TSON News | Whistleblowers announce their endorsements for TUSD board

Whistleblowers announce their endorsements for TUSD board

Open 38th Letter- Whistleblower’s TUSD Governing Board Candidate Condemnations and Endorsements

From:  Whistleblowers– Comprised of a Large Group of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers (welcoming new teachers!), Retired Administrators and Teachers, Parents, Grandparents- Growing with Each and Every Letter

We have researched and listened to each of the TUSD Governing Board Candidates.

Our absolute:


It should not be of any shock to you that from the start of our endorsement process Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez did not even make the first cut. Based on their broken campaign promises from four years ago and their rubber-stamp actions during their term, we believe that they have let the community down. We strongly encourage individuals to replace them with Board members who will be fully engaged in their governance roles in a transparent and ethical manner.

They have neglected their duties as TUSD Governing Board members by failing to thoroughly review agenda items before acting on them in rubber-stamp fashion. They have never fact-checked the many lies that HT Sanchez has provided to them. They have made it more

Foster and Juarez both take credit for some of the progress that has been made due to the desegregation court order while all along criticizing the Unitary Status Plan (USP), the plaintiffs, the Special Master and the Court. They never credit the USP. It is hypocrisy at its peak. They have had nothing to do with any progress made in the area of desegregation and we contend that many of the magnet schools remain neglected while these two Board members believe all the excuses offered to them by their subordinate, HT. If the Board had directed the Superintendent to implement the USP and made it a significant part of his evaluation either HT Sanchez would have done as directed or high-tailed back to Texas.

There has been no follow-up to the Efficiency Audit recommendations. Our curricula remains incomplete while we pay consultants to do what TUSD professionals should be doing in the area curriculum and implementation. And…even if we had the best curricula in the nation, with such an abundance of vacancies and long-term or revolving-door substitutes, the curricula would serve no real purpose. TUSD has lost an abundance of highly qualified certificated teachers due to the lack of direct support to the classroom. Many of our teachers who have been hired haveemergency teaching certificates, such as Stefanie Boe’s husband, Bradley Boe (she is the Communication, Public Relations Director and used her “influence” to get him hired). He got his job based only on who he sleeps with and not on his experience or education. Cronyism is alive and well in TUSD, thanks to the best good ol’ boy of all- HT Sanchez and his rubber-stampers.

Stefanie Boe spends more of her time promoting Sanchez than promoting schools or classrooms. When she does promote schools, such as the series of magnet school theatrics that have been orchestrated for Board meeting presentations, it is only “push-back” to the reality of the situation. Those of us at magnet schools know that we still do not have the basic things needed to have truly successful magnet schools. Most of our schools still have several critical teacher vacancies and our counselors and magnet coordinators are being forced to act as substitutes instead of perform the support functions that are desperately needed. But the pressure from 1010 to LIE to the public is enormous and the scripted magnet school performances in front of the Board are nothing but a false presentation of what is happening at the schools. These presentations do not give the Board and the public all of the facts. Has anyone else noticed the state of “interim” status which exists for so many administrative positions? All of this is attributed to a Board majority which does not pay attention and obviously doesn’t care.

Foster and Juarez have been dreadful Board members and they need to be ousted. Both are part of the Grijalva machine which has tied them into the Tucson Democratic machine; a machine that in the case of TUSD is not serving its students. (Our group is largely comprised of Democrats so our criticism is not partisan.) Cam and Kristel do not serve our school communities. Both have had aspirations to run for higher office. No, this is not a joke.Foster’s and Cam’s ethics have been questioned many times but their most recent acceptance of a $5,000 campaign contribution to each of their campaigns from a TUSD contractor who was awarded a $21,000,000 contract should be more than enough evidence to show the depth of corruption that is now at play within TUSD. They each are part of the problem and not anywhere near the solutions.   In November there is an opportunity for our community to change the TUSD Board. We ask that each of you speak with your peers, family members, neighbors and strongly encourage them to vote for the following candidates.

