Ethnic studies group slams TUSD superintendent
Reporter: Sergio Avila
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Mexican-American Studies Advisory Board along with supporters of the program gathered in front of TUSD headquarters and had strong words for the superintendent. They're angry Dr. John Pedicone placed Assistant Superintendent Lupita Cavasos-Garcia as supervisor of the program.
"He's being insubordinate to the parents. He's been insubordinate to the students who attend Mexican American Studies classes and ultimately he's being insubordinate to all of us here in the Tucson community," Richard Elias, Mexican American studies advisory board member, said.
9OYS went straight to Pedicone to get his reaction to that statement.
"I don't know where the insubordination comes from. I'm following the people that I work for. The five governing board members in this district," Pedicone said.
Garcia is already in charge of the other ethnic studies programs including African-American and Pan-American studies. Pedicone saw it as an obvious move. The advisory board saw it as an attack. They claim Garcia has made disparaging comments about the courses in the past.
"We are certainly very concerned and mortified that someone can be supervising the directives and also the program when their heart is really not in it," Raul Aguirre, an advisory board member, said.
The group also claims that placing Garcia as the supervisor would create a hostile work environment for the teachers of the Mexican-American Studies. 9OYS asked Pedicone why he would take that risk.
"It's only a risk from their perspective. It's not a risk from anything that I know in reality," Pedicone said.
The group wants Pedicone to rescind his decision but he's clear he's not planning on it. Pedicone doesn't think the groups concern are valid.
"They may have concerns that are founded in relational issues which means we have to get together with those people, sit down and take a look at what their concerns are and make sure they feel safe that the program will not lose it's integrity," Pedicone said.
The superintendent tells 9OYS he has defended the Mexican-American studies program and plans to continue to do so. While the advisory board tells KGUN9 News Pedicone should retain his supervisory position over the program since its fate is still in question.
Before leaving office, State Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne found the program in violation of a new law passed that restricts ethnic studies programs in schools. New State Superintendent has given TUSD until April 18th to prove the program is in compliance with the law.