By Corinne Murdock |
The Casa Grande Union High School District (CGUHSD) is facing critical staffing shortages for its Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) curriculum. A total of three JROTC instructors have resigned since the spring semester ended, with the last resignation occurring on Tuesday. Now one instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Jesus Flores, remains.
The last resignation, that of Major Rob Sherwood, was reportedly due to disagreements over new district administration policies. One Casa Grande Union High School JROTC student, commanding officer Blake Snell, explained that Sherwood found the new grading policies, which whistleblower teachers say granted failing students passing grades, to be egregious. Snell said that Sherwood wasn’t the only instructor bothered by the new policies, reporting that over 100 teachers resigned from the district.
“This is essentially rewarding kids for doing absolutely no work,” said Snell.
CGUHSD Superintendent Anna Battle rejected the characterization of the new grading policies.
Several hundred students participate in the district’s JROTC program; CGUHSD has two of the seven high schools with JROTC programs in the state. Concerned community members, which included student cadets and the local VFW 1677 Post, showed up to Tuesday’s governing board meeting for answers.
State Representative Teresa Martinez (R-Oro Valley) and State Senator T.J. Shope (R-Coolidge) also showed up to support the JROTC students’ fight for their program.
Shope asserted that one of the board members — Taylor Kerby, a Democratic candidate for the State Senate — was partly to blame for the program’s jeopardization.
Battle made it clear at the meeting that the district doesn’t plan on ending the JROTC program. The superintendent had nothing but praise for the JROTC program and its students.
“What educator in his or her right mind would not want to support a program that implements and instills the kind of virtues, qualities, and characteristics that we have seen not only in the Casa Grande Union High School District but around the country?” asked Battle.
Battle promised that the district’s search for quality officials to serve the program was ongoing.
Yet, district officials alluded to a disparity between the positive sentiments surrounding the JROTC program and leadership action to sustain the program.
Vista Grande High School Principal Vance Danzy noted during the meeting that the district hasn’t found solutions to maintain the program over the last few months. Danzy shared that district officials’ meetings following the initial two JROTC instructor resignations at the end of June weren’t fruitful.
Danzy explained that several of Battle’s proposed solutions weren’t feasible, such as transporting students between campuses. That would result in students missing classes, argued Danzy.
“We’ve been behind the eight ball, and this is because we were informed about our instructors leaving around June 28,” said Danzy.
Board member Chuck Wright admitted that the district failed to upkeep the JROTC program properly.
“I believe we just dropped the ball, however slightly, and I’d like to apologize,” said Wright.
According to the latest budget reports, JROTC has a $145,000 budget, leaving well over $24,700 after expenditures of $120,000 for employee salaries and benefits.
Watch the full CGUHSD governing board meeting here: