Friday, January 2, 2015

TUSD Responds to Arizona Education Department Saying District's 'Culturally Relevant' Classes Violate State Law

Posted By on Fri, Jan 2, 2015 at 6:48 PM

As reported earlier, Tucson Unified School District was found in violation of A.R.S. §15-112 - a law that's meant to prevent schools from "promoting resentment towards a particular race among other, overthrowing the United States government, and advocating ethnic solidarity over treatment of people as individuals."

Outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law in 2010.

Two years later, TUSD had to shut down its Mexican American Studies program because it was found in violation of such law. The district's board then issued and approved a new curriculum that included "culturally relevant" classes, such as Mexican American history and culture, for students to take as electives starting this school year - something the state did not oppose.

Last month, TUSD officials said Arizona Department of Education representatives paid a surprise visit to one of these culturally relevant classes and asked the district for several documents. 

TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez issued a statement a few minutes ago responding to the state law violation news.

We are reviewing the information sent by the ADE today. Back in early December, I asked for a meeting from the outgoing Superintendent of Public Instruction regarding his concerns, but so far that has not happened.

The state of Arizona has repeatedly attempted to intervene in the districts active desegregation case for the stated purpose of controlling the district's implementation of federal court-mandated curriculum. These courses were developed specifically under the court order. That order—the Unitary Status Plan—requires us to develop and implement culturally relevant courses taught from both the Mexican American and African American perspectives.

A few weeks ago, a federal appellate court again rejected the state's effort to intervene in the desegregation case.
This threatened enforcement proceeding is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent the federal court orders denying the State's intervention. It seeks to undermine our compliance with the curriculum mandates of the Unitary Status Plan. 

I look forward to sitting down with in-coming Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas when she takes office later this month. During the election Ms. Douglas emphasized local control for curriculum decisions and we are eager to work with her as we continue to satisfy both state and federal law.
Now, it'll be up to Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Diane Douglas to decide whether she'll pursue the violation order against TUSD or not.

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