APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. - Some students, parents and teachers in Apache Junction are furious, after the far East Valley community's school board ousted their superintendent.
"We are in an uproar because of the undue firing of our superintendent," said Sanda Leen, an Orchestra Director with the district.
Heather Wallace, according to an archived version of her biography on the Apache Junction Unified School District's website, began her work as superintendent in July 2021, and worked in the AJUSD for 24 years.
It is unclear why Wallace was ousted. A letter on Wallace's ousting was posted to the district's Facebook page on April 10. The letter reads, in part:
"Ms. Wallace and the Board recently determined that their visions for the District are different. Thus, the parties have worked in a positive and collaborative way to end the existing work relationship while planning for an efficient transition."
"The majority of the board is saying and putting out statements that it was a mutual decision," said board member Bobby Bauders. "It was anything but."
People who are upset by the decision to oust Wallace point to an improvement of test scores during her leadership, in addition to high morale.
"We just started getting to where we were doing well, and then they just pulled out the rug," said parent Mandie Radak.
With Wallace's ousting, the school district is now looking to hire its fourth superintendent in six years. Some say the ousting is already having an impact on them and their families.
"I know for sure it will impact my kids, because we are already seeing some staff step up and leave the district," said Danielle Anforth.
"It’s going to have a rippling effect in our community, not just our kids, but our students, our families in our community, our local economy," said Radak.
"I am so devastated on so many levels. I hate the fact that I’ve been put in a position where I have to consider if I want to stay," said Leen.
The uproar over Wallace's ousting is so high, that dozens met on Apr. 12 to talk about a recall of board members who voted in favor of the ousting.
"Members in the community, across all political ideologies, are fed up," said Bauders. "They want their voices heard, and if we have to have our voices heard through a recall, then that’s what we have to do."
We have, on multiple occasions, reached out to the AJUSD board president and other members who voted against Wallace, but they have yet to respond.
Heather Wallace, former Superintendent of the Apache Junction Unified School District in Apache Junction, Arizona.