Whistleblower Endorsements-

We have selected those who we believe will be thepositive change-makersduring the next four years:

Betts Putman-Hidalgo has familiarized herself with TUSD in numerous ways. She is a parent of a TUSD student who has attended magnet schools and she has been involved in each of her son’s schools as he has matriculated from elementary to high school. For several years she has attended Governing Board meetings and has provided dozens of comments during the audience comment section of the agenda. She has also served on a number of TUSD committees. She researches issues and reads the contents of each Board agenda packet as a matter of habit which is noticeable in her comments to the Board or in her many commentaries through social media. Betts has consistently pushed for the District’s full implementation of its 40 year desegregation court order. This is Betts’ third attempt for a TUSD Board seat and we believe that this time one of the seats will be hers. In particular, we hope she unseats Foster, while recognizing that it is not a particular board seat that is sought by non-incumbents. It is just a nice vision of Betts taking the place of woman whose main function on the Board has been to say “yes” to anything brought forward by HT Sanchez.

Betts has no aspirations to hold any other elected position. Betts’ third campaign has been much stronger than the last two. She is depending largely on her walking of neighborhoods to get her message out. We value this but believe that some 21stCentury strategies may guarantee her win. We believe Betts will deliver on her promises because they are her passion.

We also hope that Betts will listen more than she speaks. She has improved in this arena since her first run. She has said that she will work with all Board members and it will be important that she keep this promise. Sometimes Betts believes that her viewpoint is the only viewpoint that should be considered and she has a tendency to talk over people as she hammers her viewpoint across. This habit needs to be left behind her if she is elected. And whether male or female, shorts and T-shirts are not part of the garb for TUSD events.

Brett Rustand

Brett also is a father of four, with a fifth child on the way, and a TUSD parent with his older children in schools now and his younger children soon to become TUSD students.  He attended TUSD schools throughout his K-12 grade experience. He is new on the scene to TUSD politics and has spent the last several months meeting with dozens upon dozens of individuals who have been or are involved with TUSD.

He has attended Board meetings over the last several months and has researched many of the critical issues which have placed TUSD in its ongoing negative headline mode (discipline, compensation of Superintendent, teacher increases, desegregation, discipline, TUSD budget, etc.).

(Article continued below)

Brett has no aspirations to hold any other elected position. He says he wants to fix TUSD and as of now, we take him at his word. We believe that he wants to provide vision and leadership to an institution which is sorely lacking in both.

We hope that he will continue to meet with a diverse representation of individuals from throughout the District and that his listening skills will be as good after he is elected as they have been these last few months. We see Brett as a total school and teacher advocate and want him to remember that TUSD is a UNIFIED district and that schools which are independent onto their own with little connection or consistency with other schools are called charter schools. We want our unified school district to be connected and work better together. We want to see more partnerships between our schools; more sharing; collaboration; and more central leadership which facilitates these things. For years we have had schools with leadership who seem to believe they are islands and which are treated as though they are royalty. We want all schools to be treated with respect and to be supported to the level required. We are counting on Brett to bring about the change needed on behalf of students.

Political rumors have spread that Brett was actually recruited to run by Sanchez through their mutual Southern Arizona Leadership Council (SALC) ties. The rumored scheme is that Brett is to replace Mark Stegeman, which is why Foster has gone on the “nasty-girl” attack on Stegeman at the candidate forums. We know that Sanchez was successful in promoting Kristel Foster to serve on SALC, so we became concerned and have spoken to many, many individuals about this. Brett has several individuals who have endorsed him and Kristel, which became one of our points of concern. (Brett’s own campaign Treasurer has funded her campaign with a $300 contribution; Marybelle McCorkle is “networking” and promoting them both.) Yes, the rumors are reason for concern. But in speaking to those close to Brett we have learned that he has no ties or allegiance to maintaining a Board bloc to support Sanchez. He is independent; not tied to any other TUSD Board member or Board candidate. We see Brett as one of best bets for the Board. His commitments have become part of the public record and it will be up to the community to hold him to his promises.

Because of Brett’s lineage in Tucson, he is well connected politically and has developed a strong campaign.

Rachael Sedgwick

Rachael, like Brett is new on the TUSD politics scene and has had no immediate ties to TUSD, although she knows several teachers and parents.

Rachael has attended Board meetings and conducted a great deal of research on TUSD’s desegregation court order and several studies/audits that have been completed. She recognizes the lack of follow-through in adhering to the court order and following the recommendations which have been provided through the various studies. She has served as a teacher and principal and is currently serving as a children’s advocate through the University of Arizona Family Law Clinic.

Unlike Betts who has learned the ropes of a campaign into her third run and Brett whose lineage has offered political connections to him during his run, Rachael is new to the Tucson political world. Nonetheless, she is working frantically with her supporters to win one of the three seats which are open. We support her because she came out boldly in support of schools, teachers and desegregation and we also feel her passion for doing what is right for TUSD children.

