To set the stage for today’s story, which includes the latest TUSD Whistleblowers article below, we first flash back to 2013 when HT Sanchez first took over TUSD. Utterback is an arts magnet school and thus had murals painted by students throughout the campus. However, when HT Sanchez first visited the school, he decided that what the students created had to go, and literally started whitewashing the school.
However, according to what our source told us, the letter sent out to parents on Friday is probably an approach to smooth out any potential protest from families and that what really occurred isn’t about the school needing a new coat of white paint, but that new TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez wasn’t too impressed with the artwork.
As a result, a crew came into the school last week and painted over some test areas on some of the smaller murals. When staff and students reacted negatively to the possible change, an online survey went out asking staff if they thought there was a mural worth saving or not. “The survey felt like a justification,” our source said.
Later in the week, during an assembly to explain to students what was going on, students reacted strongly—pounding their feet on the floor. Teachers, some of whom had talked to their students about what was going on, took heat for the failed and unruly assembly.
If the walls stay white for too long, several sources said to expect students to bring out the Sharpies.
The Arts magnet school had its trademark murals painted over. Utterback is also a performing arts magnet school, and the money it was promised to fix its stage, currently warped and being destroyed by a leaky roof, disappeared over the summer and no one knows where the money went. Multiple public information requests from multiple media sources still has yet to reveal an accounting of the magnet school monies at Utterback.
Utterback is also a dance magnet school and have zero dance teachers. This is all in violation of the Unitary Status Plan, aka the “Deseg Order,” that is mentioned in the video above, and also in the article below.
For a list of what TUSD was supposed to have done by November 1st, 2015, but has failed to do so, you can recall what the Federal Judge ordered here. Here is just a sample of federal court orders that HT Sanchez has ignored:
- The District shall proceed to fill all vacancies at each of the magnet schools (or programs) specifically referred to above by November 1, 2015;
- The District shall take steps to ensure that the schools or programs above remain fully staffed (as to certificated staff, administrators, and all teaching aids and other personnel identified in the Improvement Plan as contributing to the school’s effort to improve achievement and close the achievement gap between racial groups at the school) prior to the start of the 2016-17 school year;
- The District shall give its magnet schools and programs priority in the placing of teachers and certificated staff, such as during the spring hiring process. This priority shall include the opportunity for principals at these sites to have access to applicant lists at least 14 days prior to applicant information being made available to principals at non-magnet programs;
And with that, here is the latest Whistleblower letter which came out just in time for the video I created for you above. Despite what many may think, Three Sonorans is not part of the Whistleblower group, nor do we know any of its members (and we prefer it that way), however we know that they are always watching, and perhaps some change will come from having a watchdog group that is exposing the truth in TUSD.
Open 39th Letter- Today is a Remarkably DISGRACEFUL Day for TUSD- Utterback Parents Plea for Support While the Board Majority and HT Sanchez Continue to Destroy Magnet Schools
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
During the Board meeting of October 6th several parents from Utterback Magnet Middle School spoke during call to the audience with their children standing by their side. Parents grew emotional while describing the perpetual absence of teachers in their children’s classrooms due to long term vacancies; the deficiency of crossing guards; the prevalence of drugs on the campus; an open gate policy which allows students to leave the campus without permission during the school day; and a lack of management over student behavior which has created a dangerous environment for their children. Each parent demonstrated great stress to the point of tears. They asked why Utterback is being ignored and why some teaching positions have been left unfilled by a teacher for consecutive years with only substitutes in their place. One parent noted that the school also has facility problems such as the stage, which needs repair. As we listened to each of the parents our hearts broke.
David Morales also addressed the Board and reminded the Board of their obligations under the desegregation court order and stressed the obvious lack of compliance pertaining to magnet schools. Another speaker pointed out the escalation of vacant teacher positions under this administration and Board. She was admonished by Adelita Grijalva for stating, “you are a disgrace”. She merely spoke the truth. People who do disgraceful things are disgraceful. The Board majority and the Superintendent who lead them are DISGRACEFUL. It was wrong of Grijalva to attempt to once again gag a speaker for simply executing her right to speak the truth. Another speaker shared that Utterback was not the only magnet school suffering from lack of support in staffing its teaching positions and funding the school at the appropriate level. She mentioned Holladay Magnet School as another school on the south side that has been negatively impacted.
