Whistleblowers respond to Ochoa community critiques

We grant our permission to publish this letter and to distribute it widely.

Open 48.5th  Letter

From:  Whistleblowers– Comprised of a Large Group of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers, Retired Administrators and Parents, Grandparents

 

Topics: Response to Gloria Hamelitz’ Comment to Our 48thLetter

 

We now have more than a solid fifty of us imbedded within TUSD and involved in the Whistleblower project that began 48 letters ago. We are spread throughout the District, which is probably obvious from the information that we have exposed/shared. All of us have numerous contacts (friends, family, peers, associates, etc.) within TUSD who, through shared facts & data and multiple conversations, help us compile a great deal of information. We also have several well informed parents and volunteers who assist us with research and dissemination of our letters. Our information base is impressive due our own first-hand information along with the many credible sources just mentioned. We have grown and we have solidified over the last three years.

 

We know that through the exposure of information we have pushed a lot of buttons and have received some criticism in response to a particular letter or specific topic that we have addressed. However, our letters have brought about awareness and change. For example, in our last letter we exposed the specific familial relationship that Ricky Hernandez, Audit Committee Chairperson, has within TUSD and based on his overt conflict, we stated that his immediate resignation was in order. During the Board meeting of January 31st, HT Sanchez announced that Hernandez has resigned from the Committee. Connecting and exposing corrupt dots sometimes eliminates them.

 

Some of us have been suspected by the administration of being involved with the TUSD Whistleblowers but none of our identities have ever been compromised or revealed. This has taken an incredible amount of precaution and work on our behalf. All for very good reason. Most who work for TUSD have come to understand the retaliatory environment that HT Sanchez has created. Employees at all levels of the organization express their fear in voicing their concerns. This includes members of HT’s central team.

Yet, Sanchez himself along with his two hanging-on by their nails Board members criticize us most for our anonymity. Behind them they have their so-called supporters who echo their sentiments. Everyone else in the TUSD sphere seems to understand that our survival depends on remaining annonymous. We are still here and we can attribute this only to our anonymity and the reality that more and more people are reading our letters because they recognize the truth about TUSD within our letters. (Thank you!)

 

After each letter we hear the responses at our schools, our departments, our 1010 offices, our social functions, etc. We have read comments on Facebook or in various blogs. The overwhelming amount of feedback has been positive. The criticism we have heard has had to do with giving Adelita Grijalva, Cam Juarez and Kristel Foster and their hero, HT Sanchez, a very bitter taste of their own medicine, which has meant that we have personalized our criticism of each of them. Each of them have time and time again attacked individuals on a personal basis and our bounce-back treatment has seen results.  Each of them is pretty thin-skinned and they do not like the taste of their own medicine. Many say the medication is working because Foster’s and Grijalva’s mean behavior is toning down.

Due to the new Board and constant exposure of Sanchez’ ineptness, he must recognize that he needs to vacate his position. The other criticism we hear is repeated most from Sanchez, Foster, Grijalva, and Juarez. It is that our letters have remained annonymous, as if most do not understand the reason for having to remain without disclosure of identities. (Let us remind everyone of our disclosure that Sanchez had his first annonymous group make concerted effort to expose his retaliatory nature in the last school district he failed to serve in Texas.)

 

Some of us have heard HT Sanchez’ reactions to our letters first hand. After our first few letters he was convinced that he was going to investigate us, catch us, reveal us, and fire us. We went into this project knowing that we would have to remain annonymous in order to obtain information, expose information, and prevent retribution. Sanchez’ treatment of those who do not agree with him or those who are not loyal to him has validated our decision several times.  

 

One individual who agrees with Sanchez, Foster, Grijalva and Juarez on our anonymity took to her Facebook page along with commenting on Three Sonorans in response to our 48thletter. In her post she has tried very hard to condemn us and what we had to say about Ochoa losing its magnet status. She has criticized us MOST for concealing who is behind our group. Her name is Gloria Hamelitz. She is the Director of the John Valenzuela Youth Center in South Tucson and she is strongly tied to Danny Eckstrom, Raul Grijalva along, with their mesh of connections, including Cam Juarez, Adelita Grijalva and tag-along Kristel Foster. You can read her comment on her FB or as a comment posted @ https://threesonorans.com/2017/01/22/whistleblowers-ochoa-pueblo-prop-301-anti-maldef-kristel-and-audits/

 

Many in our group know Gloria and have, to this point, respected her and her work with youth in our community and for some of us, within our immediate community. Her slam on us has adjusted several of our opinions because her criticism is almost fully based on false or sorely lacking information. She has not only guzzled the HT Sanchez Kool-Aid by the gallon, but she has offered up the beverage to all of her FB friends and Three Sonorans readers. Her less than sophisticated attack included words such as “truly ridiculous” “downright garbage”, “filled with lies and complete bullshit.” Yet, her slam never uttered any valid counter points, data or facts. Here, we respond to her in an effort to shed more light on a web of political patronage that continues to seek power and authority over TUSD decisions.

