The strange case of Michael Hicks, the Grijalvas and Auggie Romero

A strange thing happened this week in TUSD…

At this last Tuesday’s board meeting was a vote for the renewal of contracts for all the principals. This included the renewal of Pueblo HS Principal Auggie Romero who has been beleaguered with many scandals; he was reprimanded for being physically violent at a national conference, accused of changing grades and violating state law and allowing their basketball gym to be vandalized through negligence at the cost of around $1,000,000 in damage.

At the Tuesday meeting, the board voted to release the results of the grade-changing scandal which you can read below.

After all this drama, the TUSD board finally had a chance to get rid of Auggie Romero for good, and there was only one person who stood in the way of making that a reality: Michael Hicks.

Then things really started to get strange…

First of all, it became known to insiders before the meeting that Hicks had struck a deal to renew Auggie Romero’s contract. Only time would reveal if this would turn out to be true… it did.

What comes next is a summary of both the TUSD board meeting and a subsequent interview he did with Christopher DeSimone on Wake Up Tucson Wednesday morning.

  • The item to renew contracts comes up and immediately Adelita Grijalva makes a motion to approve followed by a quick second from Kristel Foster.
  • Then Rachael Sedgwick begins to describe several principals she would like pulled from the list so the board can discuss whether they really want to renew their contracts due to issues that have arisen. One of those included Auggie Romero.
  • A nasty and childish back and forth ensues, but strangely Michael Hicks stays silent the entire time.
  • When the vote comes up, Adelita is a YES, Kristel Foster is a YES… and then up next is Hicks. He is also a YES. Rachael is next and she hesitates for a moment as if confused as to what just occurred and she says NO followed by a NO from Mark Stegeman.
  • At this point Auggie Romero’s contract is approved.
  • After April 1st, which is this Easter Sunday and with only one workday between now and then, there is nothing that can be done to undo this contract renewal.

I was watching and live-tweeting (on FB also) about this whole process. After Romero’s contract was approved I tagged KVOI morning radio host Chris DeSimone about what just happened.

The following morning during the 8am hour, Chris starts going off as to how he doesn’t know how in hell Hicks could have done this. He says that if Hicks is listening, he can call in. The first segment is filled with disbelief about Hicks’ actions from Chris. You can listen to this enlightening segment using the link below.

Hicks calls in during the commercial break and the second segment is devoted to a discussion on this issue. It was actually really good and I had to relisten to it today. Chris just could not understand Hicks’ justifications for that vote. This is where some deeper issues arise:

  • First Hicks says that it’s not his fault and that it’s basically Rachael’s fault for wanting to pull several names from the approval.
  • Chris holds the fire to Hicks’ feet and says that he still voted to approve Romero’s contract.
  • Then Hicks takes a new approach and says that his job is pretty much to rubber-stamp what the superintendent gives him. This is complete bullshit considering all the drama we just went through with the previous superintendent and board members who rubber-stamped everything HT Sanchez did were ridiculed by Hicks.
  • Hicks mentions that Romero’s record was completely clean, but if so then why was Romero suspended without pay less than a year ago?
  • Back and forth ensues, and Hicks is blaming everyone but himself, acting as if he did not have the power to vote no.
  • Hicks continues to say that it is his job to not question the superintendent and to approve ALL positions that he recommends.

This last part is key. Later on in the interview, frustrated, Hicks blurts out that the original plan was to just pull Romero’s contract…

But wait a second… Hicks just said that he is only supposed to rubber-stamp all positions, and now he is contradicting himself by mentioning a plan to pull Romero’s contract?

If that weren’t bad enough, it takes just a moment’s thought to realize that if there was a plan to pull Romero’s contract by Mark Stegeman, Rachael Sedgwick and Hicks, that would constitute an Open Meetings Violation as the three of them form a quorum!

Hicks just opened up a can of worms:

  1. Were insiders correct when they revealed that Hicks already made a deal to save Auggie’s job in exchange for who knows what, but we do know he wants to run for Ward 4 next year.
  2. Is Hicks admitting that he is just a rubber-stamp who is supposed to approve everything and anything that the superintendent proposes? If so, he has become what he hated in Cam Juarez.
  3. If Hicks is not a rubber-stamp, and if there was a plan to pull Romero’s contract, then why did he flee in fear from fulfilling that plan?
  4. If there was a plan as Hicks mentioned there was, was there an open-meeting violation as three board members formed a quorum in their plan to be rid of Romero?

Luckily Three Sonorans is not the only media asking questions. KGUN9’s Valerie Cavasos has already had several stories after the board meeting investigating what has happened.

As one final thought, the teacher who had her grades changed illegally by Auggie Romero was not just any substitute teacher, but a certified teacher with over 30 years of experience. Sotelo was also one of the Mexican American Studies teachers who filed suit against the state of Arizona for their unconstitutional ban of the successful program.

For what it’s worth, Pueblo HS also just lost its Magnet status under Romero’s watch for not complying with federal desegregation court orders.

The fact that Auggie Romero continues to attack and smear the reputation of former MAS teachers is despicable, all made worse by his real and violent actions including breaking state law just to boost his graduation numbers at the southside school. Auggie Romero is a remnant of the HT Sanchez era who uses the same numbers-fudging tactics and someone who remains with TUSD another year all thanks to Michael Hicks.

One comment

  1. Glad to receive this. I cannot figure out this FB page with all the stories from elsewhere, so I miss your stories, DA!

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