TSON News | Whistleblowers: TUSD board remains sick and dysfunctional

Whistleblowers: TUSD board remains sick and dysfunctional

We grant our permission to publish this letter and to distribute it widely.
59th Open Letter

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

Subject: The Severe Sickness that the Governing Board Cannot Seem to Shake Off

We are happy that Dr. Gabriel Trujillo has been selected as the TUSD Superintendent. He is focused on instruction, is being totally even-handed in how he deals with each individual Board member and by now has had dozens upon dozens of meetings within the institution and the community. He has been to every school and has learned a great deal in a short period of time. It is not all for show either.

What he has learned, he puts to use in making the best decisions possible. Trujillo has a massive undertaking before him. HT Sanchez left the District in a hazardous state of dysfunction with very low morale. The TUSD Governing Board’s dysfunction has only added to the condition. People remain fearful to speak up. Sanchez placed enough venomous snakes in the system to remain to make it an unhealthy environment. The institution does not allow for concerns to be brought be forward. When they are, it is usually the person who has voiced concerns who suffers negative consequences.

Several critical positions remain filled with Sanchez-filled inepts and the long-term damage that incompetents like Anna Maiden, Karla Soto, Abel Morado, and Steffanie Boe have done may take months, even years, to remedy. TUSD has lost credibility and trust due to what we refer to as the Sanchez Jinx, a curse which was put on the District by, Adelita Grijalva, Kristel Foster, and Cam Juarez- the three mad wizards who brought him to us.

This Jinx followed an era of John Pedicone’s debacle in the way he mis-managed the Mexican American Studies issue. We refer to this era as the Pedicone Poison. Pedicone’s arrogant and superior racial stance on MAS divided the Board and the community. We now know that Pedicone absorbed or at least reflected the racial animus that permeated the anti-MAS legislation that was promoted and applied only to TUSD by Tom Horne and John Huppenthal. Bad enough. But Kristel Foster bought right into it and Adelita Grijalva and Cam Juarez doing nothing in their so-called leadership roles. The Jinx and the Poison have almost been too much for TUSD to get through. What has saved it are the people at the schools (principals, assistant principals, teachers, support staff, etc.) and the services provided to the schools which get the students to our schools (bus drivers), feed them (food services), and other direct support.

We hope that Trujillo will bond with his principals and understand the importance of ongoing and open communication. Most of us who are principals and assistant principals are not Sanchez enthusiasts even though Trujillo has been told we are. Sure, Sanchez still has his empty heads around the District but without him here, they are becoming less harmful (except for Kristel Foster who continues to mourn HTs absence. Her mourning is actually her wrath.) The importance of our teachers cannot be stated enough and it is important for Trujillo to set up a communication line with teachers without relying on TEA. TEA is a dying union with horrible leadership.


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The vote to hire Trujillo-4 to 1, with Mark Stegeman dissenting, as well as the vote on his contract was a real disappointment in Mark Stegeman. Mark made it clear from the beginning that he wanted the former principal of Rose, Steven Trejo, who had no public school central administration experience and who said publically during his forum that he knew nothing about desegregation because it did not impact his school (all principals know that the desegregation order impacts their schools). Trejo used his primarily home-schooled children as examples of how to raise achievement during one of his responses to a question which he was given. Of the five candidates who came before the public he was at the bottom! But Mark does not know how to lose or how to turn one of his negatives into a positive. Instead he begins to scheme out how he is going to prove that Trujillo was a bad choice so that he can arrogantly keep saying, “I told you so!”

As a child, Mark probably did not play well with other children. He was likely a very bright but very lonely child who never learned the importance of sharing, taking turns, and compromising; really compromising. What he does now is announce that he is compromising during a Board meeting on certain agenda items by allowing for the change of a few words in a motion made by him. It is a robotic exchange without any real human dimension. It is far from compromising.

Mark sent out one of his brilliant updates this week, which is the first of several jabs he will be taking at Trujillo. Everyone knows it. He is keeping tally (and/or creating mishaps to “get” Trujillo”). He weathered Liz Fagan in this fashion. It has been repeated many times that the reason she chose to leave TUSD was totally due to Mark’s constant nit-picking. He drove Pedicone crazy with his fault-finding and as much as we agreed with his tireless complaints against Sanchez, we see the pattern for what it is. Mark has to be in control. With a weak and green administrator such as Trejo in the role of Superintendent, Mark would have been in the driver’s seat from the beginning. He could have dictated anything he wanted and Trejo would have delivered quid pro quo style. He did not get his way and God help us, he will make Trujillo’s life miserable along with that of his peers on the Board.

