To: Ninth Open Letter to the Community
From: Whistleblowers- Comprised of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers, and Parents
Subject: The TUSD Tunnel Gets Darker and Bleaker
Thought we had gone away? Wrong. We just took a short hiatus to allow for some reflection and perspective. In agreement with and response to some criticism that was cast our way; we will work diligently not to become tedious in what we are attempting to accomplish, which is to bring attention to some of the most egregious actions taken and behaviors demonstrated by H.T. Sanchez and his Board majority- Adelita Grijalva, Cam Juarez and Kristel Foster. We believe that the more people become aware of what is taking place at TUSD- the more Sanchez, Grijalva, Foster and Juarez will be watched. The more they are watched, the more likely they are to get caught in doing things such are as described in our letters- or worse- until the point that it just will not be tolerated.
Our group of site administrators, teachers, and parents has once again grown.
Over the last year, as we have watched behaviors from Sanchez’ central administration and the Board turn meaner and meaner, as well as increasingly incompetent, we have made effort to report these actions. Indeed, we have fought back with some degree of meanness, but unlike the malice shown by Sanchez, Grijalva, Juarez and Foster- ours is simply reciprocal, while their cruelty is aimed at innocent individuals, including children, parents, teachers, site administrators, those involved in the desegregation battle and members of the public.
We cover several topics in this letter. If it is too long for one sit; please read it in sections. PLEASE read it and share it. We thank you for doing both.
Sanchez’ Aloofness with Site Administrators & His Need to Become More Political
Until the Board meeting of June 9th, Dr. Sanchez’ aloofness during meetings with principals just did not make sense. He has gone from being politically friendly to becoming more and more aloof. Principals have always been treated as the superintendent’s essential partners in bringing about success for their school district. Sanchez treats most of us as though we are bothersome; a burden.
Several site administrators have commented on the immense superiority complex that has developed during Sanchez’ two years as the TUSD Tsar. It once again hit us- this Superintendent Sanchez-Frankenstein has been created. The June 9th three to two vote on the best kept secret of the month- Sanchez’ employment contract- revealed what is behind the Sanchez aloofness and the ballooning of his superiority complex. He has three solid- no questions asked- blindly-loyal-to-the-death board members and now he is here to stay until 2018 at about $400,000 per year. He coerced his three to renew his contract now; less than two years into a three year contract- or he would get snapped up by another school district. This seems like a form of extortion. It worked. (We suspect that any school board that would do just a little research would not employ Sanchez.)
During the discussion on the contract, Juarez appeared to have broken his truce of silence by admitting that he had received a draft of the Sanchez-contract some weeks ago, via email, while Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks complained that they had not seen the contract until they walked into executive session earlier in the day. Juarez took to scolding them for not reading their email with the drafted contract. As Juarez realized his stupidity in disclosing the receipt of the drafted contract, he awkwardly insisted that he had not said what he had just said. Realizing, of course, that what he said is recorded, he then said that what he meant to say was that all Board members were made aware that the contract would be presented but that he had not received a drafted copy via email. The back peddling was pathetic and the foot in his mouth just could not be extracted. Is it possible for one person to be dumb and dumber?
The Board had been counseled by their attorneys not to discuss the contract until after the vote on the contract took place and the contract was signed.
Sanchez received three solid votes for his near $400,000 contract; pretty good for a rookie superintendent! (Remember, he had served as an Interim Superintendent at Ector County Independent School District from March 13, 2013 until he was appointed TUSD’s Superintendent in July of 2013 from a finalist pool of one.) He had 4 limited months of interim status superintendent experience when he was hired. Now, that is a rookie; and an interim rookie at that!
Once Grijalva, Foster and Juarez rationalized their support for the contract renewal- they voted yes. Neither Stegeman nor Hicks voted in favor of the exorbitant contract. Sanchez has lost one vote during his less than two years with TUSD.
