Thursday, June 13, 2013

Federal Judge Adopts TUSD Deseg Budget and Special Master Recommendations

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Apologies to all people who follow everything Tucson Unified School District (or really everything that has to do with the district's ongoing desegregation case). We got sidetracked when the district went into superintendent search mode and announced a finalist on Tuesday evening.

Remember how we were expecting a decision from U.S. Federal Court Judge David Buryon the TUSD deseg budget and objections from special master Willis Hawley and Mexican-American and African-American plaintiffs? Bury made a decision and had some interesting things to say in response to TUSD. Ready? Let's take a Bury ride on the deseg train.

The decision:


In Bury's decision, issued Friday, May 7, he ruled to adopt Hawley's suggestions, as well as the TUSD deseg budget. He also made it clear that the special master and the plaintiffs have a continuing responsibility in this process, which doesn't mean everyone sits back and watches TUSD implement the plan without chiming in:

The Court is aware as noted by the Government, that mere implementation of the USP does not ensure the good faith of the Defendants, and this question can only be answered at the end of the time period proscribed in the USP. In the same way it would make little sense to examine program efficacy without considering budgetary restraints, “it makes little sense to examine and make recommendations regarding provisions of a budget without examining the proposed expenditure and the demonstrated or likely efficacy of the activity or action to be implemented.” (Special Master’s Objection at 3.) The Special Master and the Plaintiffs’ role in this case regarding the desegregation budget is more than “spectators shouting from the sidelines,” they are charged with offering advice regarding program efficacy relative to the USP.

Bury also said that, while the district may feel that the court or special master's intention is to micro-manage the process or wait two years to see how things go, "The Special Master’s recommendations only ask that the District propose to spend desegregation money on programs where there is research based evidence of efficacy. To do otherwise could result in a waste of time and money. The programs called for in the USP were not adopted in a void. TUSD has been operating under a desegregation consent decree for well over 20 years and there are many other school districts with experiences from which the District may draw. The Special Master’s recommendations merely assert that a reasoned proposal should be one which is research based."

Other points worth noting in Bury ruling:

The District, Plaintiffs, and Special Master shall work together to develop, by December 2013, criteria for determining when desegregation dollars may fund all or part of a program so as to facilitate the independent audit and program reviews and assessment required under the USP.

The District shall assess the reading support element of Mexican American tudent Services provision of the USP pursuant to the criteria identified by the Special Master, or some other research or best practices evidence, and based on this assessment develop its MASS reading improvement plan.

The District shall develop research-based criteria and use it to assess student support programs, including the functions of Learning Support Coordinators, evidence for identifying target programs and activities and possible redundancy, the use of student outcome data, and research based criteria/design principles.

The Court shall approve the lump sum budget proposal for the District’s Magnet Plan, contingent on agreed revisions, made during the May 14 meeting with Professor Gary Orfield, the Special Master and the District, which will affect the level3 and purposes of expenditures for individual schools, and contingent on subsequent expedited review by the Plaintiffs with Board approval to follow of individual school level expenditures for the Magnet Plan to be made later this summer.


The District, Plaintiffs, and Special Master shall work together to develop, by December 2013, research based criteria to be used in the assessment of student support programs to be implemented as soon as possible,

The Court shall approve the lump sum budget proposal for the District’s Magnet Plan, contingent on agreed revisions to the Magnet Plan, and subsequently review the level and purposes of expenditures for individual schools and make any necessary revisions to the budget.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties and the Special Master shall meet within 10 days of the filing date of this Order and file with the Court the time frames for resolving each condition, including deadlines for developing criteria, making program assessments pursuant to these criteria, and revising the budget, if necessary, for program implementation as soon as possible.

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