Nearly six months after the beleaguered superintendent of Tucson’s largest school district quit, the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board has zeroed in on four possible permanent replacements.
But the board won’t say who those four finalists are, despite an Arizona Supreme Court decision stating all “serious candidates” for a public position must be identified.
The TUSD board majority at their meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 8, decided to narrow their list of candidates to just four finalists, but declined to release the names – identifying them only by code names B, G, P and W.
Instead, the board, in a unanimous vote, opted to invite the finalists to an interview and give them one last chance to back out before announcing their names to the public, which board members said would happen by Thursday morning.
Nicholas Clement, a consultant the district hired to head up the search for a new superintendent said the late announcement is a “professional courtesy to those finalists to give notice and prepare.”
TUSD board member Rachael Sedgwick said she thought the withholding of the names is justified, because the finalists, should they continue with the application process, will be thrust into the spotlight.
“Do you think the public has a right to know before the candidate?” she said.
The board received 17 completed applications, and a board of volunteers winnowed that down to five finalists. The TUSD Governing Board selected four of those candidates for final interviews and scheduled a question-and-answer session with community members on Aug. 14, 15 and 16.
TUSD has been without a permanent leader since former superintendent H.T. Sanchez quit in February while the governing board majority was in the middle of a weeks-long attempt to oust him.
It’s not the first time the board has refused to name finalists for the district’s top job.
In the 2013 search for a superintendent that eventually led to Sanchez’s hire, TUSD withheld the names of then-superintendent finalists. The Arizona Daily Star brought a lawsuit, and a Pima County Superior Court judge ordered the names and résumés released.
Then, as board members attempted to replace Sanchez in March, they originally were set to offer the post of interim superintendent to Maggie Shafer, a former assistant superintendent in the district. But Shafer withdrew her application at the last minute, after being named publicly.
After a month without a superintendent, the board made Gabriel Trujillo, a former assistant superintendent, the district's interim leader.
The new superintendent will be paid a base salary ranging from $180,000 to $230,000 to oversee more than 47,000 students in 89 schools and programs.
Sanchez’s base salary was $270,000, not including performance pay bonuses and the $200,000 he was paid upon his resignation.
The new superintendent will be the seventh permanent or interim superintendent in the past decade.