More controversy sparks at TUSD Board Meeting
Reporter: Ileana Diaz
Web Producer: Ina Ronquillo
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - If you thought the drama over TUSD's ethnic studies program was over, think again. On Tuesday evening, another incident of meeting mayhem.
Minutes before the TUSD Board Meeting began, John White tried to walk into the meeting with a pocket knife on him. One with a six inch blade.
After being forced to leave it in his car, White was let into the meeting.
White wrote down a fake name on his notecard and when he was called to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting, that is when he identified himself by his real name and spoke against Ethnic Studies. He started off his speech by giving the board the finger.
Unimpeded by the board, White continued talking about what he called a Civil War triggered by Chicanos, inspired by the Mexican American Studies program and the ensuing bloodshed.
White then focused his attention and insults on Board Member Adelita Grijalva and her Congressman father. That is something that is not allowed and is clearly marked on the same notecard on which he wrote the fake name. For many in the audience and even on the board, he went too far.
So what does the Board President Mark Stegman have to say even in hindsight?
Ileana Diaz asked Stegman, "at any point did you think maybe I should have him removed?"
Mark Stegman, TUSD Board President told KGUN9, "no, I don't think we want to remove people for that I think if I would have taken a stronger action it would have been just have him sit down."
Instead, Stegeman gave him a warning and let White go on.
It was a far different approach than he took just three months ago, when he called in TPD and asked officers to escort 7 Ethnic Studies supporters out for speaking up.
So why allow this man to keep going when he had the others hauled off?
Stegman says, "one difference is that in those cases we also gave warnings who weren't using offense speech that was not the issue. They just ignored warnings. kept talking through the warning and we couldn't conduct the meeting."
Here, he let the meeting go on when in the past he's limited how many speakers could talk and reminded Ethnic Studies supporters of the good conduct policy.
If good conduct is a priority, why isn't everyone being held to the same standard?
"It's possible that I should be a little tighter on everybody and shut those conversations off sooner," says Stegman.
A vague answer from the Board President, leading to another just as vague answer from the TUSD Superintendent.
Diaz asked Pedicone, "are you satisfied with Dr. Stegeman's decision to continue to let him finish out his 3 minutes?"
Dr. John Pedicone responded by saying, "He's board president."