YouTube video forces TUSD Superintendent to call for delay vote
Reporter: Steve Nuñez
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. John Pedicone tells 9 On Your Side he called on the Board President and Governing Board to "hold off" on taking action on the embattled Ethnic Studies program. The vote was slated to take place Tuesday night.
Pedicone first explained his decision in a press release sent to KGUN9 News.
In part, it reads: "the decision to modify the program should come outside of an increasingly politicized environment that threatens the welfare of the community and our mission as a school district."
Shortly after, 9 On Your Side caught up with Pedicone at district headquarters. Pedicone told us he's especially concerned about student's safety because of a threat made in a video that was posted on YouTube over the weekend.
"It's deplorable," said Pedicone. "I mean those are the kinds of things that take place when extreme views enter the conversation."
In the video, the lyrics, when played with the images, suggests the only way to stop the students from protesting and taking over the meeting as they did last Tuesday, is to "shoot them in the head."
9 On Your Side contacted the video's producer via email Monday night. The person would only identify himself as Kevin. He denies his video is meant to trigger violence.
In an email response, Kevin wrote: "I made the video because it went along with the beat of a song I was listening to… again this video was and is not intended to cause or condone violence against anyone, specially children."
Still, Pedicone said he's not taking any chances.
"The last thing I want to do is see that kind of thing played out in this board meeting," said Pedicone. "And certainly I don't want to be responsible for the community feeling as though we would encourage any of that."
Pedicone claims that's exactly why he changed his mind.
However, that wasn't the case during last Friday's agenda committee meeting. Pedicone sided with Board President Dr. Mark Stegeman. The two voted to put ethnic studies on the agenda as a study/action item leaving it up to the board to make the decision on whether or not to vote on it.
In an about-face, Pedicone now admits he has a different view on how the board should proceed.
"Whether the curriculum needs to be adjusted all of those things need to be discussed but if we can't discuss them all conversation is over with and we get into these kind of impassioned positions," said Pedicone. "And, it's got to stop.'
"Can you guarantee the students that the board will not vote on Dr. Stegeman's resolution," asked 9 On Your Side Reporter Steve Nuñez.
"No, I can't guarantee that at all," answered Pedicone.
Pedicone denies he's bending to political pressure from the student protests.
"Because ultimately civil discourse makes sense," said Pedicone. "Doing what happened last Tuesday does not."
Pedicone is recommending a town hall meeting to allow more input from more people. He said he's working with the University of Arizona to organize the event but a date has not been scheduled.