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Why did TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez resign?

Arizona Auditor General report on TUSD released
Posted at 8:49 PM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 00:24:30-05
TUSD is now looking for a new superintendent after H.T. Sanchez handed in his resignation. It appeared two board members attempted to fire the superintendent, but the vote had been postponed two weeks in a row -- until Tuesday night. The board voted 3-to-2 to accept Sanchez's resignation. This came a day before the Arizona Auditor General report is released.
 
The boardroom drama unfolded at the start of the Tuesday's public meeting. Sanchez is absent -- Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster clearly upset.
 
"With three votes -- none of which would have been mine -- was ready to fire our superintendent," said Foster, who read a long statement on Sanchez's successes and criticism of fellow board members.
 
Grijalva said, "In my opinion, it has been a witch hunt after our superintendent."
 
Sedgwick: "It was absolutely not a witch hunt. There is no -- in my mind, a witch hunt is looking for something that doesn't really exist. It's attacking unfairly.
Cavazos: "Did you have things that existed that would warrant you possibly considering the firing of Dr. Sanchez?"
Sedgwick: That, I don't want to comment on."
 
And here's why. A non-disparagement clause in the separation and release agreement. It states all the board members agree to refrain from making derogatory statements about the other (Sanchez).
 
Cavazos: "Was your decision based on what you found out in executive session?"
Hicks: "My decision was based off of what I found out in executive session and personal  communications with individuals."
 
It states in the agreement that Sanchez's personnel file shall reflect that he voluntarily resigned from his employment. "Dr. Sanchez did a wonderful thing for TUSD," said Sedgwick. She said with a new board going in a different direction than Sanchez; it was best for the district and Sanchez to part ways.
 
Sedgwick and Hicks say they plan to build on Sanchez's successes, but want to move forward with solving some immediate concerns that KGUN9 also investigated. Such as student achievement declines related to discipline issues.
 
Released Tuesday, the Arizona Auditor General's report that AZMerit scores fall below peer group and statewide averages in Math. Click here to view the report. 
 
Though Sanchez vowed to reduce administration costs and raise classroom spending, the report shows the cost far exceeds peer and state averages and classroom spending flat-lined. 
 
KGUN9 also investigated severe discipline issues led to alleged grade changing last school year by the principal at Pueblo HS. "I have a grave issue with that. Not knowing exactly what has transpired in that. I do want to look into that," said Hicks.
 
Sanchez departs with a flat $200,000 -- what appears to be about half of what he would have received if he had stayed on until the end of his contract June of 2018.
 
Not only was Sanchez missing in last night's board meeting, two board member, Kristel Foster and Adelita Grijalva, did not sign the separation agreement, even though Sanchez voluntarily resigned.
 
KGUN9 also reached out Foster, Grijalva and Mark Stegeman, who voted to accept Sanchez's resignation, for interviews or statements.
 
Adelita Grijalva: 
This community deserves better than a board, working in collusion, to fire Dr. Sanchez. While a small minority may feel victorious, the vast majority of our parents, students, staff and community are saddened and frustrated. Both Ms. Foster and I are in the dark, like the rest of TUSD, about what comes next. 
Kristel Foster: 
As a board member left out of all the decisions leading up to Dr. Sanchez's resignation, I have the same questions as the community. What happened and what will this new Board majority do next? 
 
Mark Stegeman: 
I would much like to comment on the resignation and separation agreement but am waiting for guidance from TUSD's counsel on how much I can legally say.
 
The chronic hostile and personal comments from some board members toward other board members are destructive and should stop. I hope that the board schedules a retreat, as soon as possible, to address this and related issues.
 
Three top priorities are: (1) directing more money out of central administration and into schools and classrooms; (2) clarifying disciplinary policies and establishing policies and practices that create a safe environment for students and staff at all schools; (3) implement a truly anonymous survey across employee groups, to improve the board's understanding of TUSD's strengths and weaknesses and possible steps toward improvement.
 
KGUN9 will continue to follow developments in our investigations on the grade changing allegations, severe discipline issues, and Prop 301 monies.