Camacho tells all: Politics, retribution, lies, micromanagement from school board to Adelup

Joann G. Camacho, who recently resigned as the deputy superintendent of finance and administration of the Guam Department of Education, wrote a tell-all about her experience with an allegedly politically-charged Guam Education Board that has illegally exerted political pressure on the operations of the autonomous GDOE.

In her four-page letter detailing her claims of micromanagement, falsehoods, and blame games by politicians, she also said she believes Adelup has exerted pressure on GDOE as a form of political retribution against her. Ms. Camacho is the wife of former Governor Felix Camacho, who challenged Lou Leon Guerrero in the last election.

Here is Ms. Camacho’s full letter:


April 22, 2024



Joann G. Camacho

It has been an Honor and privilege to serve the students, parents, and staff of our Guam Department of Education. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to make a positive impact on the education system in Guam and to work alongside dedicated colleagues and the GDOE team. I appreciate the support and guidance of Superintendent Eric Swanson. He has been instrumental in shaping the vision and direction of GDOE, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it. I thank the entire GDOE team for their support and meaningful work we have accomplished together.

I must, however, respond to the comment made by GDOE chair Mary Okada regarding my resignation. My resignation from GDOE, as deputy superintendent of Finance and Administration has nothing to do with errors in the preparation of the GDOE Budget as claimed by the chairwoman. The GDOE 2024/2025 budget was submitted and approved by the GEB and submitted to the Legislature. Dr. Eric Swanson recently received a poor rating by the Board with recommendations for changes that had to be made. My removal as Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Administration was obviously one of them. I felt that it was best not to fight against the political pressure exerted upon the superintendent, to step away and move on.

The superintendent, Dr. Eric Swanson informed me that changes had to be made and that I had to go. I truly believe that the GDOE Board of Education Leadership, and perhaps Adelup, pressured him to do so. It’s political retribution. When I suggested that I be moved to the position I applied for, Deputy Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability, he said that was not an option. The door was shut. I took on the Finance and Administration position to fill an urgent need, a void, a vacancy, as requested by the SUP. My predecessor Frank Cooper-Nurse took on the position of Chief Auditor and moved critical personnel from Finance and Administration with him to the audit division. Transferred body and position despite claiming positions were open and the staff applied for them. Therefore, personnel that were involved with previous budget preparation, and key accounting positions, were no longer available nor were they allowed to assist or advise Budget and Finance. As we began the budget process, we worked with individual schools to determine their needs and addressed all disciplines/58 divisions within DOE as a start. The Working Committee with Board members was very toxic. Instead of guidance and clear direction, the outcomes were always rejection, harsh criticism, and verbal abuse towards management and staff, by board members. Listen to recordings of Board Meetings and decide for yourselves the type of behaviour and unprofessional conduct. I’ve worked with boards and have been ongovernment boards which were always positive, professional and supportive toward the leadership of the department/agency in providing guidance, understanding and policies to which they serve. Micromanagement and interference in the operations, and the administration of GDOE by the Board is ongoing.

In the short 6 months at GDOE, there are a few observations I’d like to share: Our school facilities are in dire need of repairs. Not sure why with board members serving for years have not worked or addressed this concern with leadership. This is major concern as students, teachers and school staff safety is important and at risk.

Discussion on the drop of student enrollment and the staff to student ratio is a concern. Student population has dropped from 33,000+ to 24,000 students and something needs to be done because several schools are now under utilized as fewer students attend such schools, and resources are stretched thin. Yet when management begins the research, study, and conducts community outreach to Right Size the schools, some board members have stated, ”we’re not closing schools” , without even considering the effort to gather the data needed to make a proper decision. NO decision has been made, however if the study and analysis regarding the decommissioning/right sizing of schools, due to the decreased student population, is on-going, how can sound, logical recommendations be presented to the Board if there is already opposition from certain board members. It’s a double-edge sword. GEB tells leadership student enrolment has dropped so it should be reflected in the budget as well. Let’s face the fact that 2024 is a political election year for the Guam Legislature, and village mayors and vice-mayors.

The subject of right sizing/decommissioning of schools in any village is controversial, as students, parents, teachers, administrators, elected official, and concerned citizens will have an opinion. Therefore, entertaining anything (right-sizing of some schools) that will impact the student and community in an election year, will not be tolerated by the Board, nor be acceptable to politically elected officials due to political pressure and the upcoming election.

As it relates to finance and budget, the law and school 14 Points states every classroom must have air conditioners of at least 78 degrees for a good, comfortable student learning/teaching environment. When you add HVAC’s requirement, the utility cost of running the schools increases. Yes, the cost on utilities will increase. Thank God for ARP funding that purchased the A/C’s, now being installed, and will subsidize the power utility bill until the end of 2024 fiscal year.

We all want state of the art learning tools for our students and faculty. Laptops were purchased for students and school use; however, the electrical outlets need upgrading. Because most of our schools are 40-50 years old, the electrical design needs to be upgraded. This is another school operational expense and need. And is not addressed in the School Refurbishment Contract.Certified Teachers in every classroom is part of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

This past year, management has focused on teacher maximization and school aids. Hard work has been done to get this accomplished with teachers and staff. Of course, not everyone will be satisfied because changes and moves had to happen. The real challenge now is recruiting Certified Teachers. Many of our teachers have either retired, left GDOE for better paying jobs at DODEA, switched careers, or left island. There are not enough graduates from UOG or GCC to fill the teacher vacancies.

