Endorsements for TUSD School Board 2018

Below our analysis of the TUSD school board race, we include endorsements from other places, including the local newspaper, TUSD board members, and the TUSD Whistleblowers.

We will get right to the point: the moment Adelita Grijalva decided to jump back into the race the entire balance and hope for Democrats was destroyed; we will now explain how.

There are two seats open belonging to incumbents Michael Hicks and Adelita Grijalva. Since Adelita was not seeking re-election, Adam Ragan and Leila Counts were recruited or encouraged to run. At this point, both of them had a strong chance of winning.

Now neither of them may… all because of Grijalva.

Let’s do a simple analysis. While the race is non-partisan, we have the clear left and right here. You have Michael Hicks who became a hero to the right-wing as he read his resolution banning MAS along with Mark Stegeman, and you have a candidate that Mark has recruited (his letter is below): Doug Robson.

So if you are one of the many voters in this school district who does not like the Grijalva G-Unit, the choice is clear; you vote for Hicks and Robson as a combo.

Now, what if you do love the G-Unit and are a loyal Democrat? The choice was easy before; you would vote for Ragan and Leila, and united they would win. Now they may not have a chance at all.

Why not? Because Democrats and the G-Unit clearly have to support Adelita first, but who do you spend your second vote on?

Now enters the Grijalva/Barber split.  Adam Ragan clearly had an advantage with the whole southside Machine walking for him, but Leila Counts was no pushover and got the important white eastside crew to back her up; folks like former Rep. Ron Barber and canvassing with the LD9 crew and raising tons of money.

Keep in mind this is just a strategic analysis and not a reflection of the morals or ethics of any of the candidates. Well, except for one. The ethics of Adelita and her desire to maintain nearly two decades of control over TUSD has destroyed the chances of having two Democrats (Adelita along with either Adam or Leila) and thus nothing changes. Their vote is split. Democrats have to decide to vote either Adelita/Adam or Adelita/Leila. Meanwhile, the right gets to unite behind a Hicks/Robson ticket.

The Arizona Daily Star did offer another alternative. They endorsed Adam and Leila. But seriously, do you really think don Raul and his G-Unit will allow his princess to go out like that?

So I will only offer up the following predictions and let you read the endorsements below, and you can decide for yourself.

First place: Adelita Grijalva

Second place: Michael Hicks

Third place: Doug Robson

Fourth place: Leila Counts

Fifth place: Adam Ragan

Conclusion: There is no change coming to TUSD this election cycle. And if the Hicks/Robson ticket really is united, it may be Adelita in third place if Democrats decide to take the advice of the Arizona Daily Star.


Click below to expand the Arizona Daily Star endorsements.

Arizona Daily Star endorsements
The Star’s Editorial Board endorses Leila Counts and Adam Ragan for the Governing Board.

The Star’s Editorial Board endorses Leila Counts and Adam Ragan for the Governing Board. It is time for a change on the fractious Governing Board. They are both educators with hands-on experience we think will be valuable.

They are running against two long-term incumbents, Adelita Grijalva and Michael Hicks. The fifth candidate, Doug Robson, owns a real estate management firm and does not present himself as well-versed in educational issues beyond generalities.


Click below to expand TUSD Watchdog Lillian Fox’s letter.

TUSD watchdog Lillian Fox
If you haven't already voted, please write in Betts Putnam-Hidalgo for TUSD, at least as a protest against the awful slate of candidates.

My other vote is for Mr. Hicks because he’s honest, if not smooth. Both sides of the board oppose him because he doesn’t block vote with either side. He votes for what he thinks is best.

Adam Ragan is running as “the only certified teacher.” He’s in his 3rd month teaching high school. His ‘certification’ is one of those special Az certifications for people who don’t meet the requirements for certification.

Ms. Counts is claiming Mr. Hicks threw something at another board member over arming teachers. Not true! In case I missed something, I asked two other people who were there. They both agree it didn’t happen. This wasn’t even a contentious discussion.

Adelita Grijalva was board president and controlled a 3 vote majority block during the years that [former superintendent HT] Sanchez held back up to $14 million in teachers’ 301 performance money to cover his overspending of other funds.

During that time, TUSD’s student discipline code went unenforced and Sanchez passed out illegal, unapproved raises and bonuses of $3k, $4k, $10k, $19k, $24k and even $30k to various directors and cabinet members.

TPD sent Sanchez two letters about the failure to report aggravated assaults in schools. There were numerous media reports about bullying and assaults in TUSD schools. Parent after parent complained at board meetings about bullying and assaults on their students.

Write in Betts!

Thank you,
Lillian Fox


Click below to expand TUSD board member Mark Stegeman’s endorsements.

Mark Stegeman endorsements
My strong recommendation is to vote for Doug Robson. As with Rachael Sedgwick in 2016, this is the vote that is most likely to bring a new perspective and change into TUSD.

Dear supporters and correspondents,

This note provides my perspective on the TUSD board candidates and a recommendation. Board members serve at-large (not by wards), and their terms are staggered. This year Adelita Grijalva and Michael Hicks are running for reelection, against three challengers. Grijalva is running for her fifth term, Hicks for his third.

