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College & Career

Arizona school kept blacklist of former employees

| Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, 2:09 p.m.
This July 20, 2016 photo shows trails leading hikers into the Tucson Mountains and Sonoran Desert at Sanctuary Cove in Marana, Ariz. Sanctuary Cove offers hiking, scenery, a labyrinth and an overnight cottage.
Mark Mittelstadt via AP
This July 20, 2016 photo shows trails leading hikers into the Tucson Mountains and Sonoran Desert at Sanctuary Cove in Marana, Ariz. Sanctuary Cove offers hiking, scenery, a labyrinth and an overnight cottage.

Sometimes rumors have roots in reality.

For years, rumors persisted that the Tucson Unified School District — one of Arizona's largest public schools with an enrollment of 47,600 — kept a blacklist of former employees never to be reconsidered for employment.

But it wasn't until a new superintendent and new school board majority took over and a newspaper reporter sat through a three-hour school board meeting this month that the rumor was confirmed .

In a state that has struggled with a teacher shortage and a district that had long denied keeping such a list, the reality was stunning.

Reporter Hank Stephenson of the Arizona Daily Star , who stayed until the bitter end of the lengthy meeting, was able to confirm the list was part and parcel of the district's human relations office when the topic of “Employee Eligibility for Re-hire” came up. Tucson taxpayers had been subsidizing a practice that was explicitly prohibited under Arizona law.

Stephenson eventually confirmed that about 900 of some 1,400 former employees were who blacklisted over two decades made the “do not hire” roster “because of personality clashes with supervisors, poor evaluation scores and using all of their vacation time — offenses that aren't grounds for firing, let alone blacklisting.”

The practice has been eliminated.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.

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