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57.5 Open Letter From: Whistleblowers– Comprised of a Large Group of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers, Retired Administrators and Parents, Grandparents
Subject: Final 4 Supt. Candidates; Clearing the Air; and Jason Freed –Let’s Get Freed from TEA
The Final Four Top Candidates for TUSD
From the start of the TUSD Superintendent selection process through now that 4 finalists have surfaced, we knew that the process would be politicized, similar to how the last one was thoroughly corrupted and which resulted in HT Sanchez being selected as the ONLY candidate being considered for the position. Please do not believe that a change in the Board majority has changed the games being played by Board members. Because of the composition of the selection committee and their loyalties to specific Board members instead of students, several extremely qualified candidates were screened out from final consideration. This was done to prevent some candidates being screened “in” who were thought to be favored by specific Board members- despite their qualifications- and also to narrow the competition for those who were floated to the final four list. (Remember, each Board member had three of their appointees on the Committee.)
Mark Stegeman seems to have had a favorite- Stephen Trejo. Although Trejo has no central administration background; no substantial budget experience; no curriculum expertise, he was easily pushed to the top by the selection committee. It is more than interesting that there seemed to be real advocacy for him by selection committee members who are aligned with Stegeman. Essentially, Trejo is sitting in a seat which rightfully belonged to someone with more public school district top level experience.
Trejo left his job to oversee the operation of a charter school. Where is his loyalty to traditional public school education and if selected does this mean that TUSD will have an advocate for charter schools? Or is he one who goes any old way which best accommodates him? Bread becomes slippery when it is buttered on both sides. Trejo did put Rose Elementary on the map by drastically improving achievement in English language arts and math. He also established a scholarship partnership for students who maintained high grades. All of this is admirable if it was done on the up and up.
But within TUSD circles everyone has heard the rumblings about the possibility of school wide tampering with the academic achievement assessments (this was not student cheating, it was adult educators attempting to make Rose look good on performance assessments). Although this was something that brought a great worry to some Rose faculty and which made its way into the larger TUSD community dialogue, nothing was ever done to investigate the matter.
Trejo also was said to have directed students not to speak Spanish on campus and while he has explained that this was nothing more than a miscommunication, it appears that his directive did take place. There was push-back from some parents and faculty and he altered his ways.
Still it says a lot about the man’s thinking! The most obvious question about Trejo is why he did not attempt to elevate himself within the administration ranks while at TUSD? The other is, was he recruited by Stegeman to apply for the supt. position?
Maria Marin is favored by two Board members which was obvious from those advocating on the Selection Committee for her ascension as a candidate. Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster seem to lean heavily in her direction even though her experience is several levels below that of supt. She is a director. In fact, she reports to Mark Alvarez in the hierarchy of TUSD. HT Sanchez, who is rumored to have had a “special” relationship with Marin, passed her over in appointing an interim assistant superintendent. He chose Alvarez over her. Her highest level of attainment within TUSD is midlevel, as a Director. This does not qualify for the supt. position. Several of us have reported directly to her or still do and have found her to be a mouth piece for central administration. Communication has been one way.
She is not an advocate for site administrators, the schools, students, and parents. Time and time again we have voiced our concerns about being left out of the budget process and not being made aware of our budgets. She has done nothing about this. The same is true in the areas of student discipline, the early hiring of teachers, professional development, not receiving ordered instructional materials, and other similar areas.
It is almost comical to see her résumé state that she was “trained in Tucson Unified School District, Desegregation – Unitary Status training, reporting and data”. What the hell does this mean? Somehow she has failed to pass on her wisdom in this area to the principals who she oversees. All of the areas listed in her résumé under training are areas in which most principals and teachers have received training. It does not distinguish her.
Her listed references show her roots: Maggie Shafer, John Pedicone, Rick Myers. It really is time to break away from the Pedicone and Sanchez eras. She did not list Sanchez as a reference, perhaps because of the
She did not list Sanchez as a reference, perhaps because of the heartbreak he caused her or perhaps because she recognizes how toxic his name is now. She is currently completing her EdD. As a midlevel administrator, we do not believe that Marin should have been screened in for the Board’s further consideration. We can almost hear Grijalva’s high pitched and exaggerated voice attempting to rally support for a female supt. and a Latina, at that. This would be great if only her favored candidate were more qualified than others in the group. She is NOT! Of course, Kristel Foster will put her boxing gloves on to fight for the Grijalva candidate. It is interesting and telling that one of Grijalva’s boys was responsible for bestowing Marin with a significant Pima County award. (There are hundreds of educators who better deserved the award!) Good old Richard Elias. The Board will also get plenty of lobbying from the Pedicone posse.
We are not going to spend much time discussing Donna Hargens. She was pushed out of her last school district in Kentucky. Her evaluation and recent audit findings should have not allowed her to get into the final four. She is walking baggage. She is taking the seat of a more qualified candidate, without baggage. Her baggage is way too much for this community to tolerate.
