliest of T.E.A. leadership vengeance. After all, they put up Grijalva’s signs, they walked precincts, they worked the phones, and they smeared other candidates. Now it is time to go after Stegeman and if Hicks does not align himself with the rubber-stamp crew, he too will be politically eviscerated. It is obvious that open meeting law has been violated throughout the wheeling and dealing and that a cozy and corrupt deal was cut. T.EA. leadership will collect! (For those of you who have not heard or seen what took place at the November 18, 2014 meeting go to:
Why the T.E.A. “deal” with TUSD? T.E.A. is in great distress. T.E.A. enrollment is at an all-time low; so low that TUSD could easily withdraw its recognition of T.E.A. as a union/bargaining unit. Membership has plummeted to what we are guessing to be around 1,200. (From its peak of between 4-5,000.) The T.E.A. building is basically closed down and is not staffed. When one calls the T.E.A office, they get someone from the Phoenix A.E.A .office. As a result of the disastrous situation, T.E.A.’s leadership has entered into a compromising , contaminated and corrupt relationship with the board majority and the Superintendent. Frances Banales, T.E.A. President has ingratiated herself with Sanchez in a very public manner. She has publically praised and flattered Sanchez. She had defended him as a “leader” during Board meetings many times. This is a union tactic never used before by any former T.E.A. president and one that has weakened T.E.A. as an association/union.
T.E.A. “owes” Sanchez for not recommending decertification to his board majority and Sanchez, of course, has collected by getting “his girl” re-elected. T.E.A. wants to desperately be able to deliver something to its teachers, which they hope will increase enrollment. The problem is that on November 18th Adelita was still so intoxicated with her “win” and Sanchez was pumped up on a mega dosage of arrogance. What a pair! After-all he had just gotten his candidate elected. Drunk with power and arrogance, they took the pre-arranged salary deal discussion over the edge with the vicious attack on Stegeman and with the exposure of the plan to use between 4-5 MILLION dollars on teacher raises. Regardless of anyone’s opinion of Stegeman, it is beneath any level of dignity to watch T.E.A. so readily manipulated by Sanchez and Grijalva. T.E.A. reached a new all-time low through there unprofessional conduct.
(Article continued below)
What Sanchez would like is two more of his majority; a board of 5 rubber stamps. By beginning his- not so well- masked attack on Stegeman via T.E.A., he will chip away at both Stegeman and Hicks until they concede or become so minimized that it will be a form of concession. Hicks was visibly nervous during the meeting and did not want to appear to be opposed to teacher raises. Attacks of one Governing Board member are meant to intimidate not only the subject of the attack (Stegeman) but anyone else who may step out of line according to T.E.A. leadership.
Teachers do deserve raises. This is unquestionable. It is the way that this scheme has played out that is so distasteful and questionable. So, before TUSD starts making good on its “deal” with the T.E.A. leadership, there should be an in-depth audit of the budget- the entire budget. We do not advocate for withdrawing recognition of T.E.A. We do advocate for a professional union/association that will represent the best interest of its members and not the best interest of those in T.E.A. leadership roles, the superintendent or his board majority. Since the board meeting of November 18th, many of us have spoken to teachers and have asked if they: a. knew of the political assault on Stegeman, b. knew about salary negotiations that have transpired and resulted in a salary increase, and c. knew that the MOA was not board approved and that longevity rights had vanished for them. The answer to all three questions from approximately 127 teachers has been a resounding “NO.”
Frances Banales has also publicly chastised those who criticize the District. Unions are typically avid supporters of free speech. Our current T.E.A. Teachers are now referring to T.E.A. as H.T.E.A. as a label showing how the two have blended together as one. For T.E.A. to be so aligned with the administration is an indication of how weak our teachers association/union is. By bringing this to the attention of as many teachers as possible perhaps our joint voices will work in making some immediate changes within T.E.A.
We said this before, but it is worth repeating. Grijalva, in her 12 years of serving, did not address critical issues such as curriculum, strategic planning- including budget forecasting and desegregation. All of these areas were ignored during her 12 years. One of her most despicable act was closing schools. She has been a “go-along” board member and except for a very short time, she was always in the majority. There is no excuse for her lack of delivery.
We don’t much like Mark Stegeman’s “plays” on the board but most who know about the real plays taking place now, find T.E.A.’s treatment of a single board member repugnant. T.E.A.’s attack on Stegeman was well orchestrated by Adelita and Sanchez. She allowed the T.E.A. line-up to speak in sequence and Kristel Foster allowed the T.E.A. President to go over her three minute time limitation during call to the audience. Sanchez made sure to say that there is enough money in the newly discovered surplus budget to pay for teacher raises. This is without conducting an independent audit. It is also without knowing what is needed at the schools. No one at 1010 has bothered to ask. Meanwhile, the reality is: departments and schools are having their budgets “swept” by central administration. Since schools do not have any discretionary funding this leaves them in the dark as to how to support the need for basic equipment, books, workbooks, other educational materials and needed resources. There remain over 100-140 teacher vacancies. (This all due to another big mistake by Sanchez in sloppily rolling out his 27:1 student/teacher ratio.) Magnet schools that are expected to perform miracles under the court order do not have the basic resources. Many elementary classrooms (especially on the west side) have 30-35 students. 1010’s solution is to throw a teacher assistant at the problem. We do believe that raises are in order IF the budget allows and if there is transparency in examining the budget while also surveying the overwhelming needs within the schools. Prior to committing to any large amount of money for anything, we are interested first in the real financial stability of OUR school district.
We have to wonder if the 27:1 ratio scam has just been a way to accrue a big pocket of money for TUSD/Sanchez, all on the backs of kids. There are so many classrooms that continue to have long-term substitutes (a revolving door of inconsistent instruction). The schools were budgeted for permanent teachers but are actually paying much, much less for the substitutes. Sanchez will brag about his sick economics because this scheme will result in massive cost savings. In speaking with our colleagues (site administrators and teachers) and from firsthand knowledge, we know that most of the long-term substitutes are on the west side. This should be looked into by the Federal Court. Surely this is not equity for Hispanic children.
Even those involved in the desegregation case who watch the District like hawks, seemed to have walked themselves into a money scam by TUSD. TUSD had not spent $5,000,000 of its allocated desegregation funding during the previous school year, something TUSD should have alerted the special master and plaintiffs about much earlier than the beginning of this school year. They convinced the desegregation plaintiffs and the special master to allow them to carry forward the 5 million to this year’s budget. They agreed and we have learned that they did so, believing that the money would be directly routed into desegregation obligations under the court order. Sanchez already knew where he wanted the money allocated, which is bad enough. Even worse is that the shifting of funding has had an overwhelming impact on the current budget, freeing up $5,000,000 in MO from former obligations. Now just about 5 million dollars is conveniently available for teacher raises. This shines light on why the money was not discussed with the desegregation group until right at the peak of the campaign.
However, the problem with this math or the math that would take $5,000,000 out of the “reserve” funding that Yousef Awwad worked hard to “bank,” in the event of a real crisis, is that salary increases are not one-time/single expenditures. Salary increases are recurrent; the institution pays the amount this year, and next year, and the next year, and forever. The financial obligation is continual. We do not believe that TUSD can withstand this cumulative obligation over the next several years. No employees in TUSD (except central administrators and chief legal counsel) have received salary increases. Yes, they are overdue, especially for teachers who are on the front-line providing educational services. But proceeding with logic and precaution is owed to students, parents and our community. There is a recurrent obligation to them as well.
Separation of State and Church (in the case of TUSD)
There has been a surge of religious based organizations working within TUSD schools ever since H.T. took over. We all recall his comments when he was introduced to us as the only candidate for TUSD superintendent. His religion impacts him in great ways, which is fine in his personal life, but it should not impact his decisions in running a government based institution that should be free of any religious laced services, propaganda, and exploitation of young audiences that are vulnerable. (We previously mentioned his near ceremonial praying at meetings.) Afterschool church-sponsored programs have popped up all over TUSD. Bibles are provided to TUSD students and they are “encouraged” to read and discuss the bible with one another. (It seems that magnet schools have been particularly targeted in having church-based after school programs provide services to a ready-made young and vulnerable population.) Christianity itself has a wide span of religions and it is dangerous to assume that one Christian based institution is not going to promote ideas that may be offensive to Christians who are not of that particular sector’s faith (or political leaning). What happens to non-Christian students in these scenarios? The whole issue with religion creeping into our schools as it has is fundamentally against the Constitution. Should this be yet another issue that goes to Attorney General and/or the ACLU?
Our plea to the School Board is to free the District from all situations where religious dogma of any kind can creep its way into imposing religion on TUSD students.
Did everyone see the ridiculous way that the Dodge relocation was handled? The first cost estimate was provided to the board on August 12th wasabout 1 million dollars. Based on the presentation, the board voted on the Dodge relocation to the Ft.Lowell/Townsend site. Then exactly one month later Sanchez announced in his Team Member Update the following: “
“I have tasked Dr. Vega, Deputy Superintendent Teaching Learning, to spearhead the transition of Dodge Magnet Middle School to the “new” Dodge Magnet Middle School (Townsend Middle School), along with Stuart Duncan, Chief Operation Officer, Marcos Jones, Program Manager Bonds and Architecture, Pat Cisneros, Project Manager, and Dr. Abel Morado, Assistant Superintendent Secondary Leadership. As a result, the Dodge transition team has begun meeting to ensure a smooth transition.”
