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Open 56th Open Letter From: Whistleblowers– Comprised of a Large Group of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers, Retired
From: Whistleblowers– Comprised of a Large Group of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers, Retired Administrators and Parents, Grandparents
Subject: The Best and the Worst of School Year 2016-17
We have spent dedicated time talking with an assortment of TUSDers. We have talked to old-timers and newcomers and many who have been around in between. Altogether, our group conducted 2,307 one-on-one discussions with reflections as far back as fifty years ago. We have asked simple questions and in some cases probed deeply into opinions about the District and its leadership. We did our work before school, during lunch break, after school – in person and on the phone- but never during work hours. Our discussions took place in a variety of environments and were genuine discussions with individuals with whom we interface on a regular basis. Because of this, individuals were more likely to open up and provide their honest opinions. We are not going to publish all of our findings because, frankly, we discovered much more than what was anticipated. We only interviewed those who agreed from the onset to keep the interview fully confidential. Some of the interviewers are not part of our group but volunteered to help with this task.
One key and consistent opinion from all levels of employees and from parents from across the District is that the District, like all other public schools in Arizona, faces challenges that will determine whether public education will survive in the charter and voucher environment which has been so well rooted in our state. As educators and parents we are all frightened by this and we must each do as much as possible to voice our protests about the direction set by both the Governor and legislature.
This would be enough for any school district to face, but in addition to this TUSD has had the burden of having to deal with a superintendent who should have never been hired to begin with – HT Sanchez. More than 85% of those with whom we have spoken voiced concerns over the many ways he failed to lead the District over the last four years. His inexperience was a factor that surfaced time and time again in our discussions with individuals but Sanchez’ authoritarian and punitive management style was mentioned by 95% of those who provided their opinion. Nearly 100% were glad for the change in Board composition and for the action taken to convince Sanchez that it was time to leave. Sanchez was repeatedly named as the worst of all TUSD superintendents. We never asked about specific Board members but Kristel Foster’s name surfaced many times (1,884 times) as the main reason Sanchez survived as long as he did. She was described as his cheerleader and main protector. Adelita was not far behind in being blamed for what has become a very dysfunctional school district.
Frankly, we have been floored at how clear people are about Sanchez being the worst superintendent that TUSD has ever had. For this reason, we proclaim Sanchez to be the worst thing that happened in 2016-17, but celebrate his departure as the best thing to take place this school year. We are thrilled that he will soon be leaving Tucson with his family to return to Texas where he plans to live off the hog, running his daddy’s oil refinery business. Someone as snake-like slick as HT will work well with a substance that is as slick and dirty. The difference is one can be refined and the other can’t.
Without provocation, 77% of those tapped for opinions mentioned the Pueblo grade change matter as the worst actual incident that was brought to light during the current school year even though the incident took place last school year. Individuals from Pueblo High School said that they knew that pressure to change grades remained constant throughout the school year and said no one felt free to come forward after seeing that the teacher who had come forward last year was summarily ignored. Without solicitation, Auggie Romero was mentioned as the worst TUSD principal (a large number of the individuals offering their opinion are principals). Many said that he had been protected by Sanchez and Adelita Grijalva and said that they could not recall a time when TUSD had displayed such corruption. There is concern about the consequences in the District ignoring such a serious violation against a highly qualified teacher. We comment more about this item below, because as noted, next to the Sanchez exorcism from TUSD, the grade change incident at Pueblo is an issue that, after almost a year, has only gained more attention and concern.
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Our general question was: Which administrators do you believe have exemplified exemplary leadership and why? We seemed to have open the floodgates with this inquiry and received responses about those who have demonstrated the opposite.
Based on the comments about Matt Munger, many of which came from Sabino faculty and staff (the school where he served as Principal prior to his underserved promotion) was named as the worst central administrator- hands down with Abel Morado coming in at a close second. Those from Sabino High School said that they were glad to be rid of Munger but could not understand why he would have been promoted. (In our opinion Munger befriended Sanchez and is nothing more than a result of Sanchez-cronyism.) By far there was one administrator whose name only needed to be mentioned to get consistent reactions such as: “I know who she is and that she is the Deputy but I do not know what does. She has never been to my school and I have never heard her speak.” “I heard she and HT worked together in Texas. That’s how she got her job because she does not seem to know or do anything.” “She embarrassed all the principals by having a melt-down over HT’s departure at one of our meetings. It was a display of total weakness and lacking leadership!”
For this reason, we have named Karen Kopek most expensive and worthless administrator of the year.
Because of the number of individuals who addressed the Pueblo grade change incident, we set out to inquire about what exactly did happen with the complaint that was lodged last summer. Most of us heard about it on KGUN9 News. Valerie Cavazos has had a series of reports on the incident. We learned that there was an investigation conducted by TUSD and that a report had been submitted (buried) but not shared with the Board or the public. How is it possible that a teacher (TUSD employed teacher or leased teacher) reports a violation of policy by an administrator that appears to be pretty obvious and nothing is done about it? She issued failing grades to students and he, Auggie Romero, changed the grades. He admitted as much publically. Still nothing! Everyone who addressed this issue expressed nothing but admiration and support for the teacher.
as been left unscathed while he has consistently besmirched the teacher whose grades were changed? His conduct has sent a message, District-wide: it is perfectly all right for a principal to violate District policy. It has given permission for administrators to change grades or do other similar acts to boost and twist their actual student data without consequence. And by the way, Auggie is still up to his old tricks. He just has one of his assistant principals do the dirty work Where the hell is the new Board on this issue? Are they going to condone Romero’s conduct by looking the other way or stating that their hands are tied? This really is a travesty! President Hicks, Clerk Stegeman, and Board member Sedgwick, do what you must to deal with the matter.
We believe that the teacher, Yolanda Sotelo, who filed the complaint against Auggie Romero for changing the grade is the Best of 2016-17. Her courage and fortitude are admirable. She represents the very best of teachers and human beings. Another best, which many commented on as the organization that broke the block of three, is TUSD Kids First. Because of TUSD Kids First, we now have a new Board and a new Interim Superintendent. We hope that a year from now we will be able to name Dr. Gabriel Trujillo as the best thing that happened in 2017-18. He will need to redefine 1010 and its culture quickly if he wants to be named as the permanent supt.
We thank Three Sonorans for publishing our open letters and are grateful that the Arizona Daily Independent has published some of our letters and referenced several.
We just read the last comment on the blog about Mary Alice Wallace filing a complaint against Rachael Sedgwick and we have to say, it is the sleaziest maneuver by an employee to try to hang on to their job. She and the mean girls need to recognize that we are all on to tall of them. We are watching. We are listening. We are many places and they can no longer get away with their shenanigans. Mary Alice Wallace’s act names her as the stupidest and most desperate director of the year.
Also published on Medium.