 

Gloria says that the Whistleblowers “targeted” Ochoa. NO. Several times we have addressed the USP, the lack of support provided to magnet schools and particularly pointed out the lack of support provided to Ochoa and Utterback. This behavior is referred to as ADVOCACY not “targeting.” Gloria says the school has been neglected by the District and that “after years of fighting and organizing it has now been transformed” but she provides no evidence of what the transformation looks like or even gives a hint of its validated results. It all sounds like “feel-good fluff”, which educators have learned is not sufficient to teach children.

We do agree with Gloria that the school has been neglected by TUSD, however, our stance is that HT Sanchez is the point person for the last three and half years of neglect. Exactly what “fighting and organizing” is Gloria referring to when she speaks of these actions in supporting Ochoa? Befriending and politically supporting a superintendent and Board majority who were willing to CUT more than $50,000 from Ochoa’s budget last year is NOT a good result from the “fighting and organizing” which she proudly claims.

The funding was reinstated only due to the desegregation oversight that is in place. Or how about the lack of staffing (too many substitutes) and three consecutive years of principal changes resulting in an interim principal for this entire school year? These type of facts have repeatedly been denied by those involved in “organizing and fighting” for Ochoa since Sanchez arrived. Our detractor refers to our letter as a “false report” and asks what is behind it.

From what we have been able to gather- all TUSD data and TUSD reports on Ochoa indicate severe academic problems. In fact, Ochoa’s own magnet improvement plan reveals great academic weaknesses. Is our criticizer making claim that Ochoa’s own submitted documents are filled with lies? 

Gloria asks if the Whistleblowers are upset that the community is organized. We urge all school communities to organize and advocate for their schools. Thus, the answer is: NO, we are not upset.


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We are, however, disappointed that two of Ochoa’s most visible “fighters and organizers” (Brian Flagg and Cesar Aguirre) have not challenged the institution that has neglected Ochoa. Instead they continuously bequeath Sanchez and the former Board majority with accolades. For them it is about patronage politics and not the students.

 

Our detractor goes on to ask if we are “pissed” that brown beautiful students are getting an “amazing education” but she provides no evidence of how she has determined that Ochoa students are getting an “amazing education”.

There is no such evidence. For the record, many of us work with “brown” kids and many of us are “brown” and believe that her attack-question was the first card (race) played by Gloria. This tactic lacks as much substance as the use of words such as “truly ridiculous” “downright garbage”, “filled with lies and complete bullshit” which are found in Gloria’s response to our letter. It also exposes her own prejudgment about our group, typically referenced as prejudice.

 

Gloria totally defends Flagg and Aguirre against our position that they have spearheaded and influenced HT Sanchez and the former Board majority into making decisions that have NOT been in the best interest of Ochoa. It is not only our perception that they organize most of the activities involving parent attendance at meetings such as Board meetings, community forums for school board candidates, meetings on desegregation, but it is the perception of the parents themselves (Gloria seems to be one of exceptions.).

See- many of us do talk to former and current Ochoa teachers, former and current Ochoa parents, and Ochoa community members. We wonder why Gloria would assume that none of us work at Ochoa (or have worked at Ochoa) or live in South Tucson. It is an assumption that lacks the sophistication already exposed. Does she truly believe that ALL impressions about Ochoa and South Tucson are confined to her immediate circle? Does she not question why so many teachers and parents have bolted out of Ochoa? It has nothing to do with the students but with the disarray of the school due to lack of leadership, staffing and oversight; in other words- neglect.  She says we went on a tirade. No, we wrote a letter to expose the facts, which is not a tirade. She also alleges that we “don’t run shit.” She is right. We don’t run it and don’t want to run it. On the other hand, this is what Flagg’s and Aguirre’s interest is all about- a grab for power on behalf of their political patróns.

 

In her post Gloria does admit that the leadership at Ochoa has been inconsistent. If we gained nothing else by her reading our letter, at least she got this fact down straight. She then goes on to attack the principal who was appointed in 2014-15 and makes claims that all of the accounts we have received are incorrect. We spoke to both parents and teachers who were at Ochoa in 2014-15 and, for all Gloria knows, perhaps some of us were there as well.

