June 27th Board Meeting: Is this a Joke?
The June 27th Board meeting was filled with dysfunction. It was almost like a slap-stick comedy routine. What type of leadership loads a Board agenda up with 56 items? It shows unadulterated stupidity.
Mark Stegeman sort-of attended the meeting- on and off -as he connected and then disconnected on the telephone. He was at a hospital in Denver probably having to do with a family member’s medical needs but no explanation was ever provided. He had no agenda or any notes and had to keep asking questions over issues which had already been covered. It took a few tries to even get him on the phone. It was disruptive. At one point his child grabbed the phone out of his hand and decided to talk. It just added chaos. Because Mark was not physically present, Kristel-salivating-at-the-mouth-to-be-Board-President took over the President’s role. It was outrageous.
MEAN-girl-Kristel is so power hungry, yet her conduct during the Board meeting ruined about the only chance she has had to show any type of Board leadership. (We said leadership not “power-grab!”) She has a habit of repeating whatever she says way too many times in her attempts to communicate and trips over her words on a constant basis. This habit is particularly bothersome when she tries to take charge. It shows her lack of ability to think quickly. She layers everything with piles of artificial sweetener, to the point of total phoniness. We all know that she is a MEAN-girl, but in her role as wanna-be-Board-President, she was MEAN on super steroids! Really, really MEAN-girl Kristel Foster had her fangs out as she bent over backwards to gag Rachael Sedgwick from speaking.
As usual, she was also nasty to Mark and even tried to disallow his speaking. At one point, she was screaming, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” attempting to shut Rachael up. Rachael just kept on talking. And a few times she would call on Rob Ross to give a legal opinion on whether it was OK for Rachael to be speaking. She was really asking him to rescue her. He didn’t. Honestly, she ran the meeting WORSE than Mark Stegeman, which is saying a lot! We hope that she is never put in the role of Board President. It would be the end of any remaining hope for professionalism and leadership on the Board. Mark did seem to serve one single purpose when he was on the phone, which was to make sure that Kristel did not run the meeting and that Mike immediately get elected as Board President. It took only a few minutes to remove Kristel-MEAN-girl’s unleashed power. Mark asked Mike if he would like to be Board President. Mike said yes. Within minutes three votes put Mike in power and snatched the MEAN-girl’s gavel away from her. She literally began mumbling to herself, stunned by the robbery.
She must think that she can manipulate and fool Mike with her flirtatious ways. It is sickening to watch and it must turn his stomach (we hope). As Kristel Foster whispered to Mike Hicks during the meeting (which is rude- because we can hear it) and leaned over and gently touched his arm several times, she had to be aware of how much she is disliked by him, Mark, and Rachael. Or maybe she is just oblivious. Either way, she is a fool! We take great pride in having branded her “MEAN-girl” since we hear so many people in the schools and in the community refer to her as “MEAN-girl-Foster.” We now know that she is a desperate “MEAN-girl.” The desperation just seems to heighten the meanness.
When Rachael does her homework and thinks through what is going to come out of her mouth, she does OK. But so much of the time, her mouth is running while her brain is on stand-by. She is literally not thinking through what she is saying. Sometimes it feels like we are hearing her think through an idea for the first time…and after several minutes of going around and around, she decides that the idea she has spit out is dreadful. She either needs meds or she needs to prepare better for the meeting. Maybe both. Right now she takes up a lot of time in empty-talk and it has to stop. We agree with Mike on this 100% but he has to be able to run the meeting without getting into combat with her. It makes both of them look like terrible.
Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo did not do too well on Tuesday night either. We are afraid that he is leading the District into a financial crisis. The Board voted in his budget so now the Board is complicit. Everyone who cares about TUSD needs to watch the budget very carefully because we believe that Trujillo will soon begin to rob Peter to pay Paul.
Even with visual cues right in front of him,Trujillo blew the appointment for Gridley Middle School and recommended that Dinah McGlory be appointed to Dodge as Principal instead of Gridley. She was supposed to have been appointed to Gridley! Legally, the Board will have to take action to correct this and if it is not taken, one of us will report it to the Attorney General. The Board and Superintendent have got to get their act together!
The appointment of Frank Rosthenhausler as Interim Principal at Pueblo is a gigantic concern. Trujillo knew about the vacancy at Pueblo before he knew of several other principals departing from their schools, yet these other schools got permanent principals. Trujillo is oblivious about Frank’s history in pressuring teachers to change grades for his protected athletes and playing with discipline numbers. And while on the topic of athletes, we hope that Trujillo looks into the illegal recruitment practices of athletes at Pueblo. Frank knows exactly what is going on. AIA would not be happy! The prolonged appointment of Mark Alvarez as interim assistant supt. for another year shows that Trujillo is NOT recruiting or hiring highly qualified people. He said it himself; The reason for having “interim” status is due to not being able to recruit and hire highly qualified individuals. Trujillo has had almost a year to recruit and hire for Mark’s position. Mark has been on interim status for more than two years. Should we start referring to TUSD as TIUSD- Tucson Interim Unified School District?
The June 27th meeting was one of the very worst. The TUSD Governing Board is a joke and its administration is part of the gag. Do you want to know why so many people are leaving TUSD? Just go to a Board meeting or stream a Board meeting.
