KGUN 9News


New TUSD board president puts superintendent in the hot seat

Posted at 8:09 PM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 22:25:51-05
Tucson Unified has a new board president. Michael Hicks was voted president in a surprise unanimous vote. His appointment breaks the 4-year run of Adelita Grijalva.  

"It's a new day. It's a new board," said Hicks.

And the pressure is on the superintendent now. Hicks has been highly critical of H.T. Sanchez's performance, including voting against Sanchez's $50,000 -- 24 percent raise -- two years ago while teachers only received a $500 boost in base pay. 

Hicks: "I'm being pressured to fire him." 
Cavazos: "By?" 
Hicks: "By the public. A few in the public. I'm not ready to just up and up fire him. If he is fired, it will be justified."
Hicks said he wants to give Sanchez the opportunity to prove himself, but Hicks says the superintendent will undergo intense scrutiny on board priorities, like the budget.
Hicks: "We need to have meetings where we just discuss the budget. Not just presentations (at board meetings) on pie charts and graphs." 
Cavazos: "That's all you were getting?" 
Hicks: "Yeah." 
Discipline problems are at the top of his priority list as well. Hicks has reacted strongly to staff complaints and KGUN9 investigations that showed the district downplayed severe discipline problems to reduce suspensions and expulsions, which led to a dramatic increase in fighting and assaults on students and staff.
He said he wants the practice of district administrators doling out the discipline -- rather than principals and teachers -- to end.
"I wasn't born yesterday. I know this was going on, so don't. Just stop. It's a new day now. Let's move forward. I'll move forward with the current board and current administration as long as it's working," he said. 
And if the administration, specifically Sanchez, doesn't fall in step with the new board's direction and directives? "I'll be honest, I'm not above going after and leading the charge against firing him," said Hicks.

We reached out to Superintendent Sanchez asking for an interview on these issues. The district responded that Sanchez declines to comment on board matters. 

We also reached out to TUSD board members to comment on Hick's appointment:

"I nominated Michael Hicks to be our next Board president because, although we haven't necessarily worked well together in the past, he absolutely has student and teachers' best interest in mind. He truly wants to improve the schools in our community and see TUSD succeed."   
Kristel Ann Foster
TUSD Governing Board