Just for the sake of fact checking, if the principal in question did what Gloria claimed she did, why was there no outrage communicated during call to the audience by Gloria herself or Flagg or Aguirre or, for that matter, by the parents who were directly impacted? Where were the “fighters and organizers” who failed to make the alleged misconduct public? Were complaints filed? Or was the principal just quietly railroaded out of Ochoa because she did not turn her authority over to Flagg and Aguirre? From our fact gathering, no specific complaints were filed and no investigation was conducted. Railroading is exactly what took place!


We are also glad that Gloria agreed with our depiction of the principal who was appointed in 2015-16 and whose appointment was blessed by Aguirre and Flagg. She says, “HIS OWN misdeeds lead to his demise.” We said as much in our 48th letter but we also said that his needed administrative attention was NOT focused in operating the school and that his demise brought added demise to the school. We said that his misdeeds (as Gloria refers to them) hurt many; this included the students for his lack of attention to his job and duties. We again ask; where were the “fighters and organizers” as the principal turned Ochoa into a place of sexual gossip and a hostile-tension-filled work environment?

EVERYONE associated with the school knew of the principal’s misconduct but it was not until the chatter spread beyond the school and one square mile that he was pressured to leave- which was not until last summer. By then a lot of damage had been done. His behavior was ignored by the “fighters and organizers” because he was doing their bidding, such as instructing teachers to have parents sign politically motivated petitions during parent conferences, as mentioned in our last letter. Someone shared with us that she personally contacted Cam Juarez last school year to anonymously report the principal’s inappropriate conduct and specifically stated to him that the school environment had become hostile based on the principal’s behavior. She chose Juarez to go to because of his acclaimed support for Ochoa. Her complaint was obviously ignored. 

Gloria actually exposed something we did not know. She said that a school committee rejected all of the candidates that were presented to consider for the principal position for the 2016-17 school year and that it was ultimately decided to have the school remain with an interim principal. Perhaps this is when a higher power, such as Sanchez, should have intervened to share research findings that show the significant importance to a school’s success is in having a qualified instructional leader assigned to a school. Ochoa has now been absent a permanent and appointed principal since August 2016. She says, “…the lack of leadership is a challenge and obstacle to our growth,” but then says that blame should not be misplaced.

How about just plain old accountability? We stand in holding Sanchez, Aguirre, Flagg and the former flunky Board majority accountable for the lack of stability and leadership at the school as well as the neglect of oversight of the school. This is where the facts point.

 

Gloria then goes into a very twisted spin and challenges the Whistleblowers to look in the mirror. We do a great deal of reflection and contemplation. Our mission is to expose wrongdoings within TUSD and we have adhered to it. Gloria then claims that what we are doing is oppression. NO; what we are doing is actual ORGANIZING and FIGHTING for students, as well as their teachers and schools. Perhaps Gloria should go back and read all 48 of our letters. Information which we have reported on Ochoa is based on what we have seen and what has been reported to us firsthand about the actions taken by Aguirre and Flagg. Gloria may not agree but the reported and witnessed behaviors are what they are. 

She then claims that what we have reported is misogynistic. A las, the third and final attack-card up Gloria’s sleeve. We are not interested in a card game that takes turns at shuffling out accusations that are transparent deflections for the District’s failures. We won’t play it. Gloria claims that our group has no integrity or real knowledge because we contribute “annonymous bullshit.” We do not believe people would still be reading our letters if their content was recognized as B.S. On the contrary, after each letter we hear added information that validates what has been written in our letters. Gloria says she proudly criticizes the District and holds them accountable. Within the last three and half years we cannot recall a public document with such criticism in it which has been proudly authored and signed by her or a comment before the Board HOLDING the District accountable. (She may have signed the Sanchez/Flagg/Aguirre letters and petitions to the Court but she did not author them.)


She says she respects Cesar and Brian for their work. And here we have it all.

 

She also states that she does not need any man to represent her or control her. The Whistleblowers have never mentioned Gloria prior to this letter so any insult that she was taken by her is of her making; not ours.

 

We agree with Gloria (this is the third agreement we have had with her), that as she says, “Some people blog and complain .. while others are busy getting shit done.”

 

The Whistleblowers are all about getting things done that support students, their teachers and schools. We are all about exposing the FACTS. We email our letters out to an enormous list of individuals. We are grateful that Three Sonorans posts our letters but we are not associated with Three Sonorans in any way other than it posts our letters. We are also mentioned in other blogs and sometimes our letters are posted. Many people have posted our letters on their FB page. We work hard to get information out to as many people as possible. Gloria is entitled to dispute the facts but her disputes should offer data and facts.

