School District Endorsement?

Jennifer Petersen

I have yet to see the Jennifer Petersen (Scottsdale City Council candidate) campaign mailer supposedly proclaiming her to be endorsed by the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board, and including the SUSD logo across the bottom.

An inquiring citizen’s main concern:

I don’t want to have the district called into question at the moment as we are trying to get the override through.​

SUSD superintendent Dr. David Peterson (no relation) was quick to respond to citizen inquiries:

As District employees we are not allowed to use our position or district resources to influence the election.
The Governing Board is not an employee, but is still held to the restriction on not using district resources. I can say that the Board has never discussed or took action as a Board to endorse any candidates or initiaves. People can support folks as private citizens, but that is not a whole Board official position…

I sent this to our legal department once I heard about it from your email. The use of the District logo was not authorized and we will be notifying that campaign committee of that.

As with candidate David Smith, I find Ms. Petersen to be pleasant and even likable. However, I do not support her for the same reasons I do not support Smith: I do not think she would accurately represent my interests and the long-term interests of Scottsdale on the city council.

If I had to guess, this gaff with the purported district ‘endorsement’ and the use of the logo was probably not a sinister act on her part, and more likely an overzealous PR flack. But if this is a mailer from Jennifer’s campaign, then it’s ultimately the candidate’s responsibility.

If it’s not from Jennifer’s campaign, then she has a grave responsibility to swiftly and strongly repudiate it…for the respectability of her campaign, AND for the integrity of the SUSD override that’s on the same ballot.

Again, not having seen the mailer I don’t know if it’s from Jennifer’s campaign or one of the dark money groups fronted by Judy Eisenhower. Regardless, I suspect Jennifer and the dark money darlings have both retained Kyle Moyer, who organized the recent ‘Yes to Scottsdale’ rally at McCormick-Stillman park that implied school district support for council candidates Petersen, Linda Milhaven, and Dennis Robbins.

Dr. Peterson was quick to investigate my request for information on that event. Saguaro High School principal Brian Corte (no known relation to city council member Virginia Korte) responded:

This was not a school event, I was not aware, no employee supervised students and no transportation was provided.  Students drove themselves or were transported by parents.  They were not required to attend and participation had no bearing whatsoever on grades or credit.

Students were wearing uniforms, which are loaned by the District to band members.  It is possible a student may have borrowed a District instrument, however most are student-owned.

The Band Director did participate in the two songs performed prior to the event’s start.  He was off duty and acting in his capacity as a private citizen, as is his right.

It is unfortunate that Scottsdale Council candidates staged and promoted this rally in such a way as to imply a more formal level of support from Saguaro. Such dishonest representation colors our political process (both city and district), and unfortunately–I believe–erodes support for the requested SUSD maintenance and operations budget override (tax increase).

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  1. So the band that showed up Walked Like the Saguaro High School Band, Dressed like the Saguaro High School Band, Played like the Saguaro High School Band, and was Conducted by the Saguaro High School Band — BUT — “it was not the Saguaro High School Band” ??????? Seriously. That’s the best story they have?

  2. This is very concerning. Who contacted the band director, the students and arranged this whole event? Why keep the principal in the dark? Did anyone ask the districts permission? It seems like nobody got permission and it was just done. Why? More Dark Money at work, or was it the candidates wanting to create implied support where there was none?

    Now for Petersen, why would someone who served on the school board drag them into this mess? Especially now when the district is trying to get an override passed. Not very supportive is she. She should know the school board is not a ‘person’, so that is NOT an endorsement to use. Also she did NOT get the SUSD approval for using their logo, so why do that? Is she so out of touch with her campaign staff or advertising staff?

    Why does she do these things? She is a nice person, OK, but apparently also a person not in charge of her campaign. How can she mess up so badly with the school district when she uses them as her foundation for experience? This does not reflect well on her experience. Ms. Petersen actions show she is NOT someone to represent me as city council member.

  3. OK, here is probably why this got so far. If you go to her page what is on it? Copy and paste.

    SUSD Governing Board Unanimously Endorsed My Campaign
    26 July on Endorsement

    Oh no! Look at that date, July 26th! It gets better, when you click on the link you get the endorsements of ALL the Board members. In the format like this (just one example)

    – Denny Brown, SUSD Governing Board Vice President

    Now, with the date of the endorsement, and with that tag after the persons name, why hasn’t Dr. Peterson (the superintendent) told Jennifer Petersen to take that down? Why hasn’t Ms. Petersen known better?