Her campaign, although not as strong as Betts or Brett, is viable.

All three of our endorsees understand that the desegregation order must be followed; that discipline is a critical issue that must be managed immediately; that the Board sets the priorities for the District through the establishment of good policy and the adoption of a sound budget. They also recognize that while there are many good things going on in our schools, the Governing Board has lost touch with the importance of transparency and accountability and therefore have failed at both.

We believe that Lori Riegal is a strong candidate on many issues but is running a not-so-good campaign (her signs are barely legible). We hope that she will run again as Betts is doing now with greater knowledge in the area of campaigning and TUSD issues. During the last few months we have seen her expand her knowledge base about TUSD greatly. Initially, she was stuck in a one dimensional University High perspective and although she has expanded her vantage point, we fear that Lori would be part of a bloc to “give” UHS their own campus, which would require hiring a full complement of staff to have it become a “comprehensive” high school. The expense of moving the school into a suitable facility would also be extremely expense and would result in supporting one school over supporting the capital needs many other schools. Most importantly, the UHS/separatist movement, which has been underway since it was “special projects,” would set TUSD back decades. We support the concept of advanced learning programs but we do not believe that it is intellectually or socially healthy to convey to parents or students that really smart should be isolated away from the mainstream of other students.

If for some reason you feel that you cannot vote for one of the three whom we have endorsed, Lori is a fair alternative. With few weeks left before the election we still see little activity from her campaign. Maybe she will pull a rabbit out of her hat.

There has been a great deal of debate over Mark Stegeman during our endorsement process. Half of our group voted to endorse him while half did not. The group who voted against endorsing Mark convinced us all that we could not carry on as though the manner in which the Mexican American Studies issue was handled by the Board and his subordinate, Dr. Pedicone, was acceptable. It was anything but acceptable. TUSD mishandled the entire situation and fueled hatred within our larger community. We are not arguing that MAS was perfect because we know that it was not, however, MAS became the punching bag for racists in Tucson, the state and the entire country. The Board fueled these sentiments by its gross mishandling of the situation. Many of our teachers were villainized and many of our students were mistreated. What Board fuels these type of actions? John Pedicone and Martha Durkin militarized TUSD during this period. Racial lines were drawn that have never been erased.

Mexican American culturally relevant pedagogy, part of the court order, could have gone a long way to erase the line during the last three years. Instead, TUSD’s support of the CRC courses has been minimal. We at the high schools know exactly how little has been done in the area of recruitment, both for CRC teachers and students. We also know that some of high school principals have not been supportive of CRC courses in their buildings and that their lack of support has been accepted by Sanchez and Abel Morado.

We are aware that Mark actually has supported the USP and CRC during the last 2-3 years. He says it is the law. Hum? We have to question what he would do if there were no court order or if he were once again in the majority. We also believe that Mark has not effectively informed the public about the many minority Board positions that he and Mike Hicks have taken in opposing ludicrous actions taken by the Board majority. Had he done so more effectively, the public would have a sound track record of action after action which have not been of benefit to students and the District. To some degree he has done this but it has been sporadic. He says that he requests information from the Superintendent and that he receives delayed or no responses. Where is the list of requests, by date and why did he not have a press conference every time the list hit 10 requests with no responses?

Ultimately, the choice is left to each TUSD resident to vote for the candidates who they believe will do the best job as TUSD Board members. Please do not be persuaded to vote for candidates based solely on your political affiliation or on meaningless endorsements.

It is important that you vote and that you encourage everyone you know to vote!


We continue to be grateful to Three Sonorans for publishing every single one of our letters and for exposing the campaign contributions discussed above. We appreciate greatly that the Arizona Daily Independent publishes many of our letters and/or references them within their own posts, from time to time. Additionally, continue to acknowledge an organization that is also working very hard to expose the facts about TUSD: TUSDKidsFirst, which also has made reference to our letters, which we appreciate. Check the organization out at: http://tusdkidsfirst.org/


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10 comments on “Whistleblowers announce their endorsements for TUSD board
  1. Love Three Sonorans. They’re as dreadful as the the community. This stupid site faults Stegeman for not informing the community about the board members’ malfeasance. A) Stegeman didn’t elect Foster and Juarez. B) he can’t care more about the children and schools than the parents in the community who have children at TUSD.

    Where does Three Sonorans get off at?