Don’t get us wrong. It is not that we have turned on Mark. We have always seen these characteristics. We just thought that he had become somewhat humbled while he was in the Board minority and had better recognized the need to have a unified Board. We thought that he would recognize the drastic need for Board members to work together and not isolate those who are not part of the majority.

Silly us! He has not changed. Instead, we think he has gotten worse. BUT, no matter how “good” Mark is at his mind games, there is no one more devious on the Board than Kristel Ann Foster. She spends her long days pitting people against Rachael Sedgwick, Mark Stegeman, and Mike Hicks and attempting to get everyone on board with her. Just her. She portrays herself as a martyr, savagely working for the kids, when it is ONLY her power and her influence that she cares about.

Between Mark and Kristel there is really no chance that this Board will ever work well together. Adelita hates Mark. She tells anyone who is within 5 feet of her how much she hates him and she tells them why but Adelita does not like to work too hard so she will never come up with a plan to actually take him on: one on one. She is also a coward because she knows that her 110 IQ cannot go up against his 145IQ (if Mark’s IQ is any higher he has not applied it to anything of value while on the Board). Adelita’ s hate however is used to fuel Kristel’s own rage and plotting against Mark. It is sick. Very sick.

Rachael Sedgwick somehow has managed to get caught in the cross-fire. She is another control freak and she has managed to piss off all of her peers. She too seems not to have a history of playing well with others or with knowing when enough said is enough said. She talks almost as much as Mark and like him, consumes a lot of Board meeting time, with a lot of words and no action. The two of them need to learn how to summarize. The only ally she could have had on the Board, Mike Hicks, she has managed to alienate by acting extremely condescending to him. So Rachael is out in the cold except for when Mark feels the need to use her for a vote. He has and he will exploit her. Here he has put his 145 to use.

With what are we left? We are left with a Board that is more non-functional than functional. A day retreat has never been more needed. Although, we see little hope in making the psychological breakthroughs which are needed to make any real difference. We just do not believe it will take place. No one on the Board wants to change their own behavior. Everyone on the Board wants to change everyone else’s behavior. So the Board will remain as it is and as it is, is extremely dysfunctional and sick!

We plan to continue to watch the Board carefully with a specific tracker on Mark Stegeman’s divisive behavior in once again making the life of the Superintendent as miserable as possible. Hey Mark, if you read this or are made aware of it, we implore you to modify your tactics to those that are positive and productive ones. Put an end to the power-mind-games. Get a grasp on your elitism. Highly intelligent individuals with Asperger’s go through life feeling as though they often have no control. In order to compensate they often attempt to apply as much control as possible in many areas of their life. This takes an incredible amount of time and energy and results in a false sense of control. We are on to you and so are a lot of others!


Also published on Medium.

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9 comments on “Whistleblowers: TUSD board remains sick and dysfunctional
  1. This is a great overview of our reality within TUSD right now. We need to support our new superintendent and Board members need to stop all of the nonsense.

    I worked at Rose when S. Trejo was the principal. He did do a lot of good things but he started by building a professional teaching team that concentrated on students. We came in early, stayed late, and did whatever we needed to do to create a good learning environment. Shouldn’t this be the rule in TUSD and not the exception? Once Trejo had his team, he supported us but he did nothing beyond that. How many of you remember seeing him at Board meetings?

    He really stayed out of our way, as he said during his presentation to the community. He does have some qualities of an instructional leader but he also lacks a lot of leadership skills. When you work with someone for several years you get to see their strengths and weaknesses and although I like and respect Trejo, he had plenty of weaknesses.

    It would have been a mistake to appoint him as supt.

    Our Board is cause for great concern, if not depression. So many people work so hard every day in TUSD and for the last 4 years, it has been without direction, without communication, without training, without recognition. HT and his three pocketed Board Members did nothing but spout off political platitudes.

    The language arts teacher in my building ran out of paper last year, for example. She expects that by January she will be told that there is no more paper for her. We do not work in the foothills where this would be an non-issue. We work in a school on the south side. How is it possible that the largest school district in southern Arizona is unable to supply its teachers with paper? This in itself should tell the world just how SICK the TUSD Governing Board is!!

