TUSD board member Cam Juárez says the timing to release a fifth anonymous letter
attacking the board is offensive and confusing. He wonders why waste so much energy was spent badmouthing him, board President Adelita Grijalva, board Clerk Kristel Foster and Superintendent H.T. Sanchez, the exact same week a very alarming budget deal that will cut millions upon millions from the education fund was announced.
"They choose to talk about us as opposed to talking about how horrible this budget situation is," he says.
The letter by the so-called Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers and Parents, focuses on a board meeting from two weeks ago
, where during the call to the audience and legislative update, TUSD board member Michael Hicks was immensely criticized over a request he sent to lawmakers urging them to pass SB 1371, which asks to slash funding for desegregation programs (about $64 million for TUSD) alone).
From the letter:
We see a dangerous and vile pattern at work. Grijalva and Foster (perhaps along with mostly-un-engaged Juarez) conspiring with HTEA to publically attack and attempt to humiliate Hicks and Stegeman at any opportunity; instead of sorting out their differences professionally (or shouting it out away from the public eye and ear)? They did the same thing to Stegeman just a few months ago. We see them appealing to individuals such as Steve Farley, on behalf of public education, to take part in their witch-hunt.
At the meeting, Hicks had a chance to address the comments made in the call to the audience, but he was interrupted by strange noises coming from the speakers and by Grijalva, who said this was a chance for him to touch on what was discussed at the meeting, nothing else.
Juárez says Grijalva was within her right to interrupt him. When Hicks walked into the meeting with a three-page, typed response, it signaled he wasn't focusing on the call to the audience.
It was difficult to hear Hicks, but in his response that evening he said he'd take back his statement on the desegregation defunding bill if the district is willing to hire an independent auditor, which has been a constant demand to the board and Superintendent H.T. Sanchez.
"Of course, we want an internal auditor, but there is no money, how am I going to justify that? When you look at the base pay of this position. You end up somewhere in the $400,000, if we are talking about benefits, an administrative assistant for the auditor..." he says.
Regarding the "un-engaged" comment, Juárez said he didn't say anything because he tries not to engage with people who have "shadow agendas," and who do nothing to further kids' education.
"You want to call me disengaged? When I first came into the board, I told Adelita I am going to try to visit all of the 90 schools we have in the district this first year, and she said, 'remember you have a full-time job and don't be disappointed if you can't do it all the first year.' Well, I am in the second year, going into the third and I have done 70 percent of that. Principles know who I am because I have sat in their office and have listened to their concerns. (Teachers and students) know who I am because I go to the classes. I don't just go and say 'I am a board member,' I explain to them what it is to be a board member, what it is like to be in my position. I am a person of color, a person with a disability and a person who was raised by a single mother, and I was raised to engage with people."
Juárez is up for re-election in 2016.