TUSD says ruling does not mean return of MAS courses - Tucson News Now

TUSD says ruling does not open door for return of controversial courses

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Tom Horne Tom Horne
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Now that a federal judge has approved a desegregation plan, Tucson Unified School District must create new courses to comply with the judge's order.

The judge ordered TUSD to begin offering culturally relevant courses next school year.

This all stems from a lawsuit more than 30 years ago filed by two families – one Mexican-American and one African-American.

A Federal court found vestiges of segregation in TUSD.

The Unitary Status Plan, or USP, is designed to eliminate those vestiges.

The Federal judge ordered that the district "develop and implement culturally relevant courses of instruction designed to reflect the history, experiences and culture of African-American and Mexican-American communities."

The state, represented by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, had argued that the ruling essentially gives the district permission to bring back a program that TUSD eliminated because it violated a new state law.

That program was "Mexican-American Studies" or MAS, a course of study Horne targeted in the new state law.

Horne argued to the court, "There's a real possibility that the supporters of the illegal, biased, political, and emotionally charged MAS program that promoted social and political activism against ‘white people' and fomented racial resentment, will have used a Federal court-sanctioned avenue to resurrect this illegal course of instruction."

In his ruling, however, the federal judge says MAS courses are not an issue in the desegregation case, that they have been discontinued.

Plus, the judge says, if the state believes any culturally relevant courses that TUSD develops violate state law, the state is free to enforce that law.

TUSD Superintendent Dr. John Pedicone says the judge's ruling does not mean the return of MAS.

We asked Pedicone what he thought of Horne's argument to the court.

Pedicone notes that state law says only the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction can decide if a course violates the law.

"The State Superintendent (of Public Instruction) is the person that makes the decision. So I'm a little disappointed that Mr. Horne would make that statement before we have a chance to do what we believe we should do, and that's do justice to students here in our district and try to do what this community expects us to do," Pedicone says.  

"We'll try to get some direction from them (the Arizona Public Instruction Superintendent) on what it's going to take to be sure that we avoid being in the crosshairs between two governmental entities which I think is very unfortunate for the courts to place and the legislature to place a school district in the middle of. But we're going to do everything we can to avoid that and I hope we can do that," Pedicone says.

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