Sanchez received a gargantuan raise and incredible benefits
Sanchez’ base salary for 2013-14 was $210,000. His newly approved 5 year colossal base salary for 2015-16 = $260,000; 2016-17 = $270,000; 2017-18 = $280,000. These amounts are just the base salary. He gets a guaranteed raise every year he remains employed by TUSD along with incentive pay of $25,000 each year for the next two years he remains. He will receive a bonus of $152,500 for remaining with TUSD the third year of his contract. Sanchez also gets 44 vacation days that he can turn in for cash at the end of each year and a raise every year he stays and incentive pay of $25,000 for each of the next two years he stays. He will get a bonus of $152,500 for staying the 3rd year. He continues to get $3,000 to join organizations of his choice and received a $25,000/year stipend to with as he pleases. (Many times he buys tables at events such as the LULAC Awards Luncheon and “invites” Board members to sit at his table.”) Additionally, he gets a 6% performance bonus every year. The contract is arrogant; the action taken by the Board was arrogant and commits tax dollars until 2018. Foster’s and Juarez’ terms end December of 2016. They have committed funding to Sanchez beyond their term. It is enormously presumptuous of them. We assume that they assume that they will be automatically re-elected.
After the vote, at Grijalva’s insistence, Sanchez went through what the central administrator-clan calls, “the love tunnel.” The clan holds their arms in the air in two lines, facing one another- arching their arms together while the appointee walks through the tunnel- “feeling the love.” It is nothing short of pretentious and ridiculous during a professional Board meeting. A more applicable induction process would be to form the tunnel, turn off all of the lights and see if the appointee can find their way through the dark tunnel as they attempt to catch a glimmer of light to follow in heading towards the end of the tunnel. Right now, there is no light and most appointees would find themselves falling; true to form because most site administrators receive little support from this administration. Most administrators would say that the current TUSD management style is to rule through fear and intimidation. Most are fearful of saying anything at all for fear of the repercussions. Once the news of Sanchez’ new contract spreads, morale will drop even lower than the current rock bottom.
At a recent meeting with principals, Sanchez proclaimed that he has to become more political. He said he is planning to ask the voters to pass a facilities bond. Sanchez could not be any more political than he is. He was and is a politician; he is not a leader. He politicked his way into his job and his new contract and has never stopped his salacious thirst for more attention and glory (which he gets from his 3). Meanwhile, students continue to leave TUSD; administrators are fleeing TUSD as fast as they are able to find and be offered positions elsewhere; and the TUSD image is one of corruption and lies. At an administrative meeting in April, Steve Holmes acknowledged the departure of Ignacio Ruiz and stated that with his and Ruiz’ exodus from TUSD, the District would be void of any institutional memory to support sound decisions.
During the Board meeting, Krystal’s rationale for supporting Sanchez’ contract was the fact that so many central administrators have left the District, suggesting that they have been wooed away. Those who have left TUSD, actually pursued positions elsewhere to get away from this regime; specifically Sanchez. They may not admit it because no one likes burning bridges. A review of the list of those who have left for other positions; shows that most were administrators who had worked in TUSD for years and were totally committed to TUSD. But like Yousef Awwad, they could not compromise their integrity and their professionalism to work for a person absent of any integrity and professionalism. Sanchez is in it for himself and he has three enablers. The Sanchez-Frankenstein monster that the majority of the Board has created is not one most of us want to work with or be around. His new contract will serve as another jolt energy to continue his monstrous ways.
Outsourcing is Outsourcing & a Lay Off is a Lay Off; Do NOT Play Semantics
With a TUSD Board that is comprised of majority Democrats, we thought that they would keep to the foundational principles that reflect the values of progressive Democrats. We were wrong. We watched the June 2, 2015 Board meeting with absolute disgust at how easily it has become to treat employees as expendable commodities- and by the mere high-pitched utterance of a “Sanchez recommendation”- and obvious blessing by Grijalva, Juarez and Foster- change the status from that of “employee” to one who is “leased” or “outsourced” to perform exactly the same services. TUSD has moved in the direction of contracting retired administrators (but only those who have remained in the good graces of the superintendent by bowing to his will; such as Abel Morado) hearing officers, and security guards.
Security guards have grown in number since TUSD militarized its public board meetings during the era of dismantling of Mexican American Studies. To date, the security guard army that was built, has remained visible at Board meetings, without a whisper from our so called “progressives” on the Board to cut back on the militia. FYI- those assigned to cover Board meetings carry loaded guns.
