The plaintiffs in TUSD's desegregation case are calling for the Special Master to investigate discipline issues.
Insiders have come forward saying major shifts in the discipline policy over the past two years have led to more aggressive misbehavior -- like assaults. And the problem is escalating -- creating chaos in the classrooms.
Insiders tell us severe violent incidents like assaults and dangerous weapons on campus are downplayed or not reported in the name of incident reduction and documents we obtained back up their claims.
"It stands against everything the desegregation order is about. And somehow the Mendoza and Fischer plaintiffs, along with the Department of Justice, are blamed for what the district is doing to manipulate what now seems to be the discipline numbers." said Silvia Campoy, who represents the Mendoza plaintiffs in the TUSD desegregation case.
"Both teachers and principals have shared with me that communication on discipline is very incoherent and inconsistent. They are pressured time and time again to get the numbers down. And the policies that have been handed down from 1010 (Central Administration) as we're being told are not in writing." she said. For example, she said one school found out a student had a 3 1/2 inch switchblade in his possession. The district told the principal not to suspend the student and instead keep him off the playground for 3 days. So when the teachers were advised that this was the action that 1010 had directed the principal to take, they were very upset. You have weapon-free zones at schools." Campoy said the district is sending a terrible message for students. "Because the teacher lost empowerment in what they thought was appropriate in handling that violation and it depowers the principal."
Superintendent H.T. Sanchez told me that he's following the federal court's directive to reduce suspensions and expulsions, but Campoy has learned some of TUSD's discipline policies are not not aligned with the court-ordered Unitary Status plan. "I think there's a crisis in the management of discipline. I think there are root causes that trail all the way back to the classroom and not having adequate staffing -- not having adequate support."
Board member Michael Hicks told KGUN9 that many students are calling the discipline policy a joke. Campoy said she's hearing the same thing. "They're feeling that there's a lack of follow through on discipline. They feel more fear. That's another thing students are reporting. That there's a sense that kids are getting away with much more than they're used to."
Campoy says the plaintiffs want to see through the Unitary Status Plan systemic changes.
"They can't be instant oatmeal changes. They have to be well thought out There has to be training. There has to be buy in. People have to understand why these changes are being made," she said.
She says she holds the majority Governing Board and the Superintendent accountable and wants an investigation. "If it's validated by any type of formal external investigation, because quite frankly I don't trust any internal investigations, the court will not be pleased. Certainly the plaintiffs are not pleased," said Campoy.
Campoy tells me that communication between the plaintiffs and the district have shut down.
KGUN9 reached out to Special Master Willis Hawley to find out if his team is launching an investigation.
"Discipline fairness and appropriateness are among the major concerns we look into on a continuing basis. We are looking at several issues, some in schools where there "APPEAR" to be problems and some more general issues, such as professional development related to implementation of discipline problems. Obviously, schools need to be safe and characterized by civil environments where students and teachers feel not just physically and psychologically safe, but as members of supportive communities."