Too much discussion of board members and candidates focuses on the specific personalities and their conflicts and alliances. A recent article in the Star focused on the members’ and candidates’ alliances and rivalries while saying almost nothing about what any of them have done or the agendas that they would pursue. This can be entertaining but does little to inform voters who care about the substantive issues.

TUSD remains at a tipping point, so policy stances are important.

TUSD’s steady steep enrollment decline, the Arizona Auditor General’s relentlessly negative comparisons to peer districts, and other data, confirm that TUSD needs deep changes. I think these changes should include its compensation structure, how it evaluates both teachers and administrators, how it uses its limited financial resources, its management of human resources, academic standards, etc.

Some positive changes are occurring, as discussed in my last letter, but it seems clear that taking TUSD to the next level will require fresh thinking on the board. We need to get past the siege mentality that resents Arizona’s competitive educational environment, toward a commitment to learn from more successful districts and charter schools and meet that competition head-on.

You can vote for up to two candidates.

I recommend Doug Robson, because he:

  • is a strong advocate for public education and maintaining the strength of the traditional districts;
  • is a retired successful entrepreneur (in real estate management), and would fill a gap in a board that currently has no representation from the business community;
  • is gentlemanly and gracious, disinclined to speak negatively about anyone, and wants to bring greater comity and cooperation to the board;
  • has no personal investment in the board’s past decisions and understands that TUSD needs major changes (but also supports Dr. Trujillo);
  • has demonstrated commitment to TUSD by serving for years as a community representative on a school site council where he had no children attending (but has also had two daughters graduate from TUSD);
  • has attended numerous board meetings, usually (but unusually for a candidate) staying to the bitter end, so that he can understand everything that is happening;
  • has long been a registered Independent and has no other political ambitions.

There is more information at his website and in the statement posted at the County Superintendent of Schools website. I hope that you consider his candidacy.

None of the other four candidates offer the same kind of fresh voice.

Adelita Grijalva, Adam Ragan, and Leila Counts appear to have similar policy positions, to the extent that they discuss policy. Though policy views do not always fit neatly on a liberal/conservative spectrum, it is probably fair to say that all three come from the liberal end of the local Democratic party. More important to me, they all seem attached to TUSD’s longstanding status quo.

Adam Ragan has a familiar set of endorsements from the core Democratic Party establishment, is endorsed by Adelita Grijalva, and has been receiving help from the Grijalva organization.

Leila Counts has fewer endorsements from the Democratic party’s current officials and office-holders. Her endorsements come more from the wider ring of the Democratic party (e.g. from Ron Barber). She also has endorsements from several respected and long-retired former board members who represent, more or less, TUSD’s old guard.

Ragan led TUSD’s bond campaign last year, which failed with a 59% No vote. Counts helped to lead the “Strong Start” (preschool tax) campaign last year, which attracted bipartisan opposition and failed with a 66% No vote.

Choosing only among these three candidates, I would vote for Counts, because she is relatively independent and would probably increase the board’s collegiality. I cannot endorse her, however, because I doubt that she would support the changes that I think are necessary to raise TUSD’s performance and compete effectively for students. Her policy agenda is much different from mine.

The fifth candidate, Michael Hicks, has been a critical member of the “new” board created by Rachael Sedgwick’s election in 2016. Without his support and vote, most of the positive changes described in my last constituent letter would not have happened. Yet he has mostly supported incremental changes, while blocking larger changes.

During 2018 the board has cast 51 (substantive) split votes, of which 26 were 3-2 votes. Sedgwick and I voted together in all 26 of those votes; Hicks supported our position 15 times and opposed it 11 times. In those 11 votes, Sedgwick and I generally took the position that was either more fiscally conservative or represented a greater break from the status quo.

If you are unsure whom to support, then I encourage you to study those votes. They are listed in an attachment to my previous letter. Of course, I do not assume that everyone who gets this letter agrees with all my positions on those issues, but it is good, at least, to know what decisions board members have made. For an organization with a nearly half billion dollar budget, that is more important than who likes whom.

I repeat: my strong recommendation is to vote for Doug Robson. As with Rachael Sedgwick in 2016, this is the vote that is most likely to bring a new perspective and change into TUSD.

During a general election, most people understandably focus on the state and national races. If you think that this note is useful, then I encourage you to send it on to your friends. Just as in 2016, the stakes in this TUSD election are high.

– Mark


Click below to expand TUSD board member Rachael Sedgwick’s endorsements.

Rachael Sedgwick endorsements
The people who endorse Adelita and Adam for TUSD SB are the same people who defamed me, who claimed they would try to recall me in 2017 for 'white supremacy.'

The people who endorse Adelita and Adam for TUSD SB are the same people who defamed me, who claimed they would try to recall me in 2017 for “white supremacy.” Of course, it all came to quiet apologies that I received from bashful church-goers who compromised their integrity for the sake of…what? I was not sure until now.

Raul Grijalva is the most powerful politician in S AZ, in office for over 30 years, and he has the support of Ducey, McSally, Rothschild, the City Council, The Board of Supervisors, the Corporate Commission, the list goes on.

He pays for his daughter’s campaign, for her anti-TUSD Board PACs, and he lends her the voices of his cronies. I can only guess at what they are promised in return.

