The governing board of Tucson's largest school district was scheduled to vote on an interim superintendent Friday afternoon, but the meeting was canceled after the top candidate withdrew.
This is the second time a vote on an interim superintendent was canceled. The board was scheduled to decide at the March 7 meeting, but the item was taken off the agenda because too many people were suggested for the job, according to Board President Michael Hicks.
A special meeting was scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Duffy Community Center, 5145 E. Fifth St., to confirm Maggie Shafer, a former assistant superintendent in charge of Tucson Unified School District's elementary schools. She resigned from the district in 2013 to take a job with the University of Arizona.
However, the meeting is no longer happening.
“I did not know we didn’t have a meeting today until I heard it on the news today,” said Mary Alice Wallace, director of staff services to the board who is in charge of communicating the updates with the board’s schedule and agenda. She said she did not check her email overnight, when apparently Michael Hicks, the board president, was communicating with district counsel Todd Jaeger about cancelling the meeting.
Wallace confirmed that Shafer, who was offered a prorated salary of $239,200 for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, had withdrawn. Under the proposed contract, she would have also received a $3,750 bonus.
Shafer was not publicly announced as the top candidate for interim superintendent until after Tucson Sentinel reported Thursday morning that she would be named for the job, and Teri Melendez, a former TUSD administrator, would be her interim deputy.
Melendez, if approved, would be paid a prorated salary of $144,040. However, TUSD already has a deputy superintendent, Karen Kopec.
Adelita Grijalva, a TUSD board member and former board president, said she did not know if that meant there would be a reorganization of the administration. "We've never had two deputies."
She said she did not know why Shafer had pulled out but also that she had spoken to her about the superintendency and the challenges of working with a divided board.
"It's really unnerving how unorganized everything is," Grijalva said.
The board was also scheduled to vote on an interim deputy superintendent, despite the fact that the matter had never been discussed publicly by the board.
Stefanie Boe, the district’s spokeswoman, said she wasn’t given any information beyond the fact that the meeting has been canceled. Hicks and Mark Stegeman, the board members who Grijalva said pushed for Shafer's appointment, could not be reached for comment immediately.
H.T. Sanchez, who served as TUSD superintendent since 2013, resigned the post on Feb. 28 after a weekslong effort by some governing board members to remove him.
Sanchez walked away with $200,000 in severance pay. He was paid a base salary of $270,000, according to his most recent contract for the 2016-2017 school year. That figure does not include benefits and bonuses.