Utterback’s own Counselor spoke during call to the audience and shared that he had been called in by the administration and accused of organizing the parents to come forward and share their concerns. He stated that as the counselor he often has parents approach him with questions and he had made effort to find answers for the concerns that are surfaced. He went onto say that the situation at Utterback is very frustrating but that he believes that the problems can be resolved. He stated that he had spoken to HT Sanchez as well as to some Board members. He asked that Dr. Sanchez visit the school and really spent some time learning about what is going on. He voiced great concern for the students who are not being availed courses that are required to prepare them for high school and he too became emotional over the travesty that is occurring at Utterback. He was almost brought to tears. He noted that ‘this may be the last time’ he addresses the Board since he had already been called out by the administration and accused of “organizing” the parents, implying that he anticipates being terminated.
Board members then took the opportunity to address the comments that were made. Mark Stegeman said that he was very happy that the parents had come forward. Cam Juarez asked for an update of the situation from Sanchez, indicating that he is oblivious to the whole issue. Adelita assumed the same posture. Now, get ready for this: Kristel Foster said that she ‘has spoken with HT Sanchez’ and that they are jointly aware of the whole situation and that they know what is taking place (at Utterback). She said she knew what was happening at the school at least twice. Which of these is worse: Not having a clue about what is happening at a magnet middle school that the Board legally committed to staff and fully fund or actually knowing all about the situation and not doing a damn thing about it? We think both are DISGRACEFUL. We know that both “ignorance and ignoring” are hurting students at Utterback (and other magnet schools).
(Article continued below)
David Morales pointed out that during call to the audience HT Sanchez and Kristel Foster were absorbed in their laptops and said that it was very rude. Rude is one word. We say it is symptomatic of a much larger problem in TUSD and call it aloof.
It is a remarkably DISGRACEFUL day when Board members (Cam and Adelita) openly admit that they either know nothing about a school that is in crisis or that she (Kristel) knows all there is to know about what is taking place at Utterback, as shared with HT Sanchez during their conversations. We predict that HT Sanchez will provide a CYA report to the Board making one excuse after another for his failure to support Utterback. It will be yet one more DISGRACEFUL act upon the many he has already taken.
Remember, Robyn Dunbar, Utterback Principal, along with a handful of her magnet school principals stood before that Board last year and said that she was fully supported by Dr. Sanchez and his administration. Who do you think is telling the truth? The parents who spoke at the Board meeting or Dunbar? Utterback has not been supported. Look at its turn-over rate; look at the number of long-term substitutes and substitutes during the last three years; look at the number of new teacher who were hired last year and left at the end of the school year; take a hard look at its limited course offerings; take a look at how many courses have been folded from 3 to 1; look at the fine arts offerings- which have also been cut based on the District’s failure to hire teachers for the program.
Students such as the ones at Utterback are being cheated of an education. The school’s staff is demoralized and the parents are desperate for resolution NOW!
Meanwhile, where does HT and his team focus their attention. They put on well rehearsed magnet school updates for the Board but direct principals to present ONLY the positive. Omission is a form of lying. In TUSD lying by the HT Sanchez administration has become common practice.
HT Sanchez and his mind-control public relations side-kick, Steffanie Boe, are now mandating that their Pollyanna-propaganda videos be viewed during Wednesday-professional-development. The videos are high-tech CYA snippets produced in an effort to layer saccharin over a pile of manure. Do they not understand that most of us see and smell B(oe) and S(anchez) for what it is. The videos are a waste of our time, an insult to our intelligence, and more waste of tax payer money.
TUSD has never been in worse shape. We are in CRISIS!
- Leadership is non-existent.
- Morale is terrible’ at an all time low.
- Fear of retaliation is rampant.
- Teacher and administrative turn-over is over-the-top and highest it has ever been.
- Recruitment and retention efforts are obvious failures.
- TEA is in collusion with the current administration and has abandoned their mission.