The newest group of throw-away employees are substitute teachers; substitutes are only second in line to teachers, of those who provide the most DIRECT instructional contact with students during the school year. TUSD’s actions to relegate them to “leased” commodities is disgraceful. Sanchez claims that this is all due to the Affordable Health Care Act, because, after all, now TUSD has to actually pay for the health insurance of employees who work 20 hours or more per week. Why would TUSD take the high road in showing any humanity in providing employees with health care insurance? Were any of you aware that Grijalva, Juarez and Foster were actually against the Affordable Health Care Act and opposed to paying for employee benefits? Now, it is all out in the open. They can try to smear lipstick on this pig- but at the end of the TUSD work day- it is still a pig.
At the June 2nd Board meeting, as Soto and Sanchez spoke about the plan to move to “employee leasing” (much like one leases a vehicle; we suppose) and the cost savings of between $1.6 million and __?__; one thing was clear- they could not pin point the cost savings during their back and forth on numbers. It just became more and more confusing. We believe the confusion that is interjected into all budget discussions is intentional.
During the meeting, for a split second- Foster attempted to clarify whether the Sanchez proposal was actually “outsourcing” since the term “employee leasing” was being used and since the topic of “outsourcing” is one which draws controversy. It was obvious that Foster irritated Grijalva immensely by posing the question. Grijalva jumped all over Foster with both feet, cutting her statement off and seemingly chastising her for even questioning the recommendation- stating that it was all semantics. Kristel was silenced and reminded to stay in “her place;” a place of ingratiation and indebtedness to Grijalva for life. In the end, Foster’s questions do not matter because even when Foster asks good questions- her vote ends up in Sanchez’ pocket either out of her devotion to him or her “giving” her vote to Grijalva out of sheer fear and intimidation.
The articles below goes into the details of rationale provided by Sanchez and Karla Soto on their proposed “employee leasing.”
From the above article:
“ “Our obligation is really to get classroom teachers fulltime into our schools,” Sanchez told the Governing Board. He said the outsourcing option enables TUSD to maintain teacher raises and a class-size initiative without closing schools or conducting layoffs. That appealed to Board Member Cam Juarez.” All of the utterances are more smeared lipstick on the walking pork. Maybe Sanchez and his company of 3 should have waited to see what would be allocated from the state before issuing raises (out of the reserve fund) and maybe Sanchez should have held off on his 27:1 student/teacher ratio until there were sufficient teachers available to cover all classes. Maybe he could have phased in his plan by elementary- then middle school and then high school. As for layoffs- here is a reality check: Eliminating substitutes as TUSD employees is a layoff and it is a substantial one. They will no longer be employees if the “go-along with anything Sanchez utters” Board members vote in favor of his proposal. Perhaps Sanchez should not have given the salary increases to his cabinet members, both last year and this year, inclusive of $20,000 to Julie Tolleson (in 2014), who allegedly reports to the Board but who actually takes direction from Sanchez. Perhaps Sanchez should not have accepted his undeserved bonuses.
The above noted article also states: “Despite having a pool of more than 800 substitutes, only 414 were active in TUSD last school year. The district identified more than 4,100 instances in which classes were not covered.” These numbers show the INSANITY for Sanchez to have implemented a 27:1 student/teacher ratio. The ratio created more teaching positions, all of which were not filled. Overall there was a greater need for substitutes, which were clearly not readily available. Duh! But Sanchez went on with his plan- despite advice against it. He continues to brag about this as a so called accomplishment, as he does many of his actions which have turned out to be failures or nothing more than smoke and mirror shams. The lack of substitutes created havoc at many of our schools this last year; more than years prior. We know firsthand that the responsibility for finding coverage for absent teachers when substitutes were not available fell mostly on the site administrator. This will continue to be the case.
At the Board meeting of June 9th Sanchez announced that they are creating an interim substitute pool comprised of TUSD employees. He spoke of the plan but did not present an actual plan. He and his HR Director Maiden came up with this idea as a result of the negative feedback they received on “outsourcing.” Sanchez is reactionary in his planning; not strategic. It still appears that the plan to outsource the majority of the substitutes is on the table.
As an aside, the PR person, Bonnie Boes spends much more time boosting Sanchez’ image than she does the image of the schools, which is the only place good things are happening in TUSD. How are we expected to increase enrollment when all she is doing is hyping Sanchez. She has failed to visit the schools, unless members of the media have already planned to be at a school. The lipstick public relations campaign on Sanchez is amazingly dishonest.
