KOLD EXCLUSIVE: Sanchez issues statement about resignation - Tucson News Now

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KOLD EXCLUSIVE: Sanchez issues statement about resignation

Former Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez (Source: Tucson News Now) Former Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez (Source: Tucson News Now)
Dr. Karen Kopec (Photo courtesy of Tucson Unified School District) Dr. Karen Kopec (Photo courtesy of Tucson Unified School District)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Former Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez issued a statement on Wednesday, March 1, one day after the district's board voted to accept his resignation.

Sanchez, in the statement shared exclusive with Tucson News Now, said he decided to step away for the good of the district.

"Sometimes you have to look past what you want," Sanchez wrote. "Sometimes the big picture is more important, even if you are not in it. No one should ever put him or herself before the organization."

As far as what’s next for Sanchez, he stated he is looking at the “private sector” but did not elaborate. 

Tuesday night, Feb. 28, the TUSD governing board voted 3-2 to accept the Sanchez's resignation, ending weeks of uncertainty and fighting.

Dr. Karen Kopec, TUSD's deputy superintendent, immediately took over on an interim basis.

Rachael Sedgwick, the newest board member and the person who initiated discussions about Sanchez's contract, told Tucson News Now, “I believe we’ve done what’s best for the students and the schools.”

Sanchez, who did not attend the meeting, was hired to lead southern Arizona's largest school district in July 2013. The district serves more than 48,000 students.

Sanchez was set to make $270,000 this year and was the longest-serving TUSD superintendent in the past decade.

Board President Michael Hicks, clerk Mark Stegeman and Sedgwick voted to accept Sanchez's resignation. Adelita S. Grijalva and Kristel Ann Foster voted no.

Tucson News Now was the only television station to obtained the details of the separation agreement between Sanchez and TUSD.

The full agreement can be read HERE, but some of the highlights include:

• Sanchez's resignation is effective immediately

• Sanchez will get a one-time payment $200,000, minus deductions for benefits and taxes

• Sanchez agreed to not sue TUSD.

• Board members will refrain from “making derogatory statements about the other.”

Hicks said this is not a "happy time" but the district is ready to move forward with finding a new superintendent.

Moments before the vote, Grijalva read a portion of a letter from Sanchez.

The full letter is below.

Dear Tucson Unified Friends and Families:

It has been nothing short of an amazing experience serving as the superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District. Our city is blessed with talent, compassion, and kindness.

I leave with great pride in all that we have accomplished for our students, their families, and our city. I have been honored to serve with the most accomplished team of leaders at the central office level and at the campus level.

You set the standard in excellence when it comes to your focus on student learning and success as well as your dedication to our community. Our instructional and support staff are second to none. They are quality personified.

I will miss working with our union leadership. It is evident that you want nothing short of what is best for our district and our students. You have stood with me to better the district and, for this, I am grateful.

I have learned a lot from our community leaders. I have never met a mayor like Mayor Rothschild. He is dynamic, and has helped TUSD transform students from dropouts to high school graduates, and he has established many positive partnerships with the city and TUSD.

To the faith community, your humility in service of our students will never be forgotten. To my friends in South Tucson, you do God’s work, and you are my inspiration. To our elected officials, thank you for standing up for K-12 education. Your voices ring loud and clear and speak power to power.

To our business leaders, thank you for helping make connections between the classroom and the workplace. You have pushed us to be better.

To our parents, the many friendships that developed from our conversations focus on building not just the schools your children attend, but the district, shows the power you have when you come together and take charge of your district.

To our students, I will miss seeing you in classrooms upon my campus visits. You are all beautiful, talented, and gifts from God.

I have spent the last 3 years and 8 months focused on our amazing district. I look forward to spending more time with my beautiful wife and wonderful children. It is their turn to be my focus. They have been so strong in enduring the challenges and critiques of me during my time here. We have prayed, together, for strength, and God has always blessed us. As we return home to family, we feel God’s presence and understand his plan for us.

I wish TUSD nothing but success,

Yours Truly,

Heliodor T. Sanchez, Jr., Ed.D.

Grijalva said she was unhappy with the decision and called it a "witch hunt."

"Dr. Sanchez had cross-community support and I've never seen that before," she said. "This is completely unacceptable."

Jason Freed, President of the Tucson Education Association, said his group is disappointed in the lack of transparency from the board and in the timing of its decision.

"The Tucson Education Association has always been and will continue to advocate in the best interest of the students in TUSD schools and the employees who work to educate them," Freed said in an email. "We are disappointed with the timing of this process, as we should be focusing on the education of our kids.

"Additionally, the lack of transparency on behalf of the school board is concerning. Teachers and support staff will be actively involved in the selection process for our next superintendent and encourage the community to be engaged as well."

Sanchez told Tucson News Now the decision to move on was mutual.

"The board and I separated on respectful, mutual terms," he said. "I love this community. I don't have any more to say than what Adelita read."

Some parents who supported Sanchez said they aren't surprised he wanted to quit, given the climate the majority of the board created.

"I'm very sad and I think he's going to be very difficult to replace," said one parent.

Meanwhile, Sanchez's opponents left happy.

"Thank God," one person said. "It's about time. We have too many victims at TUSD, too many wrongful firings, too many children abused."

Tuesday marked the third straight week Sanchez's contract was the topic of discussion.

In the last two meetings, the board voted to postpone the item, creating tension with audience members who had waited hours to speak.

Critics of Sanchez questioned his leadership and the district's performance. Supporters said those claims were unjustified and things like test scores and teacher retention are a bigger issue and not the fault of one person.

Separation and Release Agreement by Tucson News Now on Scribd

H.T. Sanchez Resume by Tucson News Now on Scribd

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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