- Cronyism is thriving under the Sanchez regime; he hires and promotes based on personal alliances and not on competency.
- Sexual misconduct is modeled from the top and has spread to many schools by site administrators. Because of this many employees have been and are subjected to a hostile work environment.
- The budget and its various Sanchez/Soto processes have made it a total mystery.
- Transparency is non-existent.
- Nastiness and rudeness have become common practice at Board meetings by the Superintendent and the Board majority. This behavior is mirrored by many top administrators.
- Safety at our schools has become more and more compromised due to the confusion and contradictions which have been created by Sanchez and his “team” pertaining to discipline.
- Many schools are in crisis, while principals are ordered to stand up before the Board and put on a happy face.
- The Board majority and the HT Sanchez regime have NO credibility.
We agree with the Utterback Counselor who spoke out. It is tremendously frustrating! We all feel the pain. However, we all believe that the situation is salvageable. But NOT with this Superintendent and NOT with this Board majority.
Please read the following column by Tim Steller which amply covers what else took place at the October 6th Board meeting. http://tucson.com/news/local/columnists/steller/political-notebook-tusd-board-battle-is-a-race-gone-wild/article_ec03087c-488f-5b59-8381-c9b02ba76537.html
The current Board majority bloc must be broken. Vote out Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez. Get involved in supporting the other candidates who are running. We have announced our endorsements but encourage you to do your own research and support three of the five remaining candidates who you believe genuinely have the best interest of our students at heart. Donate to the campaigns you choose; volunteer your time; and get out and vote! If you missed our endorsement:
Please consider donating to TUSD Kids First @ http://tusdkidsfirst.org/Donate.aspx
(Disclosure- our group has never interfaced with anyone from Tucson Kids First.)
The group put this statement out: “An Open Letter to the Teachers of TUSD:
“TUSD Kids First respectfully asks that you donate to help CHANGE THE BOARD. All individual donations of $25 or less (aggregated amount) are not required to be disclosed by donor and may well help improve your teaching environment. We ask that you consider the following:
- The District “Balanced its Books with Money Intended for Teachers” (reported by Tim Steller in the 9/30/2016 AZ Daily Star.)
2. Compared to other large districts TUSD is overspending on administration costs by over $11M, money that belongs in your classrooms (numbers from the Fiscal Year 2015 AZ Auditor General).
3. The District will pillory anyone to stay in power. As shown in TUSD’s 9/30/16 “Open Letter to the Community,” the District will openly discuss your personnel records.
Donate your confidential $20 now! It is time to show your desire that TUSD put Teachers and Kids First by increasing classroom dollars and provide safe working conditions for you, our hard-working teachers.”
Kristel Foster has recently stated that Tucson Kids First has raised nearly $40,000 and criticized the group for this, saying that there must be something in it for them with the large amount of money they have raised. The money raised by TUSD Kids First is local, unlike the more than $40,000 that Adelita Grijalva raised when she ran to regain her seat. Her funding came from many of her dad’s Washington connections, inclusive of lobbyist money. If Kristel has a logical gene in that mean body of hers, we ask: What was in it for Adelita Grijalva, the person whose directives you follow at every turn along with those issued by HT Sanchez? Hum? Does Kristel Foster think that she can just throw out her mean-girl jabs without any accountability? It would genuinely benefit our community if Kristel were to lose her bid for re-election and head back home, north to Aurora, Colorado, where she can once again assimilate into her privileged white-female reality instead of constantly deluding herself into believing that she is a Mexicana. It is offensive to everyone but especially to Tucson Latinas. Perhaps some identity counseling would speed up the process.
A spouse of one of our members is on her late shift rotation at a local hospital and witnessed someone taking down Tucson Kids First signs in the middle of the night. She was not able to get a license number and could not catch up with the vehicle once the driver became aware that she was being followed. The vehicle driven by the sign-snatcher was a rust-colored SUV. At least 8 signs were lifted by the thief who threw the signs in her vehicle and then sped off to escape being caught. This is not fair play. It is just more of the standard TUSD bullying that is prevalent throughout our District.
Thanks to Three Sonorans for publishing every single one of our letters! 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/