May 17, 2014 1:28 AM by Nathan O'Neal

Sunnyside board meeting turns emotional ahead of recall election

TUCSON - Political turmoil is taking hold of the Sunnyside School District just days ahead of an elections looking to recall two of its board members.

A recall effort seeks to unseat Louie Gonzales and Bobby Garcia.

A special session board meeting was scheduled Friday night to address graduation rates but it turned into an emotional tussle.

Only three of the five board members were present. Critics of those who were present said this emergency meeting was called on short notice so that the two members who often criticize Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo were both out of state.

"This was the straw that broke my back... and I really want you to consider to buy me out. I'm done. I'm tired," said Isquierdo to board members Friday evening in an emotional speech.

What started out as an attempt to clarify graduation rumors for SUSD quickly turned into a high-energy outpour of emotion. It was scheduled while board members Daniel Hernandez and Buck Crouch were both out of state.

"They're upset with me for making comments that were not complimentary," Crouch told News 4 Tucson.

With a recall election on the horizon, Crouch said this special session was just a political orchestration.

"There is no doubt in my mind that this was politically motivated -- last ditch effort by Mr. Gonzales, Dr. Isquierdo, Ms. Dong and Bobby Garcia to maintain their throne of power," Crouch said.

Superintendent Isquierdo's contract was re-newed just a year ago. However, this recall election has him re-considering his future with the district.

"We have to wait for this election and I'll be honest. If my supporters lose, I don't want to be here. I don't want to go back to pencils and paper," Isquierdo said.

Louie Gonzales, who faces a recall, said a seat on the board or not will not keep him away from trying to make a difference in SUSD.

"Whether I'm elected or not elected is irrelevant because if I'm not elected, you must remember that I still live in the district and I'll be here to make sure that kids are treated correctly and this district moves forward," Gonzales said.

Meanwhile Isquierdo said his community has come under fire throughout the entire political ordeal. "If Mr. Polack, Mr. Crouch and Mr. Giffin sit on that board, it does not represent a Latino community and I'm not afraid to say it," Isquierdo said.

Isquierdo said that if his supporters on the board are in fact recalled, he will ask the board to buy him out of his contract, which still has roughly two years on it. That move would cost the district at least $526,000.


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