He does the same for Adelita’s friend Adam. Of course, they owe him—he showed up at our board meetings to preach white supremacy despite that it was Foster’s campaign manager who catfished me (check YouTube for the story if you don’t know it).

These “Democrats” are in bed with anyone who can help them maintain their own power, and each is in it only for selfish personal gain. For example, Adelita is endorsed by Clarence Boykins, but she has done nothing for the African American students, teachers, or administrators of TUSD: look at the numbers.

Why do you suppose the African American and Mexican American TUSD Plaintiff Representatives do not endorse her—even go so far as to stand against her? Her campaign is a charade, a hoax on TUSD, Tucson, and Southern Arizona. I beg you to vote for new minds, fresh perspectives, and NOT politics as usual. Or we can all expect a whole lot more of the same in Tucson and S AZ.

You are welcome to share this with whomever you choose, and anyone can reach out to me for more information.


Click on the following link to expand the entire TUSD Whistleblower analysis.

TUSD Whistleblowers on the 2018 Board Election
77th Open Letter to the Community: The Very Dysfunctional Correlation Between an Inefficient Administration, a Very Bad Board, and the 2018 Board Election

77th Open Letter to the Community: The Very Dysfunctional Correlation Between an Inefficient Administration, a Very Bad Board, and the 2018 Board Election

From: TUSD Whistleblowers– Comprised of a Large Group of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers, Former Students/Class of 2018, Retired Administrators, Parents, & Grandparents

Note: A few of us attended the TUSD Board Candidate Forum at Mansfeld Middle School on October 18th.  We are adding a few comments to our letter based on some of what we heard and observed pertaining to candidates Robson, Ragan, and Counts.

The Current State of the District During a School Board Election for 2 Board Members & Gabriel Trujillo- A Mostly Ineffective Administrator- A Big Disappointment

Before we write about our disappointment in Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo, whom we supported during the superintendent selection process, we feel obligated to explain that we know that he took over a school district that had been poorly and corruptly run for the four years prior to his appointment by none other than HT Sanchez. John Pedicone was not as obvious in his corruption but his good old boy/girl network colluded on a lot of self-serving deals.

He also contributed very little while he was Superintendent for three years and he managed to leave one of the biggest wrongs on TUSD due to the way that he mismanaged the Mexican American Studies issue. Whether it was Stegeman who directed the MAS murder or Pedicone who convinced Stegeman, Hicks, and Cuevas to kill MAS- in the end, they were all responsible.

A total of SEVEN years was lost by Sanchez’ and Pedicone’ s ineptness.  Most of the blame over HT Sanchez and his many corrupt actions were attributable to his puppet Board: Kristel Foster, Cam Juarez, and Adelita Grijalva. On most issues, Pedicone received his direction from Mark Stegeman who, in turn, directed Mike Hicks. Miguel Cuevas conceded to Stegeman’s pressure. So, yes, we know that Trujillo walked into a district that had been damaged, mismanaged, and headed in many different wrong directions.

We also know that the current Board is the most dysfunctional Board there has ever been according to those in our group who have worked under or witnessed decades of Boards.  It is a Board torn from two extreme ends: Stegeman and Grijalva. Their hatred towards one another has infected the entire Board and many of their individual supporters. It has caused great antagonism in the process of making many decisions that impact students every day.

The Board has taken on a bipolar personality (off medication) and it is incapable of making decisions that are in the best interest of students. The Board’s emotional highs and lows play out as a constant dueling of words on the Board. The sarcasm and nasty comments drip off the microphones as each Board member speaks during meetings.

Foster is the nastiest of all on the Board and it seems that her “support base” is perfectly fine with her misconduct. Grijalva and Foster have been notorious for making mean-girl in their whispers, which, of course, can be heard. These whispers are even worse than the “public comments.” It is disgusting. Unfortunately, Trujillo has gotten pulled and pushed within this highly dysfunctional environment.

As unfortunate, due to Trujillo’s poor skills in dealing with the dysfunction, early on Trujillo hedged his bets mostly in the direction of the Stegeman mood-swing which has angered and alienated the Grijalva temperament. Trujillo’s weaknesses were best revealed during the University High School fiasco which Mark Stegeman orchestrated.  Trujillo jumped to every command made by Stegeman and he looked like a mindless rag doll.

Foster has stupidly made countless attempts to mediate the anger/alienation between Grijalva and Trujillo with her repeated expressed support for Trujillo to Grijalva. Grijalva won’t have it. She has experienced a real snub from Trujillo. Her fall from the queendom she enjoyed for four years as Board President vanished when Rachael Sedgewick was elected instead of Cam Juarez.

Rachael’s biggest mistake has been her glued alignment with Stegeman. She could have contributed much more if she had asserted herself independently, as she had promised during her campaign. Instead, she has identified so much with Stegeman in his maneuvers that she is seen as his pawn. He sees himself as a great innovator and is egotistical enough to think that all of his re-writing of policies is great for TUSD. Most of what he has done has given students, teachers, and administrators LESS rights.

He fought so hard to get an independent auditor; got one; and then drove him away by stripping administration contracts to a meaningless piece of paper. The independent auditor left based on the Stegeman’s hand on contracts. His actions have always been “take-aways” except when it comes to University High. But the only way to give to UHS is to TAKE AWAY from other schools and resources that the District cannot afford.

