Wednesday, March 20, 2013

John Pedicone: 'The Community Needs to Get Behind This District'

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 3:30 PM

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It wasn't suppose to come out today. That was made obvious during this afternoon's press conference at Tucson Unified School District in which Superintendent John Pedicone formally announced his resignation effective June 30th.

This morning, rumors began to creep forward that Pedicone was resigning, with one source close to the Weekly sharing that in part it was out of frustration over the recent decision by the current TUSD governing board to not approve outsourcing certain district operations in an effort to save money.

With Tucson Unified School District governing board president Adelita Grijalva sitting by his side, TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone read out loud the letter of resignation he submitted to the board yesterday. A press conference on the resignation wasn't expected until tomorrow. Grijalva said the board reluctantly accepted his resignation.

TUSD board members Michael Hicks and Cam Juarez were sitting near by, as Grijalva described an administration under Pedicone that saw tremendous gains, despite the challenges of Mexican-American studies, the desegregation unitary status plan process and the struggles of dealing with negative PR that always seem to face the district.

"This was not something we wanted him to do. There was no motivation from any board member asking for his resignation," Grijalva said.

"The plan that was tomorrow we would have a press conference and all the board members planned to attend, but because we wanted to get out in front of any misconceptions of anything that has been written, because it is inaccurate and we wanted to give him the opportunity to tell all his staff rather than hear it through the news. I am here to support the administration."

Grijalva said there would be a national search process that would begin immediately. At the same time district is also undergoing a national search to replace outgoing assistant superintendent Maggie Shaffer, who resigned days earlier. Grijalva said she expects costs for both searches to be close to $25,000, noting that the cost of Pedicone's search was about $10,000. The board also determined Pedicone faces no penalty for leaving before the end of his most recent two-year contract.

During the press conference Pedicone reflected on the past two years and said he was was disappointed by some of the things said by some people in the media "that proposed opinion" on Mexican-American studies. "What concerned me is that it created harm and fear in a part of the community that is so important to us. ... We're all kind of wounded by the last couple of things that have happened. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that."

Pedicone said when he was first hired by the board he always made it clear he wasn't there for the long term. What made resigning now feel right is the new board — the addition of Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez. It's this new board, Pedicone said, that made him realize this was the best time to leave. "I really have a lot of respect for this board and they deserve to have a long-term superintendent that they can begin to work with and cultivate a relationship with."

What will help a new superintendent stay longer than the two to three year stints of previous administrations is if there was a change in the community. "The community needs to get behind this district," rather than was seems fashionable "to watch TUSD have trouble. ... We have an obligation to lift this perception. Stop making it kind of cool to make TUSD fail."

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