The principal of Catalina Magnet High School will not return to the midtown campus next year after the TUSD Governing Board voted Tuesday not to renew his contract.

Rex Scott was up for non-renewal as a result of his school receiving a grade of D from the Arizona Department of Education two years in a row.

While Governing Board members and Superintendent H.T. Sanchez sung Scott’s praises, calling him a valuable asset to the district, the recommendation for non-renewal was approved 4-1. Board member Kristel Foster was the opposing vote.

Scott will now be eligible to apply for other TUSD openings.

“I like Rex as a person. I think he’s a great guy,” Sanchez said. “My recommendation, however, as I’ve had to review the data and the requirements set forth by the Arizona Department of Education and what we’re needing students to do to perform. ... It’s great if kids feel good about themselves — we want that — but we also need to be sure students are supported so they’re graduating and finding good opportunities.”

Scott has been in charge at Catalina, 3645 E. Pima St., for five years. The school serves nearly 1,000 students and is home to a large number of refugee students, English-language learners and students living in poverty, and has the highest mobility rate — 58.1 percent — in terms of students transferring in and out of any TUSD high school.

“If somebody comes to school and doesn’t speak English, how can they possibly pass the AIMS test if they don’t understand or read? Mr. Scott does the best he can,” said Marianne Ronquillo, who has worked at Catalina and reminded the Governing Board of the student demographics.

Board member Foster also hammered home that point. “I’m concerned about what principal would stand up to work with our most needy students if that means your job, year after year, is on the line,” Foster said.

This isn’t the first time Scott’s job has been on the chopping block. Last year the Governing Board chose not to renew his contract on the same grounds before it decided to give him and two other administrators a second chance. This year, Scott was the only principal recommended for non-renewal due to academic achievement.

Over the last two years, Catalina has been working to achieve academic gains, falling 12 points short of a C grade in 2012 and two points shy last year. Sanchez said all indicators show Catalina will not earn a C this year.

Board member Cam Juarez, who supported the non-renewal, said: “As a person who has been treated in such a way where the bar is lowered because I have a disability and came from a disadvantaged background, I can’t stand for that. I’m not alluding that’s the case, but I think the bar needs to be raised.”

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at

Education writer for #ThisIsTucson. Mom of one.