Where’s Manuel Now? Huffington Post Found Him!


Manuel IsquierdoIn April of this year my local school district initially offered to hire, and then encouraged the withdrawal of the candidacy of Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo from the Tucson, Arizona school district known as Sunnyside Unified School District, following disclosure of Isquierdo’s financial distress and a pattern of minor legal troubles. 

This week the Huffington Post helpfully updated us on the chaos that continues to surround Manuel Isquierdo and his school district, which had for the past few months been residing in the Where Are They Now File.  I summarize below what I could glean from recent coverage and added a few notes of my own.

Isquierdo’s career back on track

The good news for Isquierdo is that he’s got his job back, and a contract extension.  The five-member Sunnyside school board***  voted in June to renew his contract by two more years, past his previous June 2014 contract expiration.

However, the Sunnyside Board may be the most dysfunctional school board in the entire country

The bad news, however, is that his bosses, the Sunnyside Board, are having a hard time, as described by the Huffington Post and local Arizona journalists.

A Quentin Tarantino-esque standoff between board members

Following the contract renewal for Isquierdo, according to The Arizona Star, the Sunnyside Board has fractured.

In July, a citizens group calling itself Sunnyside Recall 2013 launched a campaign to recall and remove from office two of the five members of the board, apparently for supporting Isquierdo’s contract renewal, targeting Board President Louie Gonzales, and board member Bobby Garcia.

Another board member and Isquierdo critic Buck Crouch[1]  then filed an open meeting violations complaint to the Pima County Attorney’s Office and Arizona Attorney General’s office, claiming he and fellow Isquierdo critic Daniel Hernandez Jr. were excluded by Isquierdo from school administration meetings, because as members of the board they were not ‘the ones that could be trusted.’

This week, a new citizens group launched a separate recall against Isquierdo detractors Crouch and Hernandez Jr.[2] 

Hernandez Jr in particular is featured in  the Huffington Post article, following ham-handed flyers in support of his recall, claiming Hernandez’ LGBT status and lack of support for guns make him unfit to serve as a Sunnyside school board member.

The article points out that board President Gonzales’ campaign manager, Marcos Castro, is running the recall effort against Hernandez, confirming that this is a case of Tarantino-esque schoool board fratricide.


Because of both the LGBT and the recall angle, the dysfunction of the Sunnyside Unified School District rhymes interestingly with San Antonio City Council politics lately.  It’s also a reminder of the kind of drama Isquierdo could have generated as Superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District.

Isquierdo bankruptcy

Because I make a habit of searching public financials records, I thought it worth following up on Isquierdo’s financial journey since April as well.  It should come as a surprise to nobody that he has not comported himself entirely according to the rules.  This is a guy for whom rules do not apply.

Isquierdo declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May 2013, presumably in an attempt to stop his house foreclosure, and under considerable uncertainty about his future employment.

In June, the main mortgage holders on his golf community house filed a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy because of inconsistencies in his financial declaration under oath.  The mortgage holders essentially accused him of perjury.

In July, the US Department of Justice’s representative in bankruptcy cases, known as the US Trustees Office, filed a motion that supported the mortgage holders, declaring a ‘presumption of abuse’ of the bankruptcy system in Isquierdo’s filing.

In August, the mortgage holders asked the court to sanction and hold Isquierdo in contempt for, among other things, stripping the house of $14,000 in cabinets and countertops, a microwave oven worth $580[3], a dishwasher worth $1200, and removing or destroying a built-in Television, built-in wood shelves, and the security system

This week the US Trustee’s office (again, a representative of the US Department of Justice) agreed that Isquierdo’s bankruptcy should be dismissed because among other things:

1. He makes $327,222 per year, approximately $266,299 more than the median household in the area.  You’re supposed to be below the median income to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, except in extraordinary circumstances.

2. He listed $1,000/month for dependent child care, but lists no dependent children.

3. He listed $8,700/month for mortgage expenses, but hasn’t paid his mortgage since before he declared bankruptcy.  Also, he and his wife moved out of the house months ago, so they clearly have no intention of ever paying $8,700/month.

Isquierdo’s bankruptcy will likely be dismissed, which appears from his own filings to be his preference as well.  It would not be surprising, based on the filings I reviewed, if he faced penalties or additional damages from the US Trustee’s Office or the Bankruptcy Trustee handling his case.

Please see earlier post on Manuel Isquierdo, Do You Believe in Coincidences?

Also, here’s an update from the Tucson paper in December 2013, on his ongoing financial trouble, additional tax liens, and re-filing for bankruptcy.
***As noted in the comments section below: only 3 of the 5 board members voted for the extension.  Crouch and Hernandez Jr. voted against the contract extension for Isquierdo.  Hence the recall effort against them.

[1] That’s a great name, by the way.  I would totally douse myself in wolf urine and take up big game hunting if I could go shooting with a guy named Buck Crouch.

[2] Hernandez Jr initially came to public attention when, during his first week as an intern for Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, he jumped to her side and held her hand all the way to the hospital, shortly after she was shot by Jared Lee Loughner.

[3] I feel it necessary to point out that one can get a decent microwave for $25 at Walmart these days, but I digress.

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