    In their make believe world, the community is the victim of HT Sanchez and the Governing Board. In the real world, that cop that pulls these kids over, maybe by racially profiling them, won’t ask them if their school district was well funded.

    That cop doesn’t care! Life doesn’t care. Bad kids are raised by bad parents, NOT bad school districts.

    The community gets what it votes in and it’s been voting in trash.

    • I have posted endorsements from the Whistleblowers and TUSDKidsFirst, that doesn’t mean they reflect my own views. I do promote dialogue and discussion, which is what you are able to do here.

  2. I’m astonished at the claim that Lori Riegel was stuck in a Uni High has to have its own campus perspective. I’ve never heard her take that position. It seems to me that comment is coming from a bias against a mom whose daughter graduated from University High. Lori Riegel is the chairman of TUSD’s Technology Oversight Committee. Under her chairmanship, staff is actually bringing all technology recommendations before the TOC, before taking them before the Governing Board. Prior to Lori, staff ignored the existence of TOC. She is also on the Board of EEF, tutors children in foster care and in many other ways has demonstrated her long time commitment to all children. She is a member of the group that makes lunches for University High students who skip lunch rather than have other students know they are on free and reduced lunch.

    Lori was also one of the 3 mothers who organized and ran the Focus on the Future event that TUSD allowed to be held on one of its campuses. Focus on the Future showed families, especially 1st generation college families, how to get money for their students’ higher education. Single parents, like Lori, have a particularly hard time getting money, because the student’s other parent’s income is counted against them, even if the other parent has never contributed child support and their whereabouts are unknown. Focus on the Future showed single parents how to knock those barriers down!

    Furthermore, Lori generously invited the other insurgent Board candidates to come to the event to meet and greet the parents who attended the event. .

    Lori has read the TEA contract and can tell you exactly where the changes were made that put counselors, nurses, and social workers on a new salary schedule that pays $800 less than their prior salary schedule. On the other hand, Brett Rustand, hasn’t read the contract and not knowing the changes were in the TEA contract, thought bus drivers also had their pay cut.

    For folks who are uncomfortable with the idea of any expansion of University High, keep in mind that Brett’s TKF endorsement was predicated on an expansion of University High. Unlike Brett Rostand, Lori Riegel has been actively involved in TUSD every since her daughter started school in the district.

    It’s unfortunate the Whistle Blowers were uninformed about Lori Riegel’s positions and accomplishments. She would be an even greater asset to TUSD on the TUSD Board.

  3. Lori- aka Lillian- during the forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, I thought I heard Lori explicitly support a UHS type middle school as well as the movement of UHS to another campus. She complained about ceiling tiles falling on the heads of students. She did add some concern about the access Rincon students would have to performing arts if UHS were to disappear from the campus but that was a brief trail to her response on UHS. Mark Stegeman has often said that Lori, if elected, would support the UHS clone middle school and the expansion of UHS and I also think that Lori has given these type of responses to UHS parents and rotary club members.

    Additionally, how in the hell did Betts get the endorsement by TKF if it was predicated on an “expansion” of University High by moving it to its own exclusive site? Betts would not have agreed to this and if she did this should be made public.

    I think the Whistleblowers along with everyone else that is paying attention to the Board election wants to get rid of a Board bloc and not create another one. The Whistleblowers gave indication of their concerns and maybe there will be opportunity for Brett to better define his opinion on UHS and a clone middle school. What I would like to hear from Mark, Lori and Brett (if Brett truly supports giving UHS its own facility), along with anyone else who might go along with the UHS “expansion” plan, is how the expansion would be funded.

    The reason that some of the kids at UHS who qualify for free or reduced lunch do not access this benefit is because of the shame that is imposed on many of the students by wealthy, elitist students. It is a form of bullying that is more harmful that a punch. No one wants to talk about the social class divisions at UHS but they are quite obvious. UHS needs to be more inclusive of middle and low income students. I teach at UHS and I am not an advocate of having UHS on its own campus. It will further reinforce the misplaced notion that highly intelligent humans need to segregate themselves from the masses. This idea is not one that belongs in our public schools. It is shameful that our top TUSD educator, HT Sanchez, has supported this idea to many of our parents.

    The UHS facility does need a lot of repair but work orders have been delayed with the hope that a separate campus is on the horizon. The school should be repaired now and the idea to move to a segregated school should be abandoned.

    The community should know that a group of UHS parents have actually been fundraising to move the school to its own campus. Before the election I would like to know the legality of this type of fundraising and I would like to know how much has been raised and by whom.