Because of the dysfunction, Grijalva and Stegman each decided to go all in on the Board election and “get” their own “third vote. Stegeman wants two pawns on his side and Grijalva’s goal is the same. Grijalva and Stegeman each decided that they cannot count on Mike Hicks to be their constant third vote.

If for no other reason, maybe Mike Hicks should be re-elected simply to maintain some sense of balance to this very sick unbalanced Board. As we have said before, when Hicks does his homework he usually ends up making good decisions. It is when he has failed to read his material; failed to talk to those affected by a pending decision; given into either Stegeman or Grijalva pressure, or has been taken over by anger that he makes a lousy decision. When he has acted as a dignified maverick, it has been good for students.  Given either side of the extremes, their third-vote flunkies will end up totally destroying TUSD.

Stegeman’s candidate is Doug Robson (his campaign slogan- “Reboot TUSD” is identical to the slogan on the anti-Grijalva signs which have sprung up like poison weeds all over Tucson (the Reboot TUSD/No 5th term signs). The signs and the message are excessive and reveal the underhanded style that has been embraced by Stegeman, Pilar Ruiz (Stegeman’s former campaign manager, Richard Hernandez, a want-to-be political operative, and other hacks). One of our members actually saw and took pictures of Jimmy Lovelace putting up the No 5th term signs very-very late at night (he obviously did NOT want to be seen and he is obviously one of the operatives).  Many individuals know about the Stegeman-Lovelace connection but now we have validation of his political connection to Stegeman and the efforts being made against Grijalva.  This is really too bad because it taints everything that Lovelace does on the Audit Committee.

The No 5th term campaign weakens Adelita but no one knows to what extent. It also lessens the credibility of all of those involved in such low-blow tactics. Last week Stegeman emailed a strong endorsement for Robson, to his constituents leaving out the fact that Robson’s daughters graduated from UHS. The coordinated efforts between Stegeman, the No 5th term campaign (with Stegeman’s former campaign manager, Pilar Ruiz, as its co-chair), along with Stegeman’s strong endorsement of Robson peel away any doubt that there is a connection.

Stegeman hand-picked Robson so that he can have another go at giving UHS their own campus and he sees Robson as the perfect putz. If Robson is elected he will become part of their expanded march to reconfigure TUSD as they wish. Robson will become another Rachael; doing as Stegeman dictates. Robson cares so much about getting elected to the Board that he has spent the majority of the TUSD Board time out of the country in a prolonged vacation in Europe. He is leaving it all up to Mark Stegeman and his crew (those mentioned above).

All of this is dangerous beyond anyone’s imagination. Stegeman has a severe lack of empathy and when we say he does not care about who he hurts we mean it very literally. Hey, we are all in favor of improving TUSD to its optimum state but Stegeman’s idea of improvement has more to do with destruction. His approach has been to do away with anything and everything that HE believes does not work and yet, even after all of the years that he has spent on the Board, he knows little about what happens in TUSD classrooms every day.

One of our members who is a principal reminded us about a time that Stegeman went to his school and interrogated him for almost two hours, without any regard for what he was pulling him away from doing concerning students. The principal was barraged with one leading question after another. It was obvious that Stegeman was fishing for specific answers. Stegeman has a massive misgiving about what his role as a Board member is. His approach has been to assume the role of a high-level administrator when he speaks to principals. Even though these type of interrogations have decreased from two years ago because there were so many complaints about it, Stegeman continues to micromanage. (Too bad the same level of complaints about Gloria Copeland’s unwelcomed and harassing visits to schools have not managed to decrease her obnoxious behavior as in the case of Stegeman.)

Stegeman makes every effort to micro-manage and since he has never managed anything in his life (except his classes at the university level), his efforts at micro-managing are performed very awkwardly and poorly.  On the seldom occasion that he really sits down to talk with teachers, he is condescending. He is not a K-12 educator and as a pretty new father with a child too young for the public schools, he has NO experience as a parent in dealing with a school district. If Robson is elected, University High will get its own site and it will become a private prep school paid for by TUSD taxpayers. If Robson is elected to the Board, it is the beginning of the real end for TUSD.

Note about what we learned about Robson from the TUSD Candidate’s forum on 10/18/18: He could not answer several critical questions which anyone who has been around TUSD for even a few months would have known how to answer. Our takeaway from the forum is that he knows NOTHING. He attempted several times to turn the questioning around so that he was doing the questioning. This is even more convincing to us that he is going to be a token third empty head vote for Stegeman if he gets elected. He was clueless! Robson seemed confused over the use of the term “senior” as a student answered Robson’s repeated question about the term, while he side-stepped answering his question. The worst attempted response from Robson had to do with cultural responsiveness. Robson is absent any knowledge about cultural differences. This should disqualify him from even thinking of running for the Board. Hey Stegeman, if you happen to read this: You BOMBED on your selection for your third vote. He will do nothing but embarrass himself. You should rescind your endorsement of Robson.

Adelita has attached herself to Adam Ragan because for months Ragan has attached himself to Jason Freed, TEA President. TEA endorsed Ragan and Grijalva before it held its candidates’ forum. 

