Ethnic Studies: It's TUSD's move Tuesday night
The district's decision to end Ethnic Studies or continue to fight could decide if the State Superintendent will continue his plan to fine TUSD almost $15 million. Video by kgun9.comvideo
Last Spring protesters took over the TUSD board room, grabbing the media spotlight and preventing a vote on the embattled ethnic studies program
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The battle between part of state government and TUSD could come to a head tomorrow night.
The state education department will fine the district almost 15 million dollars now that the state superintendent has ruled TUSD's Mexican American Studies program violates state law.
The school board's actions at it's meeting Tuesday night could head off the fines---or lock them in.
Ethnic studies supporters were so angry about suggestions to change the program they took over the board room and chained themselves in place.
Friday, State school superintendent John Huppenthal ruled TUSD is breaking a law pushed through by his predecessor. He says part of the violation is courses that teach Hispanics they were, and still are victims of racism.
Huppenthal said, "The thing that I've observed is just defiance. They feel that it is somehow their right to teach in this racially charged context. If we had a similar thing going on with a group of Caucasian kids we would know in a split second that was completely intolerable."
The chair of Pima County's Democratic Party wants the district to fight the fines in court. Jeff Rogers sees the penalties as a political attack. We asked him about the claims the courses amount to reverse racism. He says the they're not, but they are courses that keep kids in school and inspire them to achieve.
Rogers says, "Lets face it this district is now 65 percent Hispanic and if you're gonna tell Hispanic students they can't learn about their own culture, their own history and how they came to America and what America means to them then that's a pretty sad day in America."
Board member Michael Hicks says he'll propose temporarily suspending Mexican American Studies, and developing courses that address the wide variety of ethnic groups in Arizona.
Hicks says, "We're spending a lot of money on this, on lawyers and everything. I don't see us beating this, this determination, through this law. The law is still the law of Arizona; hasn't been found unconstitutional. It hasn't been rejected or anything. We have to comply with the law as it is right now."
Hicks says there's no way the district's budget can take the ten percent penalty the state funding the law sets out. Just ten percent yields that nearly 15 million dollar figure for the year.