Sanchez’ Shenanigans with the Budget; the Audit Committee; and Freezing Positions
(Article continued below)
We each have suffered minor cases of whiplash from the Board’s flip-flop on the Audit Committee and the Financial Auditor position; whichever direction the Sanchez winds have blown have resulted in the Board majority going in the same direction. First they decided that the auditor should report to Sanchez and when this raised more controversy than anticipated, the argument became that there just was not enough money in the TUSD coffer to hire an auditor (this was Juarez’ justification for breaching his agreement with Mark Stegeman to hire the auditor); Adelita was worried about creating a watchdog (What part of independent auditor does she not understand?); then popular opinion and editorial opinion seemed to have convinced Sanchez that he had better do what was popular (since we know that doing what is right is not of concern to him); he then mysteriously found the money to fund the position but not before dislodging long-time members from the Audit Committee (for living outside of the District boundaries which came about in corruptly changing policy) and inserting Karla Soto and Adelita Grijalva as members.
Now, thanks to Sanchez, the word “independence” cannot honestly be applied to the Committee.
At the Committee level, Grijalva has recused herself from being involved in the hiring process for the Auditor but when she votes on the position at the Board
level, she is sure to look for someone who is not the “watch dog” type. With all of the trickeries that have taken place with the Audit Committee and with the Auditor position we have little faith that much of anything credible will result. It is Krystal clear that Sanchez and his three devotees do not want us to know what has taken place with the budget. With the transition from PeopleSoft to the Lawson system, who knows what data Sanchez and Soto have dropped or moved. One cannot follow the money when the money trail is covered-up.
Since last August many school budgets have been “swept” (which means that some of our budgets were cut) but since we have not had access to our budgets we do not know what exactly has been cut or “swept away”, as this administration has referred to it. Many positions in the schools have been frozen but the administration has layered more lipstick on the reality of this activity, as well. They tell us that there is “a hold” on the positions. Really, exactly where are the positions being held? And, what has happened to the funding associated with the “held” positions? The outcome is that we have not been allowed to hire allocated positions. Thus, our allocations were stripped. Again, because of the iron curtain that Sanchez has thrown on the budget- in general- and at the schools specifically, we do not know how many positions were frozen throughout the District during the school year. We do know that the imposed position freeze hurt our schools; hurt our teachers; hurt our students and hurt our communities.
Anyone who caught the June 2nd Board meeting learned that in addition to laying off over 800 substitutes, of which 414 were active substitutes during the 2014-15 SY, there are a number of proposed cuts in the budget for 2015-16. But since Sanchez and his minions reported general cuts within each broad budget category, the public is left without knowing what specifically is proposed to be cut from each category. How is the public expected to comment during the public comment portion of the budget approval process, if they have no idea on what is being done?
Note to Yousef Awaad: We commend you on your departure from TUSD and understand fully why you did not want to be any part of the shifty Sanchez shenanigans in his manipulation of tax dollars and Board members.
The Fruchthendler/Sabino Proposal; Technically a Fiasco
The court’s decision to deny TUSD’s proposed addition of 6th grade to Fruchthendler and 7th and 8th grade to Sabino went far beyond any type of technical error on behalf of TUSD, as Sanchez played during his media moments on this topic. We have reviewed the document and even had an attorney take a look at it. The court points out a number of failures in TUSD’s Notice and Request for Approval and the Request was denied in total. Had there been a slight technical error, the court would have said so and accepted the request in part, while directing the District to correct its technical error. The District is free to resubmit its request, however, the District will have to address each and every failure that was pointed out in the court order. Bottom line: Sanchez did not “technically” tell the truth about the court order; he lied. Many within TUSD say that if his lips are moving- he is lying, which seems to be a good truth to rely on when he is speaking.
