Sunnyside Board votes to buy out Isquierdo's contract - Tucson News Now

Sunnyside Board votes to buy out Isquierdo's contract

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

After more than six hours behind closed doors Monday night, the Sunnyside Unified School District governing board came shortly before midnight and voted 3-2 in favor of buying out Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo's contract for $499,500.

Board members said that would give him 18 months of compensation.  A full buy out would have cost them more than $530,000.

In an interview with Tucson News Now after the special board meeting, Isquierdo said he  offered to stay on in the district in a different capacity, working on marketing and digital technology, but the board did not agree.

Isquierdo said he is sad to be leaving the district and the students and staff who had rallied behind him, but he is ready to begin a new chapter.  Isquierdo said he has a daughter in high school and he plans to stay in Tucson for at least the next year to work in consulting or marketing.  He also hopes to write a book about the Sunnyside school district.

In a tense board meeting after the executive session, board member Eva Dong said she felt buying out Isquierdo's contract was a waste of taxpayer money.  Board member Daniel Hernandez asked her to wrap up her speech, and walked out of the board meeting. 

Hernandez said he was not happy about giving Isquierdo that much money, but he did not want to keep him in the district, saying he was a "cancer that they needed to get rid of."

About 40 people waited in the board room for more than six hours to find out what happened behind closed doors. Many of them were Sunnyside district staff members. Others were members of the recall committee behind the election that led to board members Louie Gonzales and Bobby Garcia losing their seats.

Gonzales and Garcia were strong supporters of Isquierdo. The newly elected board members Ken GIffin and Beki Quintero ran on a platform of replacing Isquierdo.

As the meeting wrapped up, one community member shouted at Dong and told her that "she was next."  Dong is up for re-election soon.

Some community members started humming the song "Na-na-na-na goodbye" referring to Isquierdo.

Isquierdo told Tucson News Now that Friday would be his last day in the district and he plans to work from home for the month of June.

The Sunnyside school board meets again on Tuesday night.  The newly elected board members will be sworn into office and are expected to appoint an interim superintendent.

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