    Mark Stegeman is not all bad I am sure. But he is so disconnected from 75% of the students who make up TUSD and when I have seen him in action during Board Meetings he does come across as someone who thinks their shit don’t stink.

    • Per the TEA agreement, TUSD is required to supply teachers with paper. As a TEA rep, then my principal tried to pull this nonsense and say teachers had to supply their own paper, I started the grievance process.

      It is not necessary to be a member of TEA to start a grievance. Teachers only need to look up the applicable section of the TEA Consensus Agreement and quote it with the section number to the principal.

      I would suggest taking another teacher with you as a witness or better yet, just email the section to the principal. Emails are more effective than meeting with the principal. An email means, the teacher has irrefutable evidence.

      If the principal ignores the request or rejects it, under the grievance process in the agreement, the teacher has a limited number of days to complain to Employee Relations.

      No TUSD teacher should ever buy paper!

  2. It’s clear to me that Three Sonorans’ “writers” are part of the problem. They call themselves educators, but they don’t how to properly use periods, commas, semicolons and em dashes. So, when they present “solutions,” cloaked in childish attacks on people like HT Sanchez (some 6 months resigned), you are reminded that these uneducated educators can NOT be part of the solution. (TS’ writers even asked Rachael Sedgwick to summarize her responses at Board Meetings, because they’re too long and presumably they can’t follow along because she doesn’t speak in 30-second soundbites. They want Cliff Notes of Sedgwick’s responses to the district’s myriad of problems. Unreal!)

    Secondly, TS has decided to turn against Stegeman who they (in the recent past) liked because he disliked Sanchez. And, now, are using his obvious intelligence against him. Yes, educators, can find fault in someone for being smart.

    And TS can’t drop the MAS BS. Take a look at the South Side, folks. The South Side isn’t the depressed, pile of rubbish that it is because the people in the community didn’t have a MAS class in high school. There is something fundamentally flawed and missing in these people’s upbringings and outlooks on life. MAS and culturally-relevant courses are the non-solution solution presented by “Latino academia” which have made careers out of finding excuses for problems instead of solving them.

    If TS really cared about Latinos, they would want to make instruction in English mandatory and they would talk about broken families with “mothers” kinda, sorta knowing their sperm donor “fathers.” But, no! All you hear on here is MAS.

    Lastly, for the people reading, I want to point to one exceptionally peculiar choice of words in the “article” written here. Trejo, the former principal, was called “green” as a superintendent. Well, Trujillo is just as green as a superintendent, but the writers of this hit piece were hoping that people wouldn’t see this hypocrisy.

    I saw it. TS: Your self-serving politics are becoming more and more obvious. Leave the parsing of words and splitting of hairs to lawyers, folks. Trejo and Trujillo are equally inexperienced.

    • Your comment is unhelpful, but it was not intended to be helpful, was it? It was just the ventings of a racist pen-clerk. It revealed much about you. Apparently, your highest priority is punctuation followed by your need to display your contempt for the District. To paraphrase your own words, there is something fundamentally flawed and monstrous in your upbringing and outlook on life if you truly believe that the South side of Tucson is a “depressed, pile of rubbish.”

      Someone with that “alt-right” outlook is incapable of being part of any solution. In fact, you and your outlook are a large part of the problem.

  3. From the time that “Ugly” began commenting on TS s/he has shown the ugly deep-seeded sentiments of a racist. What is so disgusting is that according to what s/he has stated previously, s/he has worked in TUSD schools on the south and/or west side. Part of the pathology of TUSD is to have allowed this person to get anywhere near children and their parents. Ugly’s hate for minority mothers is no different than the hate spewed by the KKK at anyone who is not of Anglo origin. The last comment hit Ugly right between the eyes with some real truth.

    We guess that “Ugly” has memory problems because, time and time again, TS has pointed out that TS is not the writer of the Whistleblowers’ open letters and that TS is not in any way associated with the Group. What TS does is post our letters, for which we are forever grateful. But here comes “Ugly” time and time again blasting TS for the content of our letters.

    The TUSD Whistleblowers is a large group comprised of TUSD administrators, teachers, parents, grandparents, and some very helpful volunteers, along with TUSD retirees. The letters are not written by the same person or people every time. Those in charge of writing a letter take input from our members which is then reflected in the letters. This most recent letter was written by two fairly new teachers who spoke to almost everyone in the group. We believe they did a great job. We will readily admit that the letters are not perfect but they have and will continue to convey information and sentiments about TUSD which each member brings to the table through their research and by attentively listening to those at their schools, central administration, within TUSD departments, at parent meetings, within the community, etc.

    If we believed that our work had been a waste of time and effort, we would have stopped a long time ago. Given the discussions about our letters in all the places mentioned above, we know that our letters have brought about awareness, sometimes exposing facts that otherwise would have gone unknown. We know that we rattle cages in a very positive way. We know that our letters drove HT Sanchez to the edge and that he did all he could to find out who we are so that he could come after us. He is gone. We are here. His strategy didn’t work out very well.

    We also know that we stand in the absolute opposite position as “Ugly” whose ignorance and hate of poor people and minorities is identical to what is coming out of the Alt Right/KKK.

    Racists such as you, “UT” cannot stand it when those whom you portray as being inferior have and will continue to make gains in our society. It makes perfect sense that you would hate Mexican American Studies since it has been proven to be of such value to Latin@ students in promoting academic achievement and improving the graduation rate. Go ahead and use your English skills to attack the use of too many commas, a typo here and there, etc. Let it make you feel superior but know this, it is delusional.

    TUSD Whistleblowers

    • I’m the complete opposite of you. If I had a child in a poor neighborhood, I wouldn’t victimize him by telling him that he can get far not speaking English in America, bringing women in and out of his life every other week or telling him that he needs a culturally-relevant course (read: MAS) to succeed.

      Out of curiosity, do you remember who your superintendent was when you were in the 5th grade? I don’t. Scapegoating Sanchez for broken families and not speaking English in America is the real racism here.

      To the fair-minded person reading this: can you imagine for a second Barack Obama’s mother returning to America with a young Barack and telling the school she enrolls him in that he is to be educated in Indonesian? I can’t.

      And lastly, one funny observation since you brought up race. Sylvia Campoy, a past “contributor,” and the young lady confronting the the State of Arizona for fighting MAS love talking about being a latina but won’t come near a Latino when it comes to a husband. That’s generally the way it works. Go look at the Mexican studies department at the University of Arizona. So many Latinos with Irish surnames. Funny how that works out. Being Latino is good enough to study but not good enough to marry.

      • Wow, ug, doubling down with a stream-of-consciousness diatribe. I guess no one ever told you that hate is a negative non-zero-sum game. Everyone loses, some more than others. Some lose freedoms, opportunities, and even their lives, while others lose their reason and their souls. The result is a net loss for society.

      • Ugly, your opinions are based on hate and/or ignorance. They actually go together most of the time.

        I happen to know Ms. Campoy and her spouse. They are both Mexican American. She and he grew up in Tucson. This shows how ignorant you are and that your information is tainted or just plain wrong.

        However, falling in love and marrying someone who is not one’s same race, ethnicity, or religion does not mean that anyone has abandoned their culture or religion.

        Whether someone is able to remember who the superintendent was when they were in 5th grade says nothing about what that particular superintendent might have done to positively or negatively impact that student’s educational experience.

        You are truly a pure idiot.

  4. In my experience, the Whistle Blowers have been very good about bringing public attention to problems in TUSD and on the Board. I appreciate their work.

    Sometimes, I have wished the language was more temperate in some newsletters.

    I do disagree about their assessment of Rachel Sedgwick’s comments.. I believe her comments have been to the point and highly relevant. She’s a good addition to the Board.

    As a new Board member, she needs to learn to make motions to correct the problems she identifies. It doesn’t matter, whether or not each motion is approved unmodified. Making the motion will start the process of fixing the problem.

    Ms. Sedgwick does need to reconsider her approach to both Mr. Hicks and to Ms. Grijalva. Mr. Hicks is blessed with common sense and deserves respect. Ms Grijalva is worth listening to and should never be automatically dismissed. It takes 3 votes to make a difference and getting agreement from 4 or 5 is even better.

    I was happy to hear that Ms. Grijalva’s IQ is 110. That’s the same as mine & I’ve never found it handicapping. ” What matters is not how fast the little engine is; what matters at the end of the day, is what the little engine produces.”

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