9OYS Wants to Know: Ethnic studies in violation, what now?
The State Department of Education has found TUSD's ethnic studies program in violation of state law. What happens now?
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - State Superintendent John Huppenthal announced that TUSD's Mexican-American studies program violates state law ARS 15-112. But auditors hired by the state found that while the curriculum could be improved, no laws were violated. 9 On Your Side wants to know, why the discrepancy?
"ADE (Arizona Department of Education) made clear that they relied on sources of information outside the audit" said TUSD Board President, Dr. Mark Stegeman. He is not surprised by the state's findings.
On top of the audit, the Department of Education did more of their own investigating, saying that they have evidence that shows that class material suggests: Whites are oppressors of Latinos and that the program is designed specifically for Latino students, both violations of state law.
But auditors found no evidence that the program promotes resentment toward a race or class of people, no evidence that it's designed for a specific race of students, no evidence that it advocates ethnic solidarity, which should mean no violations of state law.
Superintendent Huppenthal says that his department based their decision on much more than the audit itself.
"This audit was a limited part of the overall investigation that the department had conducted. I specifically had several concerns with the audit. First, two-thirds of the audit report was beyond the scope of a legal determination that I am making today. Second, the TUSD administration knew which week the on-site interviews would take place. In addition, only 37% of the classrooms were observed and most classes were visited just once and for thirty minutes. Few materials were observed in the class and provided to auditors" said Huppenthal. He also mentioned that the director of the Mexican-American studies program did not cooperate with investigators.
TUSD has sixty days to get in compliance with state law, or they'll lose $15 million in funding. Board members will meet in special session on Friday afternoon and consult with their attorney. Ethnic studies teachers and their attorney will having a press conference on Friday to respond to the state's decision. In a press release distributed on Thursday, they call Superintendent Huppenthal's statements "inaccurate".