TUSD is expected to release an in-house review today of the awarding of a $92,500 contract to a Texas firm with ties to Superintendent H.T. Sanchez.
Sanchez started Tuesday night's meeting reading a prepared statement in which he criticized the Star for its news coverage of the contract awarded to the Center for Reform of School Systems for strategic planning. Sanchez listed the company's CEO, Cathy Mincberg, as a reference on the resume he submitted to TUSD before he was hired.
Sanchez said the Arizona Daily Star’s news reports on the issue are unfounded and that “an actual review of the documents upon which the newspaper bases its claims shows that our policies were followed and no advantage was given to the vendor” who was awarded the contract.
Sanchez said the Star chose to omit key facts from its reporting on the issue.
Among them was that TUSD followed the Arizona Auditor General’s guidelines when increasing the board-approval threshold for contracts from $50,000 to $100,000 last December. The increase was granted about a month before Mincberg's firm was awarded the $92,500 contract.
Sanchez said the majority of Arizona school districts adopted similar changes to “allow business to be done more quickly and efficiently.
He said the Star “ignored the important facts” and he was complying within board policy and state law.
Although he said the handling of the contract has been mischaracterized, he said he will do a better job of avoiding even the appearance of wrong-doing in the future.
“I have to acknowledge as a leader that I can do better and that I’m not perfect,” he said. “This is my first year as superintendent. There will be things that I do that are great. And there will be things that I do that aren’t as great, but I want to learn” from them.
He said TUSD’s mission is too important to be derailed by media sensationalism.
Sanchez said he’s “fully prepared from what may result from the analysis done by the Board’s attorney.”
Board President Adelita Grijalva said she ordered an inquiry and planned to make the findings public.
At least three board members voiced their support for Sanchez.
Cam Juarez said he was “saddened” and “disgusted” that the focus has been on manufactured controversies rather than on “raising the bar” for students.
Grijalva and board member Kristel Ann Foster also expressed confidence in Sanchez and the new purchasing policy.