Regarding the building of Simon Sanchez High School, this is another fiasco. Why can’t the political leaders: Governor, Senators, AG and department board and heads, get this past GO? It’s been 8 years and our SSHS students need a permanent school. It will take Political Will and committed Leadership to make things happen. BTW when and if a CM is hired, financing to build the school still needs to happen. What will the final cost look like with the people of Guam shouldering the expense? The interest rate is much higher now than it was in 2015 or 2021. Oh my, another blame game.

I guess we all need to be more understanding because we all had to deal with Covid-19 and Super Typhoon Mawar. The set-back, destruction and impact needs to be considered. However, this does not discount the fact that they were a blessing in disguise. The amount of Federal Assistance and funding support our Island received was over billions of dollars. The question remains, how were the funds used and how is it being spent to this day. Our schools and hospital facilities remain uncared for.

Another situation where our political leaders need to set aside partisan politics and work for the people of Guam. It’s okay to agree to disagree, however some decision needs to be made and Action taken. Real leaders get results.

One of my most recent projects before leaving the department is getting FEMA to support a Temporary High School for Simon Sanchez. We cannot continue with double session while waiting to build a New Simon Sanchez High School. It impacts 2 high schools. The Superintendent, management and staff met with FEMA and secured a 90/10 funding source for a SSHS Temporary School. Thanks to Adelup for negotiating the shared status with the Federal Government of 90/10 on Typhoon related repairs and projects. Time is of the essence because next month will be 1 year since Typhoon Mawar. We cannot afford to lose the funding. Again, another blessing for our island. In collaboration with DLAN (Homeland Security) we anticipate completing the SOW (Scope of Work), get the AGO (Attorney General) support, and ultimately, the Governor’s approval. One can only hope there is a follow through from start to finish to make this temporary school for SSHS a reality, while the community waits for a permanent SSHS facility.

Lastly, its no secret that there are some issues with GDOE’s financial status. First, the department has never been fully funded. Education, Health and Safety is always a political campaign slogan. After the election, the politicians forget what they campaign on… from Administration, Legislative, and elected GEB. Granted there’s no overnight fix, however understanding and supporting department needs are important. The transition from Third Party (TPFA) was not clearly shared with the Sup and team. The TPFA and GDOE systems were not properly synchronized. Reason for delay on closing our books on Dec. 27, 2023, which impacted orders, vendor payments, grants, etc.

Even our last year and current audit remains a challenge. The office of Public Accountability stated clearly that accounting finance positions should be addressed and filled. We hired a comptroller however he has since decided to leave after 3 months. We tried to fill a key accounting supervisor position; however we are told the position has been frozen by the board and we cannot recruit nor fill that position.

In my tenue as an employee of GDOE, I worked closely with the staff. Creating an environment of taking our challenges as opportunities and staying positive, productive, and respectful. I must say there’s some teamwork amongst divisions that needs to be addressed by our superintendent. The authority remains with Dr. Swanson. Just need GEB to focus on policies and not operations. There are a lot of committed hardworking employees of GDOE. I’m glad to have worked and known them. I thank them for their support and the work they do. I respect each one of them. They’re a blessing.

For disclosure, I’d like to apologize to the GEB members for speaking truth. Please forgive me. The statement is not to all of you. Those who speak rudely with negativity and disrespect only reflect what’s inside their being. I pray for them. Trust you’ll give the Superintendent, deputies, management, and staff the support they need to effectively manage the operation our GDOE to serve our children and community. Thank you !

For the record, there are 4 Divisions within GDOE under the Superintendent. I managed the Finance and Administration of the Organization. Responsible for: Budget, Accounting/Acct. Payable, FSAIS-IT, Payroll, Human Resources, Procurement (inclusive of Inventory and Supply). FEMA, DLAN and ARP Grants for the department.

And to assist the Superintendent, I also oversaw Facilities and Maintenance (F&M), Capital Improvement Project (CIP) and Child Food and Nutrition (CNP). All three under the staffing pattern of the Assessment and Accountability.

In closing, GEB hired Dr. Eric Swanson to lead the Guam Department of Education. His knowledge in running schools, his education, experience, qualification, and passion to serve as Superintendent must be given a chance. Six (6) months or 1 year review is unfair. In years past, Superintendents were given many years to lead GDOE and look at our education facilities, structure, and operation today. He and the team have inherited years of neglect and problems but are committed to make necessary change and improvement. Please support him and let him and the staff run the schools. They’re not the problem. Give them the support to bring forth solutions and results. Thank you!!!

/s/ Joann G. Camacho


  • How could she even say she ran a department while she cant even open her emails; she doesnt know what “accomodations” are for an employee that needs one; she blasted….”Finance…i dont even know what finance means” and shes the deputy of Finance for GDOE; she takes 3 hour lunches with her crew HR Director, comptroller, and others she hired from DFS as they are called the Designing Women of GDOE and she and her two buddies say they did the budget of GDOE while in there she gives herself and deputies a $40k raise for doing nothing; and heres the kicker….during her reign she hasnt even spent the $280+ million dollars from U.S. ED.
    Oh well…..good riddance!

    • MakeGuamGreatAgain

        04/22/2024 at 3:42 PM

      Hi Maria Gutierrez! Nice of you to continue spreading your negativity here in the comments section. #goodvibes

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