KGUN 9News


Tucson Unified School District superintendent H.T. Sanchez resigns

Board accepts his resignation, dismisses contract
Posted at 5:52 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 20:24:21-05

H.T,. Sanchez is no longer superintendent of Tucson's largest school district.

The TUSD governing board voted 3 to 2 to accept his resignation and approve a separation and release agreement signed by Sanchez.

Board members Michael Hicks, Mark Stegeman, and Rachael Sedgwick voted to dismiss the superintendent's contract and board members Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster voted against the decision. 

Sanchez has been under fire for years now. KGUN9 launched an investigation more than two years ago into unsafe playground surfacing at open schools and dangerous equipment at closed school. After much opposition, the probe led to changes  in safety procedures and the removal of dangerous playground equipment.
Many teachers and parents were furious when Sanchez received a 24 percent pay raise -- $50 -thousand -- while teachers received a $500 pay hike. 
TUSD staff, parents and students came forward with alarming stories of severe discipline problems at many school and our investigation uncovered the district downplayed and under-report incidents to reduce suspensions and expulsions. 
And this school year, several schools losing their magnet status under Sanchez's leadership brought more scrutiny from the public and alleged misuse of Prop 301 money -- totaling more than 10 million -- created a tremendous rift between staff and the administration.
It was another packed board room of parents, staff and community members for or against Sanchez leaving the district.
Board members took their seats, but Sanchez's chair remained empty. Then the board room drama unfolded immediately following the motion to accept Sanchez's resignation.
Kristel Foster and Adelita Grijalva --  the majority on the board who voted about 97 percent in favor of Sanchez's actions -- took shots fellow board members -- firing first at Mark Stegeman.
"Email after email statement after statement and vote after vote you never ever support or celebrate or acknowledge the success of our traditional school district," said Kristel Foster.
Stegeman responded, "Anyone is free to look at my Facebook page and I think you'll find many positives comments about TUSD there."
Grijalva said, "I'm going to be very frank, and say that in my opinion it has been a witch hunt after our superintendent. This is going to have a chilling affect in our district."
Sedgwick said, "I look forward to working with this board to serve every single student in TUSD. And I know whatever we vote on this item, we all have the best interest of the students in mind."
Before the vote, Grijalva read a letter written by Sanchez to the community. 
Sanchez's statement included: "I leave with great pride in all that we have accomplished for our students, their families and our city. I look forward to spending time with my beautiful wife and wonderful children. It's their turn to be my focus. I wish TUSD nothing but success. Your truly Heliodoro Sanchez, Junior."
Then came the 3-2 to accept Sanchez's resignation, effective immediately.
Deputy superintendent Karen Kopec assumes the role as acting superintendent until TUSD finds an interim.
Hicks told KGUN9 that he hopes to have several superintendent candidates for the public to interview and one in place before the start of next school year.

Sanchez released the following letter:


Decision about TUSD superintendent will be postponed

TUSD superintendent's future could be in question

Move to fire TUSD superintendent hits snag

TUSD Superintendent's contract will be discussed