Conflict of Interest: Lorraine Richardson and Kelly Langford
If you are someone who has read the Whistleblower letters over the last few years, you know that we are supporters of the desegregation court order. Our group is comprised of members who are spread throughout the District so we have the ongoing opportunity of comparing what one school receives in programs, resources, administrators, teachers, support staff, etc. Our group has all racial/ethnic and age groups represented in it and we can say, without question, that east side and especially north east side schools have more experienced teachers and administrators and also have suitable resources. West side and south side schools lack in experienced teachers and administrators and resources are not comparable. West side and south side schools have a disproportionate number of substitute teachers in contrast to north east and east side schools. We could go on with an endless list, even including the difference in the number of field trip opportunities but the point is: There are a lot of inequalities! What is interesting is that many of us who work in north east or east side schools would have never believed that there were such stark differences until we became part of the Whistleblower group and began very deep discussions about the disparities between our schools. It is ridiculous for the District to claim that it has complied with the court order because we think that it is obvious to everyone that it has not.
Because we support the desegregation court order, we do not like throwing stones at anything or anyone associated with it since we believe that the desegregation court order and all who are associated with it have already been vilified by TUSD and those in the community who lack a good understanding of desegregation or who have believed TUSD’s hype. But when we met a few weeks ago to discuss important issues for upcoming letters, there was consensus that our group needed to address some very obvious ethical and maybe even legal conflicts of interest by those who are involved in the desegregation case, representing the Fisher Plaintiffs and the Special Master.
We have contacts in Human Resources, Payroll, and other departments who have provided us with information that has verified what we are reporting.
Lorraine Richardson is a Fisher Plaintiffs’ representative. She has been a Fisher Plaintiffs’ representative for years. She and Gloria Copeland work together in this role. Lorraine retired from TUSD and receives a hefty retirement check from the State Retirement System. During part of the time that Lorraine has been a Plaintiffs’ representative, she has also been contracted by TUSD to work as a hearing officer. She has also worked at Dietz as a learning support coordinator but her real function was to fill in the role of an assistant principal regardless of what title she was given. We also know directly and indirectly that the Dietz Administration (Ms. Steele) worked it so that Lorraine would lobby for support for Dietz in her role as a representative. For a while Lorraine also volunteered at Dietz so she kept in contact with the Dietz Administration and was informed about what was needed at Dietz so that Lorraine could incorporate into the Fisher’s requests (none of this was very subtle). This may sound like a great opportunity for Dietz but it actually raises all kinds of ethical and legal questions about Lorraine’s role as a representative.
One of us remembers being asked by a high-level administrator why Lorraine seemed to have such a fixation on Dietz and the administrator was told about Lorraine’s position at Dietz. The administrator about fell over.
Over a year ago it was determined that there was a legal conflict to contract Lorraine to do work for TUSD. We chased the source of this dictate and found out that it came out of the Legal Department. Lorraine was not happy that she had been cut off. She was earning a very healthy amount for part-time work and when she saw a change in the Legal Department before the start of this last school year, she lobbied Dr. Gabriel Trujillo to get back one of her gigs. He instructed staff to get Lorraine hired (just like that!) and she was contracted once again as a hearing officer. Does anyone see a play for pay scenario here; a quid pro quo? The gig pays about 200 dollars for EACH hearing (usually less than an hour). If a hearing officer has 2 hearings in one day- it is 400 dollars. If a hearing officer has 3 or 4 hearings in one week- it is between 6 and 8 hundred dollars. No wonder she was so troubled by getting cut off. She asked Trujillo for a “favor” and he obliged. She will say it has not influenced her at all and will be insulted that her integrity is being challenged! It is. The whole way this came down is the perfect description of quid pro quo.
We do not understand how Lorraine can represent the interest of African American students and at the same time be a hearing officer in a system that is not designed to have the best interest of African American students. She is provided by facts and information on the suspension of the students by TUSD and she makes her decisions based on the facts and information that is provided. As a contracted hearing officer, she becomes part of the problem instead of the solution and she loses objectivity in examining anything having to do with discipline or Dietz as a representative.
We have pointed out that there are no Fisher Plaintiffs in this case in the past and legally we will once again state that we do not understand how there are Plaintiffs’ representatives when there are no Plaintiffs.
Kelly Langford also retired from TUSD and draws a hefty retirement check. Kelly also worked as a hearing officer while he was a Fisher Plaintiffs’ representative but, like Lorraine, his work with the District was terminated due to the Legal Department’s determination that it was a conflict of interest. Kelly changed his role from representative to working directly for the Special Master. We learned this when we saw him at various schools. This last school year he and the rest of the Special Master’s Team were at Catalina High School and discovered some very serious problems. Within a few days the biggest of the problems had been fixed. After years of living with the problem, we thought that it was a miracle. Then, about a week or two before the end of the school year, Kelly Langford was seen at Catalina High School by one or more of our members. Thinking that he was there to solve yet another problem, there was great excitement until we found out that this time he had his hearing officer hat on. We were very disappointed when this information was brought to our entire group.
Where exactly are any ethical lines drawn anymore? Just like Lorraine, Kelly had been pulled from his role as a hearing officer and by the same source: former Chief Legal Counsel, Todd Jaeger. Did the law change? No. Did ethics change? Yes! Who made the decision this time? Rob Ross? Gabriel Trujillo? TUSD uses its employment/contracts with individuals like Lorraine and Kelly as a type of seduction to charm them and muddy the waters. There is no way that Kelly Langford can monitor what he has ALSO his hands in. It is impossible.
Both of these individuals need to be removed from their direct financial ties to TUSD. Each needs to decide to which purse strings they want to be tied. Right now the ties are in knots and the Fisher Plaintiffs and Special Master will suffer for it, while TUSD gets away with pulling the strings and making the knots.