Adelita needs TEA more than ever since she is being attacked by Stegeman’s group (No 5th Term) and Ragan needed an “in” to west and southwest precincts. What a cozy connection. Ragan is a first-year teacher (like 3 months) at Sunnyside and he has the audacity to make being a teacher the central part of his campaign. His campaign literature states that TUSD needs a teacher… implying that he is THE teacher that TUSD needs.

How egotistical of him! What a joke:  A teacher of three months who is NOT a parent and who has become involved in TUSD matters only on a political level is not qualified to serve on the Board. He was VERY active in Kristel Foster’s last campaign and he has been part of a very nasty smear campaign against Rachael Sedgewick. Because of this, we have been able to see his willingness to sling mud in a very aggressive way.  His qualifications: No parental experience; three months of teaching experience; a nasty aggressive streak; and a shared Foster-perspective!  Adding him to the Board will fuel the already existing hatred on the Board.

Ragan is a fraud and also very dangerous for TUSD. If TEA obtains three Board votes in their pocket while the current TEA leadership is in place, it will help sink TUSD financially by negotiating terms with TEA that TUSD cannot afford. And, if Foster and Grijalva get a third vote once again we will see the District slipping just as it did when they were in control the last time. We are thrilled that Ragan is the first openly gay man to run for the TUSD Board and we acknowledge much of the work he has done in the LGBTTIQQ2S/Rainbow Tucson Community. This fact alone does not qualify him for the Board.  Ragan, who goes by “Adam” but whose name is Timothy Adam became certified to teach in April, 2018.

According to the State Department of Education he still must complete the following: “Professional Knowledge Secondary Exam requirement must be satisfied” and he is certified as: Subject Matter Expert Matter Expert Standard Teaching, 6-12 in English. He did not go through an educational program to become a teacher in college. He became an “instant” teacher only after he had decided to run for the Board. If Arizona did not have a teacher shortage, he would not be a certified teacher.  The type of certificate he holds was created due to the teacher shortage. He has an outrageous amount of nerve to sell himself as a teacher.

Prior to his three-month stint as a teacher, he was Associate Director at SAAF for LGBTQ Initiatives. Note about what we learned about Ragan from the Candidate’s forum: Several times he described his self-characterized skills as distinguishing himself from all others running for the Board. This repeatedly implied his superiority. It came off arrogant, and, of course, wrong! He did an over-kill on being a teacher. Remember, he has been a teacher for three months. One of the stupidest things he said is that he wants to move the Board meetings to “day hours.” He may get out of work at 3:30 in the afternoon but most working-class people work until 5:00-5:30 and need to go home before any scheduled meetings to go home to prepare dinner for their kids.

We will mention Leila Counts, although right now she does not seem to count. Her alliance is to Kristel Foster. Foster was her entry point to running for the Board. Counts has lied about this alliance but it is one that has been present and one which was exploited when Foster convinced her to run. She has been pictured campaigning with Foster and has tried hard to align herself with Grijalva since before she announced her candidacy. Grijalva has half-heartedly endorsed her, just in case, Ragan does not get in. Count will vote “in block” with Grijalva and Foster, which is very dangerous. She will literally bring the Count to three. Bad!

Counts set in motion her campaign robocalls during the week of October 15th. She sounds monotone; almost the voice of a zombie. Her voice had no enthusiasm and her message was dry. Many of us were left to believe that she really does not want the job. It was a self-sabotaging strategy. Note about what we learned about Counts from the Candidate’s forum:  Counts also sells herself as a teacher and again it was an over-kill, although Ragan out-did her. She and Ragan should state what they have to offer besides a title used to impress during a school board campaign.  One of us started to count (sorry) the number of “uhs” and “ums” that she uttered which was out of bounds. For a teacher, this does not seem to be appropriate modeling for articulating thoughts clearly. We expected better.

We have a lousy slate of candidates from which to choose. Our membership is hearing that most people plan to vote for Grijalva and Hicks.

The Whistleblowers will announce their endorsements after our group meets later this month. For now, as you can tell, the dominos, as they stand, do not look good for TUSD if Robson, Ragan, or Counts are elected. We already have experience with Grijalva and Hicks. Grijalva went over her 1-minute time to respond many times. Hicks was awkward in some of his responses. The rock and the hard place.

TUSD is a District in massive CHAOS and CRISIS

Dr. Gabriel Trujillo took more than a year from the time he was appointed as Superintendent to take his regional re-organizational plan to the Board. More than a year! He is very fidgety about making decisions without input from every corner of TUSD, beginning with the Board.  In a recent interview he bragged about taking a full year to “listen” to everyone in the District.  https://www.azpm.org/s/60763-declining-enrollment-capital-funding-ongoing-challenges-for-tusd/

The problem with this type of long-drawn-out listening process is that the District has been and continues to be falling apart while Trujillo has taken more than a year to get input to make critical decisions.  The process of listening and making decisions has moved at a pace that could only be afforded by the best-run school district in the county and, of course, the best run school district in the country would be much more efficient in obtaining and processing input within a much shorter period of time. Obtaining input is good when there is time and need for it but TUSD is a District in massive CHAOS and CRISIS, which Trujillo seems not to consider as he drags his feet in making one decision after another.  Even after the input is provided, he acts slowly in framing decisions. As a so-called leader, his slowness in reorganizing TUSD, hiring, and managing problems at a crisis level is causing more problems than solving them. This is the opposite of what a true leader does during a time of chaos and crisis.

