KCBD Investigates: Questions surrounding Plainview ISD's pick for superintendent

KCBD Investigates: Questions surrounding Plainview ISD's pick for superintendent
Dr. H. T. Sanchez (Source: Courtesy Plainview Herald/Doug McDonough)

PLAINVIEW, TX (KCBD) - Dr. H.T. Sanchez is coming to Plainview ISD following an early departure from the largest school district in Southern Arizona.

In fact, Tucson Unified School District paid Dr. Sanchez $200,000 to leave before his contract expired in June 2018.

Doyle Woodall is the Vice President of the Ector County Independent School District's Board of Trustees.

Woodall said he has nine years of experience as a board member and the few months Dr. Sanchez served as interim superintendent in 2013 were more than enough.

"The teacher morale was through the floor," Woodall said.

Woodall said he and another board member were happy to hear Dr. Sanchez was considering another job opportunity.

"Donna Smith and I pretty much made our feelings known that he needed to take a job in Tucson; that he was not welcome by two of the trustees here, and it was in his best interest to go on down the road," Woodall said.

Dr. Sanchez made headlines when the Odessa American newspaper obtained emails through an open records request and learned he had asked one of his employees at Ector County ISD to review a contract offer he received from Tucson.

Some started questioning if Dr. Sanchez was abusing his power.

More questions came when Dr. Sanchez accepted the Tucson job and reporters discovered one of his references landed a $92,000 consulting contract with his new district.

In October 2016, a school in Dr. Sanchez's district made headlines when a student reported her teacher sexually abused her and school officials waited six days before notifying police.

Four months later, a divided school board accepted Dr. Sanchez's resignation with mixed reviews from the public.

Our sister station in Tucson attended the meeting where someone approached the podium and told the board, "H.T. must go not because I dislike him or like him, because every child who's been hurt, somebody is responsible and at this point it has to be the superintendent."

Another attendee told our sister station, "I think it is unconscionable to put Dr. Sanchez through this stress and turmoil when he's done a great job."

According to the separation agreement, the district made a one-time payment of $200,000 to Dr. Sanchez and board members signed a non-disparagement agreement, which means the details surrounding his resignation may remain a mystery.

We asked the Plainview ISD board members if they had done their due diligence with regard to the questions surrounding Dr. Sanchez's departures from Ector County and Tucson.

The board sent us a statement reading in part, "Trustees are aware that anonymous emails have been circulated that are critical of Dr. Sanchez and vicious in tone. Trustees have gone to great lengths to speak with individuals in both Tucson and Odessa regarding Dr. Sanchez's service in those communities."

Woodall told the KCBD Investigates team no one from Plainview ISD tried to contact him.

While we do not know who the board did speak with, we do know it is standing by its decision, saying, "The information that has been shared with the trustees about Dr. Sanchez is beyond criticism. Instead, it is a personal attack with no attribution."

"I'll be praying for the teachers and students in Plainview. One year from the day they put him in, they will regret what they've done," Woodall said.

After naming Dr. Sanchez the lone finalist, state law requires the district to wait 21 days before offering him a contract.

His first day at the district can be no earlier than May 2.

The next Plainview ISD board meeting is Thursday, April 19th at 6 p.m.

You can read the complete text of statement released by the Plainview ISD Board of Trustees here:

"The Board of Trustees  is pleased with its naming of Dr. H.T. Sanchez as finalist for the position of  Superintendent of Schools for Plainview Independent School District.   Dr. Sanchez is an accomplished educator who has had successful experiences in the Tyler, Waco, and Ector County school districts.  Dr. Sanchez was also Superintendent in the Tucson Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona.

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