From this free-for-all process, a new cost estimate of 4.5 million dollars surfaced. Those involved in the desegregation case basically called fowl and agreed for the use of desegregation dollars for what the first cost estimate had indicated: 1 million dollars. Sanchez then sent out a letter to the Dodge parents blaming the plaintiffs for the District not being able to move forward. The Arizona Daily Star then ran a story and an editorial, which can be found at the following sites:
As was apparent right away, Sanchez blamed Yousef Awwad for an initial faulty cost estimate, when those within the guts of TUSD’s 1010 have stated that Awwad had nothing to do with any cost estimate involving Dodge. He was never the go-to guy for remodeling/architecture projects. Then Sanchez blamed the plaintiffs for not agreeing to utilize desegregation funds for the more than quadrupled amount of 4.5 million dollars. Sanchez’ has become notorious for two things: he lies and he blames. The blaming is essentially another lie. It is quite psychopathic; he shows no remorse when caught in his lies. In fact, he tells lies on top of the lies. Too bad his deep religious roots don’t kick in during his lying-blaming sprees! (H.T., if you happen to read this, we know that you think you are very special and that the Creator placed you here, as the superintendent for a reason. We don’t buy it. The board made a horrific mistake …but at least while you are here causing absolute havoc, just recognize that you are not exempt from the commandments and that no greater power is working through you; unless it be evil.)
Sanchez did not need to manage the Dodge situation in the way that he did. He and his right hand man, Vega, misled the Dodge administration, faculty and parents by failing to have the group work within a confined budged. They treated desegregation dollars as a bottomless pit and budgeted to a 4.5 million amount based on a wish-list approach. He once again set up a situation for parents to turn against the desegregation court order. Sanchez’ anti-desegregation leanings show up all of the time. Of course the Dodge school community is not to blame; they underwent another one of the shallow-spoon fed group processes that Sanchez has become so famous for within the District.
Sanchez cronyism and another administrator bites the HT dust
Sanchez has managed to bring in a lot of Texan influence to TUSD. This includes Adrian Vega, Damon Jackson and the infamous Cathy Mincberg, the CEO of the Center for Reform of School Systems, who got just short of $100,000 consultant contract for her work on the strategic plan. Her Texan ties to Sanchez were exposed last year. Her work on the plan was minimal; worth perhaps a few thousand.Something that could have been done by some local talent. But H. T. does not play that way; it is all about personal relationships and who he owes and who owes him.
Vega was a high school principal before he was elevated to Deputy Supt. by his bud H.T. His lack of skills in budget, curriculum, instruction and professional development is obvious, yet he holds the second highest position in the District. He is really the one that blew the Dodge move. However, H. T. would never throw his bud under the bus. He just finds scape goats to have others look everywhere else but where the blame rests. Damon Jackson, another H.T. pal has not even lasted a year and a half. He is leaving his cronyism-gained employment to go back to Texas and take care of personal issues. Many within his department have said he was way in over his head. Maybe Jackson simply saw the truth about himself and bowed out gracefully. Vega does not seem to search for truth nor does H.T. but they, like their buddy Damon Jackson, are also in so deep over their heads. This truth will have to be held up in front of them until they get it.
Just in from T.E.A.- Last minute negotiations
While completing this letter over the weekend, some within our group received an email from T.E.A informing members that “….all employee groups signed the MOA for a step increase this year as well as having longevity embedded in the base salary with a commitment to pay a step increase annually.” What was lost has been regained along with salary increases. We are absolutely shocked and just have to keep asking how the District can support the expense of raises and the reoccurring financial encumbrance in the future. Bankrupting the District is not in the best interest of anyone.
The Board agenda is so vague that we believed that it was for teacher salaries only. The agenda item states: “Adopt and Approve the Proposed Salary Increase as Recommended by Staff.” The deal to get Adelita elected was much sweeter for the union than we had previously recognized. We thought that the financial burden was extreme when we thought the payoff was for teachers only. Now we see that all employee groups represented by T.E.A were covered under the “get Adelita elected, adore HT publically and politically annihilate Stegeman” deal. The email to T.E.A. members attributes comments to Stegeman that were not made by him. Watch the video if you want to confirm this. Smears, lies, more smears and more lies- that is how Adelita, H.T.E.A. and HT roll.
Our work will continue
We appreciate you taking the time to read this. We recognize how widely circulated our letters have been and appreciate each of you passing on the letters on to your peers, friends, and family. We thank Three Sonorans for posting our letters and will continue to send our letters to several members of the media. If you did not receive the first or second letter, you can find them at: