TUSD board holds off on Mexican-American Studies vote - Tucson News Now

TUSD board holds off on Mexican-American Studies vote

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Bryan Hinostro sat patiently, knowing he had just given an impassioned speech to the Tucson Unified School District Board.

He hoped they heard him and understood the impact.

"It's inspiring," the Cholla High School senior said. "It makes the world completely different. It opens views and closes them and makes sure that everybody has a broad point of view of what can be and what cannot be."

Hinostro was speaking out in favor of a program with which he felt personally connected.

In 2010, the state of Arizona decided that the Mexican-American Studies curriculum should be banned. The law instituted a $15 million fine if the district did not shut it down.

The district did.

But the case, brought by parents and teachers, had been winding its way through the courts for over a year until August, when District Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima ruled the law violated the First and 14th Amendments.

It was a sigh of relief for parents like Betts Putnam-Hidalgo, the mother of a senior at Tucson High.

"We really need programs that work to bring up achievement and we had one," she said.

But Tashima did not rule on an "appropriate remedy" to reinstate the program.

At Tuesday night's TUSD meeting, the board decided to postpone the vote. 

Kristel Ann Foster and Adelita Grijalva were the two board members who pushed to get the item on the agenda, but it was Foster who then made a motion to "hold off the vote until the remedy comes forward."

Even TUSD Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo felt it was too early for action. It's why, when asked why then would the board put the item on the agenda, he said it's a conversation starter.

"I think it never hurts to get the conversation started and start talking about ideas about the different options and different possibilities are," he told Tucson News Now.

After getting a concise history lesson on ARS 15-112, and the next steps, the board voted to table the item for a future meeting.

It left Putnam-Hidalgo, one of many supporters, feeling encouraged.

"Everybody talks about student engagement and how hard it is to sort of capture student engagement and that is clearly what the courses did."

Three things will likely need to happen before the TUSD Board takes a vote. The court will hear oral arguments to decide how to move forward, they'll issue that decision, and then they will wait to see if there's an appeal.

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