    Finally, if Lori needs to and wants to comment here or anywhere else, it is just fine but she should do it in her own name.

    For teachers who have become increasingly fearful of speaking out, it has been a blessing for Three Sonorans to post the videos of the candidate forums. The biggest blessing over the last three Sanchez years has been to have the Whistleblowers take up the cause for students, parents, teachers and site administrators. It is really disingenuous for Lillian/Lori to take a hit at them for not endorsing Lori. Lori needs to go on the record and state that she does NOT favor moving UHS to its own campus and this should happen sooner than later. It will bring her votes that she has lost so far based on her responses.

  4. Anyone who thinks that Lori Riegel is not a die-hard UHS separate-site advocate is misinformed. She is not just a UHS parent, she is a UHS graduate, and she has relationships the go back decades with the two elitist members of the faculty who are the ringleaders of the separate site movement (Hosmer and Karlowicz). She has also been a friend of Stegeman’s for quite a while, long before she started this board campaign. The people backing her have strategically placed her in various positions (TUSD EEF Board, TUSD Technology Committee, Focus on the Future program) from which she can appear to have an interest in the district and not just in UHS, and they have made every effort to cloak her actual relationships with Stegeman and UHS separate site ringleaders. (Do you know who the “two other moms” she worked with in the College Counseling (Focus on the Future) program were? Former UHS Foundation board members who started the program at UHS and then became interested in shopping it to TUSD central as part of their campaign to endear themselves to the administration, who they hope will grant UHS a separate site.)

    The commenter above did not understand what Lori Riegel said at the League of Women Voters Forum about fine arts and athletics and the UHS separate site question. When she talked about access to fine arts and athletics, she was talking about UHS students’ access to fine arts and athletics, not Rincon students’ access to these benefits. That was immediately apparent to anyone who has heard UHS-internal discussions of the separate site proposal. There are UHS parents who like the fine arts and athletics programs at Rincon-UHS who oppose moving UHS to a separate site because their students would lose access to those programs. What Riegel was saying to the UHS-affiliates in the room at that forum (and there were many of them) was “Don’t worry, UHS parents, you won’t even lose fine arts and athletics because we’ll find some way to provide those to you on a separate site.”

    The real question an integrationist would ask is what will happen to Rincon students’ ability to benefit from the opportunity to enroll in UHS AP classes when UHS “removes itself” to its own facility. But Riegel didn’t consider that question in her forum answer, because it’s not on her view screen. When Stegeman said in the League forum that any combination of candidates elected other than the two incumbents would create a majority on the separate site issue, he may have been correct. Putnam-Hidalgo is the only candidate who can be trusted to oppose UHS-separate-site. If Sedgwick supports desegregation as much as she seems to, she might oppose it, once she really understands what an elitist, anti-integrationist plan it is.

    Brett Rustand is a SALC-selected and SALC-backed candidate. He is also a Fruchthendler parent (like HT Sanchez and Jen Darland) and a supporter of both UHS-separate-site and Fruchthendler-Sabino pipeline. Both of these proposals are anti-integrationist, “keep the white kids from fleeing TUSD by giving them what they want” proposals.

    It is shameful and sad the degree to which some of these candidates are pulling the wool over the eyes of even some of the most concerned social justice advocates in the district. Deliberately creating false impressions among your constituency is NOT the right way to start off your relationship with a district this troubled and this much in need of honest leaders who support the common good. The district does NOT need leaders who are angling to get themselves in positions of public responsibility so they can forward the good of certain groups within the district at the expense of the good of all the students.

    Bottom line: both Riegel and Rustand should come clean with the public about what their real affiliations and commitments are. Next time you have the opportunity to talk with them, ask them for some straight talk about UHS, Fruchthendler-Sabino, and SALC. Get them to put it into writing on a survey, if you can, like TKF Kids First did with their candidates. It’s a good strategy because what they say in writing on a survey is something they can be held accountable to when they get into office and start making policy decisions for the district.

    • @Get it right
      You say Rustand is a “SALC/Fruchthendler-backed” candidate. How do you know?

    • All I can say is wow! Try talking to Lori instead of relying on stereotypes. Were you ever a teenager? I taught teenagers and I was one a very long time ago! I am sure there are teenagers in all the other schools who skip lunch rather than have people find out they are on free and reduced lunch. Lori and some other people at University High cared enough to provide lunches for those kids. To me that shows that Lori
      is elite.

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