I was critical last week of TUSD for not anticipating that a large crowd would want to weigh in on the future of Mexican-American Studies and moving such a controversial meeting to a larger venue, such as one of the many auditoriums that TUSD has at its high schools. People feel disenfranchised—justifiably, in my opinion—when they're not allowed in the meeting room and are expected to listen to the discussion out in the lobby or on the sidewalk via loudspeakers.
After last week's meeting was disrupted by protesting students, TUSD officials announced that they would move the meeting to Catalina High School this Thursday, May 5. Now they're backtracking and moving it back to Tuesday night at 1010 E. 10th St. I still think the small meeting room at district headquarters will be a lousy place for a meeting of such importance.
TUSD Board President Mark Stegeman explains the thinking behind the decision:
I know that concerns have been expressed about our choice of venue, both last Tuesday and for this Tuesday.
I have encouraged staff for several months to consider a larger venue for meetings on controversial topics. Staff has resisted a bit, on cost and logistical grounds, and I have not pushed the point.
(I have also pushed, for more than year, for our meetings to live-streamed on video, or at least recorded on video and posted later. This would provide a better public record, especially given the frequency of visual presentations at meetings. This idea has been slow to gain traction, and we are concerned about minimizing the expense, but I expect it to happen sometime this year.)
I was concerned about the level of security precautions in advance of Tuesday's meeting and a case could be made that we should have done more; but staff has pointed out, I think correctly, that no level of precautions that we were likely to take would have prevented what happened. The seizure of the dais was well-planned and executed in less than one minute.