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Pueblo HS Principal suspended without pay

Posted at 6:49 PM, Sep 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 21:49:14-04

A TUSD principal mired in controversy was suspended for two days without pay -- months ago.

Public records just obtained by 9OYS reveal a top administrator determined Pueblo High School principal Auggie Romero violated not only district policies a handful of times, but state law -- issues KGUN9 investigated for more than a year.

A scathing memo had been hand delivered to principal Auggie Romero in late April -- 2 months after former Superintendent H-T Sanchez resigned. The author of the 4-page memo is former assistant superintendent Abel Morado. In it, he chastised Romero for "insubordination" and "unprofessionalism" -- saying his lapses in judgment have brought disfavor and disrepute to Pueblo, Tucson Unified and Romero himself.

Morado actually recommended harsher discipline -- *10 days suspension.

Abel Morado addresses point-by-point serious allegations lobbed at Pueblo principal Auggie Romero, beginning with "The Grade Changing Incident."

Teacher Yolanda Sotelo came to KGUN9 in 2016 claiming Romero changed the grades of 6 Pueblo High School students without her permission -- a violation of state law and district policy. She provided proof -- her grade sheets.

The memo reveals outside legal counsel investigated the allegations and found Romero "did change the student's grades." After our investigation aired Romero turned to social media and claimed his supervisor, Abel Morado, directed him to change the grades, but Morado states in the memo, that wasn't the case. 

He wrote that he had reminded Romero he needed to get the teacher to change grades and Romero's "failure to comply with the very simple directive caused all of the controversy."

Board member Mark Stegeman says he only recently got his hands on the memo though he tried for months to get access to all the  information.

Stegeman said, "So when something seems to be going seriously awry, then the board has the statutory right and even ethical responsibility at least to look at it."

Morado also addressed an email we reported on in March. Romero sent an email to staff explaining why he changed his mind about retiring at the end of the 2016 school year. He then asked for "support during this stressful, perplexing, and troubling time."

|Morado states in the memo that Romero misused his position as principal to win sympathy and advantage and criticized the district unfairly -- violating district policy. Romero was also chastised for failing to immediately notify him of a break-in at Pueblo, which put student and staff safety at risk. Morado stated that "constitutes insubordination."

The memo reveals Morado intended to impose a 10-day suspension -- without pay. Board member Rachael Sedgwick said, "He made a recommendation for a particular consequence, but that consequence never came about so then the question becomes why. He recommended a 10 day suspension and the suspension becomes a 2-day suspension and why is it that the board is so left in the dark."

Records show a TUSD hearing officer only considered the email to staff and the break-in at Pueblo -- not the grade changing incident. Romero appealed the *2-Day suspension calling the discipline excessive.

But the hearing officer determined the 2-day suspension was indeed warranted. Romero, a "highly experienced administrator," "should have known better" and he exhibited a "gross lapse in judgment."

KGUN9 requested interviews with Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo and Romero, but they declined. We reached out to Abel Morado, but haven't gotten a response.