It took Trujillo several months to fill the positions for six assistant superintendents outlined in his reorganizational structure, which, by the way, is still not posted on the internet. The following message is posted on the TUSD website: “Organizational Charts will be available soon! In order to serve you better, we’re implementing regions and other changes to our district organization. Please check back soon for the updated organizational charts!”  We are now in mid-October and the first quarter of the school year is behind us and this important organizational information is still not available. It is a sign of just how UN-organized the RE-organization has been.

Trujillo’s justification for the reorganization was to provide an administrative layer just below him with ample power and authority to provide improved support and immediate response from central administration to every school. It has been ridiculous so far because no one really understands the pecking order. For example: NO ONE could find the Assistant Superintendent who oversees Sahuaro High School when a brawl broke out at the school during the first week in October. Yet, this is exactly the type of situation for which an assistant superintendent was put in place, at least based on what has been conveyed by Trujillo. Exactly why wasn’t Assistant Superintendent Holley Leman Hammel at the school dealing with the situation on an immediate basis?  One student was witnessed on the ground while several students kicked him and hit him. The police were not called. As far as it is known, parents and students were NOT informed that they had the option of calling the police to press charges of assault. https://www.bing.com/news/search?q=Fight+At+Sahuaro+High+School&qpvt=fight+at+Sahuaro+high+school&FORM=EWRE

We are sending this to several Sahuaro parents and hope that they will share it with the school’s most active parents.

Trujillo had to leave whatever he was doing at central administration to go to Sahuaro High School to intervene. On camera, (Trujillo’s most favorite and rehearsed part of the job), he explained the brawl as typical high school student behavior (playing down the brawl) and due to the lack of funding for monitors.  Both are lies. If monitors were cut or at such a low level of safety concern, why wasn’t this surfaced to the Board by Trujillo?  Since the Board states that student safety is its top priority, if more monitors were needed, why didn’t the Board fund more monitors? Additionally, we were told that Sahuaro monitors were not cut from last year. When Trujillo spoke with the media and with Sahuaro parents, he failed to mention that he had dispatched Sahuaro staff for several weeks to Booth-Fickett to deal with that crisis. Mike Hicks should be upset about the omission of information since he was also in attendance. Trujillo’s temporary reassignment of staff from Sahuaro to Booth-Fickett resulted in having people that should have been at Sahuaro actually be at Booth-Fickett. These are people that could have helped prevent the Sahuaro brawl or at least supported increased intervention. Even if it was one or two people it makes a big difference when there is a fight. These types of decisions result in in-effective solutions and create problems elsewhere. What is worse is that Trujillo is obviously not being honest with those in the public who pay his salary.

As an important aside, Trujillo reassigned about 20 employees to Booth-Fickett to deal with their discipline problems. The assignment was for several weeks. How exactly does he plan to rectify his “reassignment” in the budget? Will he charge Booth-Fickett for the cost of each reassigned person for the weeks that they reported to Booth-Fickett? This was a ridiculous decision.

The Reorganization Has  A Lot of Wrinkles in it!

We understand that there are many wrinkles that need to be ironed out at the start of any reorganization but so far, we see more wrinkles being folded into the fabric of the reorganization than ironed out! Charlotte Patterson is one of the most blatant examples of promoting a “know-and-do nothing” to a significant position in TUSD and this should be seen as a major wrinkle. Trujillo promoted her to Assistant Superintendent overseeing the area of CURRICULUM, which is supposed to be the heart of TUSD. This is what we educators deliver to our students. Patterson was promoted from her position as School Community Services Director, however, she remains in her position as School Community Services Director and with her attention split two ways she is not focusing on either as a “leader.”   http://tusd1.org/Departments/School-Community-Services/School-Community-Services-Staff

Patterson’s presentations before the Board have shown her to be poorly prepared and not capable of thinking fast on her feet or perhaps simply empty of the information needed to respond. Trujillo has rescued her, as he does many of his weak administrators when they present before the Board. He often jumps in if he detects that an administrator in incapable of responding to questions posed by Board Members. (More on this later.) He is enabling incompetency by doing this. We see Patterson as being in way over her head and not having a good understanding of curriculum. We lacked confidence in her abilities as School Community Services Director. She actually was very poor at working with principals and the Magnet Schools Director in supporting integration at the magnet schools but this does not seem to have been factored in by Trujillo while considering whether to promote her or not. She couldn’t do her Director job well and now she is expected to do both jobs. This is what is driving the District into cumulative disasters! Trujillo has told people that since curriculum is his area of expertise, he is mentoring Patterson, which, in turn takes him away from focusing on his job. Why would he promote someone who he knows he has to train?

