TUSD board: Sanchez was not forced out - Tucson News Now

TUSD board: Sanchez was not forced out

Dr. H.T. Sanchez (Source: KOLD News 13) Dr. H.T. Sanchez (Source: KOLD News 13)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Elected leaders for southern Arizona's largest school district will have to find an interim, and then a replacement, superintendent but details about the departure of Tucson Unified School District's most recent leader have been minimal.

Three members of the TUSD Governing Board voted Tuesday night, Feb. 28, to accept the resignation of Dr. H.T. Sanchez. As of Wednesday afternoon, board member Dr. Mark Stegeman said there was little he could say about the reason for Sanchez's departure, citing the separation agreement signed by both parties.

The agreement includes $200,000 for Sanchez. Stegeman said the separation payment will be better for the district in the long run.

"It eliminates a very large amount of compensation that we would have otherwise been paying out," he said. "Now I cannot say for sure it will save us money, we'll have to see calculations, but I suspect, in the end, it will save us money."

Several TUSD parents were torn on the issue of Sanchez leaving, but most agreed that they would rather see payments made to Sanchez spent in the classroom. Desiree Molinar, whose child attends a TUSD elementary school, said the money would benefit teachers, their supplies, or even help to repair the relationship between Sanchez and the board. 

"If they're going to spend that much money, then put that money into educating him more so he can ... reach out to resources to ... better the TUSD school board, better the TUSD schools," she said.

Board member Rachael Sedgwick was sworn in at the Jan. 10 meeting. She said Wednesday that she replaced Cam Juarez, whom she said had a close relationship with Sanchez. By replacing him, she said it changed the relationship between Sanchez and the rest of the board.

"That has nothing to do with the actual individuals," she said. "It's not about me. It's much more about somebody else, a previous relationship."

She said the relationship between the superintendent and the board is "the absolute foundation of everything we do."

Sedgwick said if the two groups aren't getting along then it creates "issues that cannot be remedied."

Both Sedgwick and Stegeman said that Sanchez was not forced out as superintendent, that it was a mutual decision that benefits TUSD.

Parents like Molinar still want to know more specific reasons for the split.

"What is the whole reason of having the school board if they can't even tell us what's going on," she asked.

Sanchez said Wednesday that he will consider moving to the private sector. He shared the following statement to Tucson News Now:

“Sometimes you have to look past what you want. 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.”

Stegeman said that the board will discuss an interim superintendent at its next meeting. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Karen Kopec is currently serving as acting superintendent.

The process for replacing Sanchez will be thorough, according to Stegeman. He said turnover of several previous superintendents over the years is because of a poor search process, including the one that led to hiring Sanchez.

"I think we can show that the board, whenever we do the next search, the board will show that TUSD is capable of running a good search process," he said.

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