Sunnyside leaders decry attack fliers

2013-08-29T00:00:00Z Sunnyside leaders decry attack fliersBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Two Sunnyside Unified School District board members denied any connection to a couple of controversial fliers that circulated throughout the district attacking board member Daniel Hernandez Jr.

One of the fliers attacks Hernandez’s sexual orientation, saying the board needs a “real” man.

The other flier says Hernandez cares only about taking guns away from people.

Board members Bobby Garcia and Louie Gonzales reacted to the fliers Tuesday, denouncing the material while saying these types of attacks hurt everyone involved.

The fliers stem from two opposing recall drives that pit supporters of Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo against his opponents.

Hernandez, along with board member Buck Crouch, are the targets of one recall campaign, with opponents questioning their ethics and lack of unity with the other board members.

Crouch and Hernandez have been outspoken in their criticism of Isquierdo, who has faced a litany of legal and personal issues since he became superintendent.

In July, a citizens group launched a recall effort against Gonzales and Garcia after the two men, along with board member Eva Carrillo Dong, voted to extend Isquierdo’s contract earlier this summer.

The three board members are among Isquierdo’s biggest supporters.

Before Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting, Gonzales, in a meeting with the media, read from a statement saying the board represents and respects the diversity of the community and the district.

“I assure you as board president that no board member had anything to do with the preparation or distribution of this flier,” he said.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Garcia also said he wasn’t involved in creating the fliers.

“This is what it’s become. It’s so petty and so childish that members of the community are acting this way,” he said.

During the board meeting, Isquierdo read from the same statement as Gonzales and offered an apology to Hernandez and the other board members, while describing the material as “mean-spirited.”

Board members and district officials say they do not know who distributed the fliers.

New goals for Isquierdo

The Sunnyside Governing Board approved a new set of goals for Isquierdo on Tuesday.

The goals, which Isquierdo set for himself, include improving the district’s D-rated schools, as well as the achievement of English-language learners.

Isquierdo also will focus on attracting more open-enrollment students to the district and continuing to increase Sunnyside’s graduation rates.

“We have a lot of work cut out for us in our schools,” he said.

Seven of the district’s schools received D’s in the latest edition of the Arizona Department of Education’s letter grades, which were released earlier this month.

Three of those schools received D’s for the third year in a row.

Those schools are Los Ranchitos Elementary School, Apollo Middle School and Sierra Middle School.

In an interview earlier this month, Isquierdo said the schools would undergo a major improvement model and redesign, which will include instructional coaching for teachers, more professional development and other measures.

One of the goals specifically calls for an improvement plan at the district’s D-rated middle schools, while another goal focuses on elementary schools with a D rating.

Last year, Isquierdo’s goals included improving graduation rates, implementing a digital curriculum at middle schools, and designing a high school where students can take online classes.

In June, the board agreed that Isquierdo met 93 percent of his goals, which led to his two-year contract extension.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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