9OYS Education Watch
Ethnic Studies group to TUSD board: Defend the program
AG says such an appeal would be futile
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Just days into the new semester, Tucson Unified School District's Mexican-American Studies students will soon find out whether the state is going to try to shut the program down. In the meantime, supporters rally, urging the school board to fight on. But after Tuesday's power shift
, will board members take another stand?
State superintendent John Huppenthal is expected to announce his decision on the fate of the Ethnic Studies program Friday. Thursday, a Tucson group made an announcement of their own. Their message to the board: appeal last week's finding that the program violates state law
in Superior Court.
“I think it's essential that we appeal,” said Raul Aguirre, co-chair of the Mexican-American Studies Community Advisory Board, an organization more than a decade old. “We feel that the whole process and the hearings are unconstitutional. We feel there was very little due process. When the jury and the judge are the same people, it's a travesty of the law.”
The group of Latino and non-Latino community leaders is calling for school board members to continue defending the program. It also calls the state law that could end it unconstitutional and possibly in violation of federal law.
“Is it something you'll take into consideration?” KGUN9 News reporter Kevin Keen asked new school board president
Dr. Mark Stegeman. “The Mexican-American Studies (Community Advisory) Board has been involved with the program for a long time and their opinion is important,” he replied. “They're not an official arm of the district. They are a separate community board, but of course we care about the opinion of all of our stakeholders.”
Stegeman says the board will wait to hear the state superintendent's decision on the program before deciding what to do. He says the group would take a number of variables into consideration, including the impact on students.
“I think it will be considerations of cost,” Stegeman said. “I think it's considerations of how those things will play out. In other words, will litigation actually lead to something different in the end than compliance?”
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says any more litigation would be futile, as there's evidence the program breaks the law.
“I think it's a waste of funds that could be better used in improving students' education,” he told KGUN9. Keen asked: “Do you think that, at this point in time then, they should give up that fight of defending the program?” “Yes,” he replied over the phone. “I think they should give up the fight because it's useless.”
TUSD stands to lose up to $15 million in state funding this year if it's found out of compliance of state law, according to the state Department of Education.