More Fishy Stinge from the Fisher Agent- Gloria Copeland
We have made effort to report what we believe to be conflicts (legal and/or perceived) in both the working relationships and familial relationships that the Fisher agents have in being contracted by TUSD and representing the Fisher Plaintiffs- who are nowhere to be found- and have been absent from the case since the late 1970’s. We reported that one of the Fisher agents has family ties to a member of the Desegregation Implementation Committee that is headed up by the Special Master. The Court responded by basically informing Rubin Salter, attorney for the non-existing Fisher Plaintiffs, about the real prospect of making needed changes (and report those changes back to the court). As far as we know, Salter has not made any changes and the powerful nudge from the court has been ignored. The details of our concerns can be found at:
Meanwhile, with no resolution on the referenced issues to this point, Gloria Copeland and, to a lesser degree, Lorraine Richardson continue to get into the thick of TUSD administrative actions. Copeland specifically lobbies members of the administration to change or overturn disciplinary action. She has immersed herself in a number of discipline cases at Sabino High School, claiming that the recommended suspensions for several students were discriminatory but offering no evidence of discrimination. In some cases, some of the students did not self-identify as African American and some were unhappy with her involvement in their case. These type of facts are not relevant to her.
Most recently, Copeland engrossed herself in a suspension matter at Safford. After the suspension was upheld through the appeal process, Copeland made a couple of calls to 1010 and the suspension was capsized. We question why her lobbying efforts with central administrators has any impact at all on any issues, but particularly in the discipline area. She should have NO credibility on student issues. Two of her sons are felons; one is in prison for murder.
We once again question her role as a Fisher agent in grossly overstretching her involvement in individual student suspensions. More than this concern, however, we challenge those on Sanchez Leadership Team who are persuaded by her lopsided lobbying.
Cam Juarez’ Racist Comment During the June 2nd Board Meeting and Chuck McCullum’s Hypocritical & Insensitive Comment During Administrator Training
During the Board meeting of June 2nd, Juarez repeatedly had difficulty in clearly articulating words around statements that included the word “substitute.” He was stumbling over his words and could not find a way to self-correct because the mistake re-occurred several times. This happens to everyone on occasion and it’s not a big deal. However, after one such word-tangling episode he basically attributed his problem in articulating his words correctly to being Mexican American. At this point- it became a big deal. When we heard his comment, we all gasped. His negative stereo-typing is racist and if the same statement had been made by Stegeman or Hicks in reference to someone not being able to clearly articulate words based on being Mexican American, they would have never heard the end of it. But Grijalva just ignored the demeaning stereo-typing by Juarez. His statement and the Board President’s reaction signify how deep the problems are at the Board level. One Board member is ignorant enough to make a racist statement and the Board President selectively ignores the racist comment. Both Juarez and Grijalva have lost their right to proclaim themselves as advocates on Hispanic/Latino issues. They are a disgrace. This is incredibly unprofessional conduct and poor modeling for our youth. It portrays the worst of what a Governing Board can become or actually, has become!
During the week of June 1st some of us were subjected to another racially charged statement during training for administrators. In part, the training was to raise racial awareness and sensitivity. In one of his comments, Chuck McCullum, part of Secondary School Leadership, stated, ‘…I didn’t just get off the banana boat,’ which is a racist expression typically used to express that while “they (immigrants of color) are stupid; I am not.” The irony and overflowing hypocrisy of his statement was jolting.
Not one single administrator spoke up. We all know that if one goes up against leadership- they will be covertly penalized. Prior to the Sanchez regime, McCullum would have been confronted and corrected.
The Employment of an Assistant Principal Without a Hiring Process
During the last several months African American community leaders have been meeting with the administration and conveying their concerns while also offering solutions. One large area of concern is the lack of African American representation at the administrative level. On May 19th, several African American community leaders spoke during call to the audience at the Board meeting- once again reminding the administration of their responsibilities to serve African American students.
We have been told that in the days leading up to the Board meeting, Sanchez was growing restless as to why members of the African American community were going to be addressing the Board on May 19th. Since not a single of the administrative appointments had yet included an African American, in order to quickly squelch concerns, he added an appointment of an individual who is African American to the list of administrative appointments scheduled for action at the May 19thmeeting. It was added as item number 15th on the agenda. Sanchez, however, had no time to go through a credible hiring process. Despite the lack of a process, he made the recommendation to appoint Tyrone Cephers as an added assistant principal to Sahuaro High School. Sanchez justified the hire by saying that enrollment has increased at Sahuaro and an added assistant principal was needed. We do not believe enrollment has increased; nor do any of the high school principals who have commented on this hire. Sahuaro lost over 100 students from the 2013-14 school year to the 2014-15 school year in comparing 40th day enrollment; at the 100th day- the loss was 75 students. Stegeman and Hicks voted against the appointment for lack of a process.
