TUSD board president overthrow attempt?
The embattled TUSD board has scheduled a leadership vote
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - The Tucson Unified School District board is no stranger to excitement and controversy, after debates surrounding ethnic studies have sparked protests and demonstrations during their meetings in recent months. The program is one several say sparks inappropriate anti-government sentiment, but now the talk of overthrow is within the school board itself.
One of the items on their next agenda is the election of new officers. TUSD clerk Judy Burns says two members who wish to remain anonymous suggested the item. It all comes after board president Mark Stegeman's failure to keep order on several occasions.
In May, seven Ethnic Studies advocates were arrested for speaking out of turn and disruption. This Tuesday the drama returned when John White took the floor. After flashing an inappropriate hand signal, he was still allowed to talk.
It wasn't until he verbally attacked board member Adelita Grijalva that Stegeman gave him a warning, but allowed him to proceed. It's one reason Grijalva says she supports the agenda item.
"I'm concerned about the consistency and some of the messages that we're giving to the community and I really want the focus to be what the district is doing in roads that we're trying to make in repairing our reputation in the community," she said, "I think that this has been a difficult year in general. I mean I think we've been dealing with some issues that are really difficult and so I'm not saying I necessarily feel like I could do a better job but I think that it is an opportunity for us to sort of talk about whatever our issues are."
Stegeman still defends his actions to try and restore order in both cases, but he admits he wishes there hadn't been arrests and says those procedures have since been revised. As for the fellow board members turned against him, he says he'll concede to whatever is best for the district.
"The board should have confidence in its leadership and if most of the board members want to make a change that's fine I'm happy to serve the board in whatever capacity makes people comfortable," he said, "There's only four months left in the year, being the president has not been an easy job this year and in some ways it's not a bad idea to be rid of it, I really didn't mind."
The board is set to discuss new officers during their meeting August 23rd.