TUSD Superintendent Pedicone resigns on his own terms - Tucson News Now

TUSD Superintendent Pedicone resigns on his own terms

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

For the second time in just three years the Tucson Unified School District is in search of a new superintendent.

Dr. John Pedicone announced Wednesday that he will step down this summer from the post he has held since late 2010.

Despite some controversy during his stay, Pedicone said he's leaving on his own terms.

He said it's all about timing.

Pedicone said he wants to leave with plenty of time before the next election in 2014 when the TUSD governing board could change.

At the announcement Wednesday, Board President Adelita Grijalva sat beside Pedicone in an apparent show of unity.

She said the governing board reluctantly accepted his resignation.

In his resignation letter to the governing board and during a news conference, Pedicone spoke with pride of what the district has accomplished and the direction in which it is heading.

He gave credit to faculty and staff and his administrative team for working to improve student achievement and for other accomplishments.

Pedicone said he is not leaving because of the continuing challenges facing the district.

They include having to deal with a $17 million budget shortfall, continuing school closures to save money, and the district's continuing work to come out from under a federal desegregation order that is more than 30 years old.

Grijalva and Pedicone listed the district's achievements, and spoke of how so much more could have been accomplished if the district had not been mired in the situation that led to the dismantling of the Mexican American Studies program.

A state law, aimed directly at the program, made it illegal.

Grijalva said, contrary to rumors circulating around Tucson, the governing board did not force Pedicone out.

His contract expires in June of 2014.

TUSD is a revolving door when it comes to superintendents.

There have been five in 10 years.

Pedicone is the latest superintendent to resign after only two years on the job.

Pedicone did say some things have to change, especially in the community that should embrace its school district.

He said it has become fashionable to want to see TUSD have problems.

"I can't change the person's tendency to want to see the train wreck.There's something alluring to watch when something crumbles and falls apart and everybody goes, 'Oh. Let me stand on the sidelines and watch that.' People should be saying, 'No, that doesn't give us pleasure," said Pedicone.

Pedicone said the district board, the superintendent and the community must work together to celebrate the district's successes and to continue working to expand that success.

"Stop making it that it's really kind of cool to watch TUSD fail. Make it that we have this opportunity and this feeling to watch it succeed. And then, I think, it's a matter of really creating a board/superintendent team, as we've begun to do, to where the board and the superintendent act as one," Pedicone said.

He said it's the responsibility of the board and the superintendent to get positive momentum going in the community.

Grijalva said overall in the district, she wants any new superintendent to continue with the changes and progress that has been made during Pedicone's tenure.

"It's important for people who are interested in possibly applying for a position with this district understand the complexity of it, understand that we are moving forward and we expect another leader coming in--I don't want somebody who's going to come and tear apart everything that we've been working on for the last two-and-a-half years," said Grijalva.

Other governing board members were in the audience when Pedicone announced his resignation at TUSD headquarters.

They said the resignation came as a surprise, and they confirmed the board did not want to see Pedicone resign.

In fact, this is the answer Board Member Michael Hicks gave when I asked what he wants in a new superintendent.

"I want Dr. John Pedicone as our--I want an individual with his tenacity and his perseverance and his dedication to this district and his love for the district and the love of what he was doing."

Board Member Cam Juarez also expressed his support of Pedicone.

"He helped us as we were moving forward with balancing this budget. Not everybody's going to agree that he made popular decisions, but we're dealing with the reality of fiscal responsibility. Nobody wants this district to go into receivership. So the idea then is he was doing a good job as far as I could see. I had no intentions of asking him to leave, and we were quite surprised when he announced it to us," Juarez said.

Grijalva says a national search for a new superintendent will begin immediately.

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