Those who have criticized the District for its failure in hiring African American professionals into administrative positions are correct. But token or quota-hiring is dishonest on many levels and ultimately insulting to the African American community. It goes against EEO practices. It is insulting to the entire community to have different standards of hiring for various groups (family; African American, etc.) and it perpetuates terrible habits for TUSD.
Hours of Direct Services to Children in the Title I Program of PACE
Nothing shows understanding of child development and demonstrates compassion for children and parents, who are in greater need than most, than a full day per week cut in services for the population. (Forgive our sarcasm.)
Sanchez is proposing to cut one full day of services to children enrolled in the PACE program. No matter how TUSD pitches this deal, how much lipstick is slapped on the pig, or how this backward proposal makes it sound as though inclusion of special needs children is at focus- the fact is, services will be reduced for four year olds in the PACE program by one day (each day of service is 4 hours). Inclusion of special needs children is important to everyone but not at the expense of cutting back on services for another population. What TUSD has done here is pitted the needs of a special needs population against those of the children in the PACE program. This type of programmatic mutilation is unsound.
Certainly, there are early childhood education experts who can lend a hand to TUSD to figure out a service model that is of benefit to the populations under consideration and not a detriment to either. Some of them spoke at the May 19th board meeting.
TUSD’s PACE Program is nationally recognized. It is a model. Children and parents thrive from the Program’s offerings.
If TUSD is so very interested in an inclusion model, why hasn’t it addressed this issue District-wide and formulated policy which ensures the inclusion of special needs students in general education settings at every school? Why is it that special needs children suffer the most from the lack of hiring highly qualified teachers? Why is it that the lack of exceptional education substitutes and long-term substitutes consistently deprives special needs children of the required legal coverage? If Exceptional Education is so very important why did TUSD have one interim director after another in the position of director? Based on the answers to each of these questions, we know that TUSD cares little about inclusion and is using inclusion as a reason to move forward with a very poor plan. More funding will be funneled to TUSD through this mutilated model-We also know that many of the early childhood education experts have been fooled by this foolishness.
The Extreme Pettiness of a Former TUSD Administrator, Dr. Edith Isquierdo-Macklin
Manual Esquierdo and Edith Isquierdo-Macklin’s daughter just graduated from Tucson High Magnet School. She spoke during the ceremony, which was an honor and demonstration of her high school success. However, she was not the valedictorian. Because she spoke, her parents have aggressively campaigned to have her diploma reprinted to indicate that she was co-valedictorian. However, the actual valedictorian’s GPA is higher than the Isquierdo-Macklin student. Their aggressive manner is moving them closer and closer to having them get their way, which is unfair and unjust to the actual valedictorian and all future valedictorians. The sleazy maneuvering that these two adults have been involved in relative to their own employment (one at Sunnyside and the other at TUSD) is bad enough but to continue their antics on behalf of their child is disgraceful. It would be even more disgraceful if Sanchez caves in. Tucson High administration and faculty are watching carefully to see if 1010 will respond to sleaze with equal sleaze.
The Extreme Rudeness and Sarcasm Demonstrated by Grijalva, Foster and Juarez
Sanchez, Juarez, and Foster sit to the right of Board President Grijalva on the dais, while Stegeman and Hicks sit to her left. At the slightest gesture to ask to speak, those to her right are called upon immediately by Grijalva during Board meetings. Hicks and Stegeman are ignored. Adelita’s peripheral vision must be impaired on her left side. During the meeting of June 9th Hicks took the opportunity to explain the rationale behind his vote on an item, as it was time for him to vote. Grijalva cut him off. She told him to call her name, when he is not called uopon by a show of his hand. Really? Have we reached such a point of rudeness that she has minimized Board members to playing “mother may I?” Sanchez’ sarcasm in addressing Hicks continues to be humiliating. It is an insult to Hicks and to the position that Sanchez holds.
Our previous letters are easily found in Three Sonorans. We thank Three Sonorans for including each and every letter that we have written in their blog.
We also thank the Arizona Daily Independent and the Tucson Weekly for including some of our letters and/or referencing our letters in their blogs/articles.