We are left with one last final four candidate, Gabriel Trujillo. His résumé blows all the other candidates out of the arroyo. Yes, Hargens has more experience and she has actually been a superintendent but her most recent work history is far from positive. Trujillo has more central administration experience than Trejo, who basically has been a principal and the head of charter school with less than 10,000 students.
Trujillo towers over Marin in experience and level of experience. She has not been elevated beyond the position of director (not even by Sanchez, with whom she had a “special” relationship). Trujillo’s mantra as interim has been to treat each Board member equitably, which is what any professional superintendent should do. He even included this in his résumé, by stating that the position “is responsible for preparing and organizing information for TUSD Governing Board members so as to keep all board members appropriately informed of major events, issues, policy discussions, and challenges around the district…”
Some have found this distasteful because they are nervous about his “leaning” in supporting Grijalva and Foster more than the other Board members. (It does not help that Stegeman is whispering this in their ear.) But Trujillo has no such leaning. We are aware that he has had discussions with a wide range of TUSD employees (administrators, teachers, blue and white collar, etc.) as well as community members (parents, community leaders, activists, etc.) and that he has learned a great deal about TUSD’s recent history. We are impressed by his enthusiasm to make positive changes directly in the classroom to support students and teachers. He informed the principals that many of us have not met up to the expectations of a principal. We agree. There are a lot of principals who are just taking up dead space, a la Karen Kopec style, while others have known that no one was really watching/supervising them. (Marin is part of this catastrophe!) He put a lot of the principals off by his statement but through his statement he has also put them on notice. We also know that he has met with the plaintiffs and has opened the door to collaboration. This is much more than Pedicone or Sanchez ever did in our viewpoint.
His role in the Board meetings has been professional and informative. He does a great job. He earned his doctorate in education in 2012 and is focused only on the work before him, as opposed to Marin who is continuously working on her doctorate during work hours (not very ethical).
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It is critical that parents and community members become involved in the selection process. Attend the superintendent candidate forums! Ask important questions at the forums. Let each Board member know your thoughts in writing- document it! If you leave a message at the Board office make sure to tell the staff to put the message in writing. Attend the candidate forums! The information is provided below.
This process could get hijacked just like the last one did. Board members who have already made up their minds (wrongly) need to be put in check! Let them know that you do not agree with them- if you do not agree with them. There is no doubt about how malicious and conniving the two old-guard female Board members are- Grijalva and Foster. They will try to get someone in place that they can manipulate directly and indirectly through their contacts, such as Pedicone, Rick Myers (he belongs to Southern Arizona Leadership Council, along with Foster), Maggie Shafer, and the entire Grijalva “whole lot of people” crew. The mean girls will stop at nothing to get their power back and for any of you who have been attending the Board meetings (or streaming them), you know how disruptive they are at each meeting. When they had the power they misused it and caused harm. Stegeman strategizes every one of his moves like the great puppet master that he is (in his intellectual world he deems this as being a genius).
Sedgwick and Hicks, you need to be the checks and balances on the Board! Do not get manipulated by the mean girls (Sedgwick we know this will not happen with you) or by Stegeman’s intellectual mumbo-jumbo. Hicks, be your own man- for the kids! Stop accommodating the mean girls. Stop letting Stegeman out-maneuver you. The following appeared in the Arizona Daily Star on 8/13/20017:
Information on he supt. forums:
Finalist: Stephen Trejo
Scheduled Visit: Monday, August 14, 2017
Forum: 7 p.m.- 9 p.m. at Catalina School Auditorium, 3645 E. Pima St.
Finalist: Maria Marin
Scheduled Visit: Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Forum: 7 p.m.- 9 p.m. at Catalina School Auditorium, 3645 E. Pima St.
Finalist: Dr. Gabriel Trujillo
Scheduled Visit: Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Forum: 7 p.m.- 9 p.m. at Catalina School Auditorium, 3645 E. Pima St.
Finalist: Dr. Donna Hargens
Scheduled Visit: Thursday, August 17, 2017
Forum: 7 p.m.- 9 p.m. at Sahuaro High School Auditorium, 545 N Camino Seco
Clearing the Air
Our last letter morphed into a pretty negative piece. Some who were involved in writing the letter recently retired from TUSD with the last several years being the very nastiest of their career and the letter seems to have captured a lot of “bad” in one document. The letter reflected increased frustration from a horrible, oppressive era with HT Sanchez as the TUSD Supt. and a Board majority (Adelita Grijalva, Kristel Foster, and Cam Juarez) who cared only about protecting his interest and those of their own. We understand that the letter put a lot of people off. Please understand that behind each failure/near failure in TUSD there is a person or people who are hurting kids and we believe that these individuals must be called out, just as HT Sanchez was called out. Our group is comprised of professionals and parents who are committed to our students and our schools and it is more than irresponsible to sit back and do nothing. Keep this in mind as you judge our “harshness.”
Of those mentioned in the last letter, it is no coincidence that several of the inept administrators are now GONE. Abel Morado has no ESI contract for 17-18 school year. He is now working at the Amphitheater Middle School. Karla Soto thought she could retire and then immediately double-dip her income through a contract with ESI and declared that these were her plans publically. She also has no contract. She was presumptuous and wrong in her thinking and the current Board majority wouldn’t have any part of her scheme. Anna Maiden did a lot of HT Sanchez’ dirty hiring and firing work. She screwed up the diversity plan and allowed employment practices to evolve to the sloppiest they have ever been. She knew she would not survive with new eyes on HR and she cowardly left the District before she was asked to leave. She too has run away to Amphitheater Public Schools as its EOO Administrator. Whatever Todd Jaeger, as Amphi’s newly appointed Supt., is thinking has nothing to do with the civil rights of employees and students. (Amphitheater has become the escape route for fleeing inept administrators.) Karen Kopec was a waste of money from the day HT brought her into the District. She knew how to do two things: 1. Nothing 2. Cry. She is back in Texas. Everyone agreed that she contributed nothing. Stephanie Boe also knew that her mortal sins had caught up to her. Her last racist statement that MAS would never return to TUSD, even if the MAS case prevailed on behalf of the MAS plaintiffs, was the straw that broke the ass’ back. Many rightfully asked who had given her the authority to make such a drastic and racist policy statement. On Tuesday of this week she resigned.
Exposure of negative and inept administrators sometimes results in positive outcomes but sometimes inept administrators have a way of hanging on. Matt Munger, Mark Alvarez, Sam Brown, & Auggie Romero, have all escaped any form of accountability. Hopefully, this will be the year that their ineptness becomes more visible to everyone and that top administration takes action! What do they all have in common? All are liars; are all opportunists who never have the best interest of students in mind. All were protected and advanced by HT Sanchez; all are incompetent. Auggie Romero should have been fired for a list of infractions, including the grade change he pulled off for 6 seniors who flunked their English class and were allowed to graduate without meeting state standards. He should have lost his administrative certification over this alone. Instead, thanks to HT Sanchez and Adelita Grijalva he continues as Pueblo’s Principal.
At one point you all know that Clarice Clash was in the same category as these guys but since she was attempting to do some degree of work and to get along with others, we decided we had bigger fish to fry. Too bad she changed her more restrained conduct and went back into her exploitive nasty mode. These days her mouth is full of name dropping over the “power” she has with Gloria Copeland “behind her.” Really? Gloria is what she has going? Gloria saved her from her failures at Tucson High when she had been caught red-handed changing discipline records and retaliating against those who exposed her. Gloria constantly reminds people that she has three Board members “in her pocket”. Gloria uses the race card every single chance she gets which is offensive to everyone but especially to those of us who are African American and who can stand on the merit of our work. Clash seems to be modeling this same type of MO- name dropping and race carding. Clash has also dropped Lorraine Richardson’s name by bragging that she prepared Lorraine’s Board presentation for her making it seem as though Lorraine was incapable of doing it herself. When Clash was at Sahuaro High School it was known that she carried a loaded gun. This has been verified by Sahuaro staff. This is who TUSD has entrusted to build a District-wide curriculum? The NRA would be so proud.
Besides running her mouth, Clash does not seem to realize that when she contaminates the work product that is placed on her desk by professionals who work for her or when she proudly takes credit for their work, she is alienating the very professionals who she needs to support her? She will grab at power and position without regard to anyone else. Yet, without them, she is nothing. We have said it before and we guess it is fitting to say it again, Clash is on a crash course. She is forcing a clash with her own staff. She needs to stop with the Gloria power shove and actually do her own work, starting with learning something about curriculum and its implementation. She has also divulged that Gloria wants her to get rid of the director overseeing culturally relevant curriculum. Is she stupid enough to continue on this course? She may not be aware of just how obvious her trail of misdeeds has become to many who are concerned about her ties to Gloria and her mismanagement games.
Jason Freed- Let’s Get Freed from TEA!
Jason Freed addressed the Board during the July 27, 2017 Board meeting. His three minutes was saturated with great audacity as he gleefully asked the Board to “partner with TEA”. Since he had to be removed from HT Sanchez’ pocket prior to HT heading back to his home state of Texas, his destiny and that of his organization, TEA, was immediately put at more risk and he, even as thick-headed as he is, saw the writing on the wall. During the Sanchez reign he had gotten very cocky and presumptuous in throwing his weight around, as the man in HT’s pocket. It was a perfect give-and-take between the two of them. Of course, part of the “deal” was that TEA endorse only the Sanchez-rubber-stamped Board Members (provide phone bank support, put campaign signs up, advertise widely to vote for Adelita, Cam and Kristel (all horrible for kids)). Freed seemed to be groveling for a renewed partnership. Pathetic! TUSD needs a real teachers union, one that can support its teachers and white collar employees. TEA has lost all effectiveness and all creditability. It is time for the Board to open their eyes and do the right thing for those who actually are the backbone of TUSD. A new and professional union would be healthy for the institution.
We thank Three Sonorans for its continued support in publishing our letters. We thank those of you who take the time to read our letters.