Right now the facts about Ochoa indicate that student academic learning is suffering at a very serious level. The students and parents are not to blame for this. It is the Board and the administration who are accountable, along with the so-called community organizers who have believed the wrong-doers. It is our integrity that has driven us to write about neglected schools such as Ochoa. We heard nothing other than complaining from Gloria in her post. Perhaps it is Gloria who needs a dose of reflection and integrity as well as an end to guzzling the Kool-Aid.

 

Thanks to those who publish us or reference us: Three Sonorans and Arizona Daily Independent. We appreciate it a great deal!

 



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4 comments on “Whistleblowers respond to Ochoa community critiques
  1. The Whistleblowers have rocked and rolled since they started their letters. As a TUSD teacher I cannot depend on the administration to provide me with much of anything to support my success in my classroom and my success is really the success of my students. I sure can’t believe anything that comes out of 1010 since many times one thing is said and then it is changed a few days later. The Whistleblowers have exposed a lot of facts and I think they have been successful in forcing some changes. Ricky Hernandez’ resignation would not have happened this week if the Whistleblowers had not come out with their letter last week exposing his conflict of interest. They have been right about Sanchez for three years. It has taken time for the rest of us to realize just how right they have been. I am thankful for the constant pressure they have put on the District. I worked at Ochoa a while back and met Gloria and thought that she was really going to be forceful in advocating for the kids’ needs. I also got to see Bryan Flagg and Cesar Aguirre take over parent meetings and attempt to direct teachers to “organize” with them. Why would a school allow non-educators to bull-doze their way into how the school is run? Gloria was a big let down and even though she argues that she is not a follower, that is all I saw her do. She supported Flagg and Aguirre in all of their misplaced actions. Sanchez made it clear to us that he supports Flagg and Aguirre and that we all had to fight the desegregation order together. Her cheering and applause were noticed by everyone. It turned my stomach and I knew that I had to get out, even though I loved working with Ochoa parents and kids. The parents are lied to constantly by Sanchez, Flagg, and Aguirre. I have heard them tell parents things that are just not true. Gloria calls herself a chingona but she was nothing but a let down in my eyes. This year I remain working with Latino kids, which is important for me as a Mexicana, but I am in a school with a principal who leads us and who supports me as a professional. I had a 6 week special and expensive project planned for my students which my principal told me could not be funded through the District. However, my principal found some community contributors and pitched in what was not covered. As my kids worked on the project the principal came into observe. The kids were totally engaged, using vocabulary far beyond their grade level while applying critical thinking skills. During the activity, one of the kids stopped and asked his fellow students to acknowledge our principal for “purchasing the supplies for a project that is stimulating our brain cells.” Leadership does make all the difference in the world. So do teachers. This teacher left Ochoa because of the constant intrusion of the politicos. This teacher almost left TUSD. Things have to change in TUSD, beginning with Ochoa.

  2. Brian Flagg is in charge of Casa Maria. Were it not for its devoted volunteers Casa Maria would not exist. Brian Flagg treats the older female volunteers in a very demeaning way. Some of the volunteers have left because of his treatment. Most of us have remained because of the service we are providing, not to Flagg, but to the homeless. What business does he have in telling educators how to run a school and even more important why are they allowing it? He himself is not a model manager. He boasts about being an organizer and I do not know about any of that. What I know is what I see at Casa Maria and to me it seems that he has issues with women.

  3. Tengo un estudiante en las esquela Ochoa y lo que los puedo decir es que no esta aprendiendo. Hay exceso de la política in la escuela con Cesar y otros y no me gusta en absoluto. No estamos documentados por lo que creo que yo no puedo afirmar mis sentimientos. En el año siguiente no volveremos a Ochoa. Yo no soy educada pero quiero que mi hijo a ser educado.

    Le pedí a un amiga/maestra a escribir esto para mí y enviarlo con su nombre. No quiero problemas con .

  4. The TUSD Governing Board needs to institute an ombudsman system or a system that supports whistleblowers and protects them from retaliation. TUSD has always been notorious for going after employees who complain or point out any problems, even if it is a grievance carried out under TUSD’s grievance process. That makes the Governing Board’s own policies virtually unenforceable. Employees are very reluctant to grieve those violations.

    It is unacceptable that the Whistleblowers have to go to such extreme lengths to keep their identifies hidden and can only point out issues via an anonymous newsletter. Parents should NOT be afraid to complain about bullying for feat that TUSD will ban them from their student’s campus and retaliate against their student. These are symptoms of a sick school district with a shamelessly incompetent administration..

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