Another important fact that bothers us a lot about Patterson is her very close relationship with Gloria Copeland. Patterson accepts Gloria’s incessant telephone calls and sees her whenever she happens to drop in, as if Patterson has nothing else to do. After all, Patterson is only an Assistant Superintendent getting mentored, while she learns on-the-job and remains the Director of School Community Services. With such a light load, she has plenty of time to devote to Gloria’s demands. (Under her breath, Patterson complains about Gloria’s ongoing interruptions and annoyance but she does nothing about it for fear that Gloria will bring harm to her career.) One of Trujillo’s major weaknesses is that he does not see or understand the devious connections that have taken hold over time; such as the Patterson/Gloria link. He seems to be totally ignorant of these types of sick linkages and when it comes to checking out connections, he asks for no input, which is ironic since he seems to have input-fatigue on a lot of other issues. It seems that Gloria has convinced Patterson that she is responsible for her promotion. We wonder if Gloria was involved in the interview process for the position and if she was; why?

Gloria knows nothing about curriculum. Gloria has a high school diploma, although she has continued to lie about having earned a college degree.  The October 29, 1998 Tucson Weekly publication entitled, “It’s Time for Voters to Say Good-bye to a Lousy TUSD Board Incumbent” said. “… there’s the issue of Gloria Mae Charles Copeland’s background. During her four campaigns for office, Copeland has claimed a varying academic background. This includes claims to The Arizona Daily Star in 1990, 1992, 1994, that she earned degrees from the University of North Dakota, or Draughon’s College in her native Texas, or Midwestern University in Texas. Draughon’s is closed. The other schools have made it clear they have no record of Gloria Charles Copeland graduating. There is no requirement for TUSD Board members to have any college education. Indeed, that made the populist Copeland all the more appealing eight, six or even four years ago. That’s not the issue. The issue is her coming clean and telling the truth. But rather than do that, Copeland attacks anyone who inquires. It’s a legitimate question. And one that has an easy answer. If you’ve got the degree or degrees, serve up the proof.”  deceit.http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue2/1998/10/08/87251-college-denies-giving-tusd-s-copeland-a-degree/

Gloria never provided proof because she had none. She has been found to be a liar over and over again, yet, she continues to tell her bold lies while one administrator after another administrator swallows her ongoing lies and intimidation.

The biggest travesty involving Patterson is that Trujillo is using her as his “deputy” and has very obviously communicated to the other assistant superintendents that Patterson is in charge in his absence. Is she, in fact, getting paid more than the other assistant superintendents? Is her double duty being used as a pretext to accomplish this?  Did Trujillo scam the system? We have learned that Board members are as surprised over assigning Patterson as Trujillo’s Deputy as we were when we learned about her misgiven status. This exposes Trujillo’s lack of knowledge about Patterson’s short-comings and insults those at the assistant superintendent level who have more credibility, experience, and expertise than Patterson. Many principals find the “deputy” assignment of Patterson just one more “show” that Trujillo’s judgment is tremendously shallow and harmful.

After months and months of Sedgewick asking for a presentation on Exceptional Education, Trujillo was forced to concede. But he knew that he could not have his current Exceptional Ed. Director, Maura Clarke-Ingle present the information to the Board. He simply did not have any confidence that she could deliver. Instead, he pulled a small group together to put all the information he needed together so that he could do the presentation himself. Trujillo’s behavior defines micromanagement! He told the Exceptional Ed. Director that he was doing this to protect her from Board members that would be rude and intimidating to her if she did the presentation. The truth is, he did not believe she would perform well in front of the Board. Why is Clarke-Ingle a director if she is not expected to perform as other directors?

Another very weak, actually, totally incompetent, Assistant Superintendent is Mark Alvarez who is going on his fourth embarrassing year as an Interim Assistant Superintendent. He has never garnered the confidence from either Sanchez or Trujillo to be appointed as a permanent assistant superintendent. He should not even have the title of interim Asst. Supt. During the time that the Board was appointing several administrators, Trujillo explained that those he was recommending as “interim” administrators did not meet the bar for the permanent status.

Some of the school principals who report to Alvarez like him because, “he does not ask for much and when he visits, we can just B.S. He does not know what to look for when he walks through our school.” We cannot think of anyone who has held the title of interim longer than he has although we recall that John Pedicone’s Interim Deputy, Maria Menconi came close with three years as an “interim.” Alvarez is an H.T. Sanchez appointment (flunky) who was promoted based on his loyalty to Sanchez and NOT based on his skills. We wrote about this when he was promoted from the Director of Language Acquisition Department on the heels of a department audit that exposed several monumental problems. Alvarez had kissed-up to Sanchez and, in return, Sanchez got him out from under the damning audit and promoted him to an interim assistant superintendent. The guy is a do-nothing! Alvarez is also corruptly connected to Gloria Copeland since she has made him believe that she has gone to bat for him and is responsible for him holding onto his interim assistant superintendent interim slot.  Gloria calls him constantly and directs many of his actions. If there is one thing Gloria does well is LIE and she lies her way into intimidating administrators (stupid ones) all of the time. What does this say about the competency of these administrators? If they have to rely on Gloria as a support base, they really are in massive trouble. Auggie Romero was another administrator who Gloria repeatedly lied to about supporting him. Behind the scenes, she has always trashed him but up until the time he was forced out of the District, she had him convinced that she supported him.

