A lot of TUSD activists who follow everything at every meeting, to agendas, budgets, and attend forums and meet individually with board members are very disappointed in TUSD Board President Michael Hicks this week.
The issue has to do with the outsourcing of substitute teachers in TUSD to a private corporation in Phoenix. This all began last year, another of HT Sanchez’s connections made in exchange for kickbacks, and the whole deal stunk to high heaven.
Last summer, we warned everyone about what was coming in an article entitled Over 40% of TUSD spending approved goes to ESI, substitute teachers, without any discussion.
Hidden within the consent agenda was an item to spend tens of millions of dollars and within that was an ESI contract for over $21 million!
ESI was promising to pay subs more, give them healthcare, and save TUSD money all at the same time. In exchange for this deal that HT Sanchez most likely worked out to keep his majority in power during an election year, Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez voted to OUTSOURCE substitute teachers to a PRIVATE CORPORATION in PHOENIX, blaming OBAMACARE as the reason.
After the vote, Kristel and Cam received a whopping $5,000 each from a Republican woman living in Paradise Valley. In a TUSD school board race that is a LOT of money. According to their attorney, the check included the name Rob Brooks on it, the VP of ESI.
Mark Stegeman voted no on the contract and received no kickback campaign contribution.
When this was first brought to light last year, Kristel and Cam fought to keep the money, but after TV and printed news picked up the story they caved in and agreed to return the kickback, a kickback they should never have accepted in the first place. If not their fault, it is surely the fault of their treasurers who get the largest donation and think “Housewife” is okay to put down on campaign finance forms without wondering who this donor is, especially since the VP’s name is also on the checks and your incumbent candidate just awarded his company over $21,000,000.
Kristel Foster ended up returning the funds, Cam Juarez has admitted he broke his promise and spent the money, and since he is so ashamed for his transgressions, he has not filed a campaign finance as legally required win September of last year!
Fast-forward a year. It is clear that this ESI contract became a campaign issue and now many people knew who ESI and Kickback Kristel & Cam are. After Cam lost and Rachael Sedgwick replaced him, it was clear that ESI had to go. Not just because of the kickbacks, but because they turned out to be huge corporate liars!
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The substitute teachers who used to get paid over $120 were now making $92. ESI was taking a cut of their pay. They also gave not one TUSD sub any healthcare benefits. Long-term subs who worked every day of the school year ended up making less than a person making minimum wage for the year.
So it’s no secret how the ESI business model works. It makes subs into cheap sweatshop labor, squeezing money out of them but being the middle man so that the Democrats running TUSD such as Adelita Grijalva, Kristel Foster and even the teachers’ union TEA could wipe their hands free as if they were Pontius Pilate. This left all the burden to be carried by the subs who carried the sins of TUSD mismanagement and exploitation on their shoulders this past year.
These sorrowful mysteries were exposed meeting after meeting by the substitute teachers. Mark Stegeman and Rachael Sedgwick were clearly not going to re-new the contract for ESI for the outsourcing of subs…
… and the biggest opponent was Michael Hicks!
He hated ESI. He promised many that ESI had no chance in hell of getting this renewal.
But it’s amazing what money does, acting as a carrot for the big asses following it naively. Kickback donations worked wonders in getting Kickback Kristel & Cam to go against basic Democratic Principles (remember they wanted that resolution against Betsy Devos because their feared privatization in education? Hypocrisy!).
Why did Michael Hicks join the mean girls in the end though? Even Republicans are outraged on social media.
Then, to make matters worse, there was an agenda item to give the poor subs a raise and Michael Hicks once again voted with the mean girls to quash any hope of a raise. Remember when Kristel and Adelita supporting the minimum wage hike, and here they are acting as sweatshop owners paying these teachers poverty-level wages?
The covfefe is strong with Kickback Kristel & Adelita, but Michael Hicks joining their anti-substitute teacher team was surprising and saddening.
Remember when the headline last September was Michael Hicks calls for investigation into ESI-related pay-to-play campaign contributions to Kristel Foster & Cam Juarez?
It seems that in TUSD when it comes to pay-to-play, it is both parties that are game.
Also published on Medium.