Did TUSD have to remove books used in MAS classes?
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- Did TUSD really have to remove the books used in the cancelled Mexican American studies classes?
This question came up during a protest at the State Capitol. The Arizona Network of Ethnic Studies, which was formed only three weeks ago, gathered to protest TUSD's decision to remove the books used in the Mexican American Studies curriculum. But we found out -- it may have the wrong target.
Dozens of supporters listened intently as members of the ethnic studies network read from the books that were ordered removed from the cancelled MAS classes. Karen Leong teaches ethnic studies at Arizona State University. "They are singling out these particular books and these particular teachers. This is a question of fair play and and it's about due process. Due process for these books and teachers."
The network claims that TUSD had no choice but to remove the books that were used as supporting materials for curriculum in the Mexican American Studies classes. TUSD spokesperson Cara Rene said, "In a letter received Jan. 30 from Superintendent Huppenthal's office, the ADE required us to have collected all MAS materials." She said today was the deadline to show evidence of the district's prompt collection of curriculum.
However, a spokeman for Superintendent John Huppenthal tells us that the district was not required to remove the books and it was the district's decision to do so to come into compliance.
The AZ Ethnic Studies Network believes TUSD simply followed an order. Leong said, "(Huppenthal) does have a hand in it whether he says he personally doesn't want to step on anyone's toes. His actions as (AZ Superintendent) has put pressure on the district."
While the network of ethnic studies educators works to bring back the Mexican American Studies program in Tucson, TUSD said it's "working with the University of Arizona and the special master assigned to the desegregation efforts to create multicultural classes and professional development for faculty. A timeline outlining the next steps will be completed this week and then submitted to the Arizona Department of Education." The network says it will be keeping a close eye on its development. ASU professor Lee Bebout questions whether it's going to be "a light smattering -- a kind of buffet style -- of ethnic studies. I have a feeling that it will be watered down and that's what worries me. I'm just waiting -- always -- and I'll read the fine print."
The question now remains -- could the books return to TUSD classrooms? The TUSD spokesperson told KGUN9 that since the books were not banned - they can be considered for any future classes.