    She has just used ALL the board members positions as endorsements. Per the statement from Dr. Peterson, they can endorse Ms. Petersen as citizens, but NOT as board members. Ms. Petersen should have known that.

    This stinks more and more. The district does NOT have clean hands on this matter. Look at the date of the endorsement, how could they NOT know of this? Why did Ms. Petersen jeopardize both the district and herself in such a reckless manner?

  4. The “Yes to Children” campaign has allowed itself to be co-opted by the Milhaven-Robbins-Petersen for Council campaign. I can see why Milhaven, Robbins and Petersen did this, they want to distract attention from their resident-unfriendly policies on city issues. But it will no doubt cost votes for the override. Good for Milhaven, Robbins and Petersen, bad for the override.

  5. Cantor here……not real happy at the moment…….read this and you will understand why you need to support Cindy Hill…..please all the way through.

    In Saturday’s Scottsdale Republic there was a letter to the editor from former CEO of Scottsdale Healthcare, Dr. James Shamadan, a gentleman I became acquainted with over the years due to the 17 times my dad was hospitalized there for rheumatoid arthritis, vascular disease, heart bypasses, and other issues. Dr. Shamadan is a careful critical thinker.

    He echoed what I have been thinking about over the last 10 months……what experience does Ms Petersen have with city issues, city and resident advocacy, attendance at Council or Planning Commission, Transportation Commission, etc., or even the General Plan Update meetings?

    For some months several of us who participated as parent volunteers in the Coronado Complex Schools, have been looking at the many problems and needs in the Coronado Complex and there are some stunners that came to light following the failure of the 2013 override.

    We have tracked back to 2006 when the Scottsdale Coalition worked out a program with ASU, thanks to Dr. Michael Crow and the help of the Dean of the Fulton College of Education, at that time, Dr. Eugene Garcia and Professor Gary Bitter. The Scottsdale Coalition members involved at the time were Sharon Oberritter, Jim Heather, retired ASU faculty member Rita Saunders-Hwranek, the late Frances Young and me, Nancy Cantor. It was our hope to build on the presence of ASU at SkySong providing the STEM program for our students and creating opportunities for our teachers to acquire advancement in their studies through technology programs at SkySong and to participate in long distance education via the technology options at SkySong.

    Sadly, the student programs seem to have migrated to other areas of the district largely because there is little comprehension of the Coronado Complex needs on the part of Governing Board members.

    Ms Petersen was serving on the Governing Board at that time and comments about her time in the Coronado Complex are not pleasant. Seems she did not give the time and advocacy that teachers thought our students in South Scottsdale needed. Nor did she give the time teacher needs.

    Ms Petersen came to the Governing Board from serving on the Scottsdale Parent Council, another district group that since the mid-90’s has not taken the time to try and deal with, or accommodate the issues impacting these working class neighborhoods; or deal with the parents concerns, especially the inability of parents to attend mid-morning Parent Council meetings.

    Ms Petersen did not serve our southern neighborhoods well at all. Because of her lack of leadership and comprehension, many programs that provided basic education and enrichment moved out of the complex to other schools in the district.

    Because of Ms Petersen’s lack of awareness and comprehension to all that plays into to open enrollment loss of those programs to northern schools caused the enrollment to fall in every school in the Coronado Complex.

    I did not bring this up before because I work on the campaign of Cindy Hill and thought it might be construed as sour grapes. Last night at the Tonalea Neighborhood GAIN event, I changed my mind.

    Earlier this year at the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale political forum at the Via Linda Sr. Center, Ms Petersen commented to me how glad she was that I would be working to get the override passed in the Coronado Complex. I replied that “Us old coots have to get out and help cause the southern schools and neighborhoods always seem to be forgotten even at the last minute.” Ms Petersen commented in hearty agreement. The husband of a retired school teacher, himself a retired Marine Corps officer, sitting next to me shook his head that she would agree with me. Heck I shook my head and sat down abruptly.

    In the 27 years that I have been involved with SUSD as a parent and advocate I needed to get a handle on myself.

    Whether SUSD Governing Board or City Council, where ever you choose to serve you need to know your whole community, how it works and be engaged with the whole community (Unless Scottsdale decides to got to council by districts). When you sign the document upon entering office you pledge to “serve the whole community” not just one special group or section.

    Cindy Hill……yep……good for all of Scottsdale.

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