Magnet school parents seek to protect programs - Tucson News Now

Magnet school parents seek to protect programs

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A federal court order aimed to level the playing field in Tucson's largest school district could knock out some successful programs.  And it's in the name of diversity.

The federal court is not demanding change because the schools have problems.  Carrillo Magnet K-5 is an "A" rated school.

But the problem at magnets like Carrillo, as well as Davis Bilingual Elementary and Pueblo High is that they were set up as magnet schools with special programs that were funded by federal desegregation funds more than two decades ago, when the majority of students were white.  Magnets aimed to get more Hispanic enrollment and boost diversity.

Now these schools are mostly Hispanic.  The court considers them racially concentrated.  But their programs in music, art, and technology are considered big successes that are still supported by federal desegregation funds.  And students come from around the district to use them. 

Superintendent HT Sanchez told parents at Carrillo Wednesday night that these communities should have been consulted before.  Now he and the board are gathering their input and trying to make some changes to the plan and see of the court agrees.

Some parents of students who are white and Hispanic say they're willing to change what they checked on their students forms from Hispanic to white to change the numbers at these schools.

"I checked the Hispanic box because I've always heard from my mother who's an educator that it's great for scholarships, it's great for college, it really helps out with this and that. My child's just as white as he is Hispanic and this is a numbers game. It's coming down to where we could lose this great program here because of numbers," said Carrillo parent Kathleen Matthews.

Just changing what parents checked on forms might send up red flags in the future. The district might make the case to the court that some of the students are multi racial in order to show how diverse the schools are.

The board could vote on changes later this month.

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Davis has a similar meeting Thursday at the school at 5:30 p.m.

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