We put together our issue each week on Tuesday, deliver most copies on Wednesday and put Thursday’s date on the cover, so by the time you read this, H.T. Sanchez will probably be the new superintendent of the Tucson Unifed School District, eight days after the district announced that he was the only person under consideration for the position, selected from four that the governoring board interviewed, who, in turn, came from a list of 60 applicants provided by the firm given the task of managing the search. There could be a surprise up the board’s collective sleeves, but I doubt it. This is clearly the guy three board members want running the show, so they’ll likely get their man with a narrow majority.
In this week’s cover story, Mari Herreras tries to get to know the guy who will be running the city’s largest school district and Southern Arizona’s sixth largest employer and he seems like any generally competent person who might be inclined to apply. He has some experience, is intelligent and generally well-spoken, and seems to already have a sense of the politics surrounding some of the district’s numerous issues. Also, he’s from Texas, another state that seems to have open disdain for public education on a legislative level, so that might help. He might be the best option out there and he could end up being a quality leader. The catch is that both the speed and secrecy of the selection process mean that there will always be some doubt. Eight days for scrutiny (if that) and one hastily-announced public meeting shouldn’t be enough time that anyone feels good about this. There’s always going to be the stink of a shotgun wedding over Sanchez’s selection.
And while on occasion those work out as well, that doesn’t make it good public policy. The Star is in the midst of a lawsuit (one they will almost certainly win) demanding that the names of the other finalists be released, and while that may suck for some assistant superintendent out there who is trying to keep his or her existing job while applying for a new one, the public has a right to have some sense of how this process went. Is someone who has zero non-interim executive experience really the best person for the job? I suppose three members of the TUSD Governing Board believe we should trust their judgment, but based on everything that has happened already, there’s no reason why we should.