Gloria has Patterson and Alvarez fooled into believing that she pulled the strings for them to be in their positions and often suggests that they each owe her. The fact that they have been fooled is revealing about their intelligence and their ethics because each has given into her demands without question because they felt indebted to her. This has caused each of them to go against managerial practices based on policy and/or the facts before them. It is amazing how a person with a high school diploma has been able to intimidate and manipulate highly educated (and highly paid) TUSD administrators. The real tragedy is that Trujillo and the Board allow this by ignoring it.

In the same media interview mentioned above, Trujillo also bragged about his accomplishments in the area of desegregation, which he said had been acknowledged by the District obtaining partial unitary status. Maybe there has been minimized bad-mouthing of the plaintiffs and special master since Sanchez was fired but we do not see how this can be considered as any monumental movement in complying with the court order. Magnet schools still are not being supported. Several magnet schools still have too many vacancies filled with substitutes and discipline remains a nightmare in way too many schools. Trujillo and his crew have added steps to the discipline process instead of streamlining the process. If a student brings drugs to school, there are now added steps that need to be taken prior to suspending the student. Communication about the changes made to discipline policy have not been well explained and there is still a strong sense that numbers are being tampered with so that the District can give the Court a pretty picture instead of the REAL picture. A good example is the recent brawl at Sahuaro. People involved were told not to call the police even though there was an obvious assault. It is more than interesting that Gloria showed up at the same time Trujillo did.

Finally, our apologies for any typos and grammatical errors you may come across in our letter. Doing a group letter is more of a task that anyone could have imagined. We do not like it when hyenas laugh at our errors which are, of course, not intentional.

5 comments

  1. From the TUSD Whistleblowers:

    We thank Three Sonorans for publishing our 77th letter. It contains a lot of information and our comments about Mike Hicks may have gotten lost in it. Although we endorse Mike Hicks with some reservation, we do believe that his soul has NOT been sold to others on the Board. Our letter outlines who each current candidate is indebted to on the Board. Mike is not indebted to anyone. We urge you to vote for Michael Hicks as your single-vote for TUSD school board. The following is straight out of our 77th letter:

    “Because of the dysfunction, Grijalva and Stegman each decided to go all in on the Board election and “get” their own “third vote. Stegeman wants two pawns on his side and Grijalva’s goal is the same. Grijalva and Stegeman each decided that they cannot count on Mike Hicks to be their constant third vote. If for no other reason, maybe Mike Hicks should be re-elected simply to maintain some sense of balance to this very sick unbalanced Board. As we have said before, when Hicks does his homework he usually ends up making good decisions. It is when he has failed to read his material; failed to talk to those affected by a pending decision; given into either Stegeman or Grijalva pressure; or has been taken over by anger that he makes lousy decision. When he has acted as a dignified maverick, it has been good for students. Given either side of the extremes their third-vote flunkies will end up totally destroying TUSD. Stegeman’s candidate is Doug Robson (his campaign slogan- “Reboot TUSD” is identical to the slogan on the anti-Grijalva signs which have sprung up like poison weeds all over Tucson (the Reboot TUSD/No 5th term signs).”

    We agree with Lillian Fox but would prefer that voters not wright anyone in on the ballot for the TUSD school board since it will give less weight to vote “single-shot” for Hicks. We disagree with everything stated in Stegeman’s correspondence. He serves himself. No one else. Rachael Sedgewick’s endorsement letter is typical of her. She does not endorse anyone. Instead she is her OCD-self over Ragan and offers no balance. We also question her accuracy. An active parent at one of our schools recently hosted a desegregation learning session that one of us attended. The parent invited Silvia Compoy to speak and when she was asked by another parent about guidance in who to vote for on the ballot for school board, she stated that because of her position as a representative she does not get involved in the school board race. Rachael may have been referring to Lorraine Richardson who is a representative for the African American plaintiffs since she worked on Mike Hick’s campaign by getting signatures for him. Even though we support Hicks, we think it is tacky for desegregation representatives to get involved in the school board race.

    Vote for ONE single candidate for TUSD school board: Michael Hicks

    In general, it is more important than ever to get out and VOTE!

  2. Many of us within TUSD have grown to count on the Whistleblowers to expose many of TUSD’s problems that are ignored or mismanaged. I keep hearing from people that their letters have gotten way too long and I can see where this may be a problem since all of the research shows that attention spans have shortened instead of increased. It is not a problem for me but I thought I should pass this on to them, since I am sure they read TS. I am wondering if TS or the Whistleblowers would be able to answer the following questions:
    1. Why does it take so long between the time that Whistleblowers’ letters are emailed and the time they are posted on TS?
    2. What is the best way to get in touch with the Whistleblowers to report problems to them? Does it work to communicate to the email from which their letters are sent?
    3. How does someone go about asking for a desegregation lesson?

    1. TS is a busy teacher and father and sometimes I get behind on my email. I don’t know any of the Whistleblowers but I do know they read TS so by posting this comment they may respond.

  3. RE: apologies for any typos and grammatical errors

    Ha ha, good one. I always assumed that the errors were intentional; to break up writing style to make it more difficult to identify the writer(s) through forensic text analysis. During the Sanchez years TUSD was a dangerous place and I a saw real need for anonymity. Maybe there is still such a need.

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