TUSD board votes to rescind contract of Pueblo H.S. principal

TUSD board votes to rescind contract of Pueblo H.S. principal
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson Unified School District, southern Arizona's largest district, has voted to remove Pueblo High School's Principal.

Dr. Augustine Romero will not be offered a contract next school year, after all. It comes following the results of a grade-changing investigation made public.

TUSD has not said why the contract offer was rescinded and the public likely will not hear why on Tuesday night.  After the board voted 3-2 to rescind it, board member Michael Hicks refused to explain why he requested the agenda item in the first place.

"I have no comment. Nope," said Hicks. No reasoning given.

This was disheartening enough for the people in attendance, who crowded around a beloved, but embattled principal. Pueblo High students were not satisfied with the answer.

"I mean, you could at least have the courage, have the heart, to say why. But you didn't," Pueblo senior Liam Membrila yelled at Hicks.

"It's been a huge honor being the principal of Pueblo High School," said Romero. "There's not a thing that I did that I wouldn't do again. I might do them differently."

An October 2016 investigation by Tucson law firm DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy showed the principal violated both Arizona state law and district policy when he changed the grades of six students from F's to D's, helping them to graduate. Dr. Romero did not deny the violation, but he did dispute his reasoning for the matter.

The investigation reveals Dr. Romero was not disciplined for the grade-changing incident.

"We can't be teaching our children that it's okay to break the law and be in that position," said one woman during the public comment section.

Others spoke of his reported stellar record of improvement.

"Dr. Romero and the staff there sets the tone for kids to want to come to school, to want to learn, and to want to succeed. I implore you today to not take a man of value out from underneath the kids who so dearly need it," one parent said.

It wasn't enough, and had Romero pointing out other motives - saying he did not get a fair shake.

"Absolutely not. Absolutely not," he said after the meeting. "This is a history of racism. This is a history of racism. That board is racist."

Romero wouldn't clarify why, but he was heavily involved in the controversial Mexican-American Studies program. Several board members did not support that curriculum, including Michael Hicks.

Romero will finish out the school year, and a new principal will take over in the Fall.

The two no votes were board members Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Ann Foster.

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