HTSanchez TUSD forum spotlight

Photo: Fernanda Echavarri

H.T. Sanchez, finalist for TUSD superintendent.

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The sole finalist for superintendent of Tucson Unified School District told a public gathering Wednesday the system is "not a troubled district."

About 50 people, mostly teachers, gathered in Catalina Magnet High School’s auditorium to ask the H.T. Sanchez about special education, school safety and the district’s controversial Mexican American studies classes.

“I don’t believe that our job in education is to indoctrinate. I believe that our job in education is to inform,” he said.

Sanchez told the gathering that TUSD should offer Mexican American studies classes again, if Irish American studies, East European studies and African American studies are taught, because “everybody has a story.”

When asked about what he would do first, Sanchez said he plans to focus on hearing from all members of the community.

“The first six months have to be about listening,” Sanchez said. “I truly believe that education is the civil right of the 21st century.”

HTSanchez Tusd forum focus large

Photo: Fernanda Echavarri

H.T. Sanchez.

TUSD remains under a desegregation order that is nearly 40 years old. Sanchez said he has dealt with desegregation orders and said it is important to understand the root of the issue.

“These are remedies, but remedies to what?” Sanchez said. “Do we truly understand the wrongs that have occurred? Do we truly understand whose dignity has been violated?”

Sanchez said he believes public schools can compete with charter schools.

“Whatever charter schools offer, I believe we can offer better.” Sanchez said. “I believe that we do offer a better product in the students that are graduated.”

Sanchez, if given final school board approval, will replace John Pedicone, who announced in March that he would resign at the end of June. Pedicone has been superintendent at TUSD since January 2011.

The search for superintendent began in April using an outside firm. The district said that 67 applications were received and, after an initial screening, the list was narrowed to 21. All were interviewed by the search firm, and 10 were presented to the board for consideration. Four were interviewed on June 8.

Sanchez, 38, has worked in public education for 15 years, first as an English teacher and then as a principal at elementary, middle and high school levels. He served as bilingual and English as a Second Language services director at Tyler, Texas, public schools.

Sanchez's resumé says he earned a bachelor's degree in English at Angelo State University in Texas in 1997, a master's of education and school administration from SUL Ross State University, also in Texas, in 2002, and a doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce in 2006.