Mexican American Studies Legal Update Today 1330 AM

At the Saturday, Jan. 14 community forum, Tucson attorney Richard Martinez gave an update on the federal court proceedings in the lawsuit he filed against the state in 2010. Martinez first filed the lawsuit in 2010 with 11 Mexican American Studies teachers signed on as plaintiffs and eventually added two students to the lawsuit.

Maritnez will be on All Things Political with Steve Leal today at 12 Noon, on 1330 AM The Jolt. Give a listen, or even call in at 520-529-3508.

After the jump is part of the legal update from the Jan. 14 forum on U.S. District Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima's recent ruling from Martinez.

“First the Acosta lawsuit, which is the teachers’ and students’ lawsuit is alive and well, going forward. Judge ruled the students have standing. That’s the first hurdle — he said yes,” Martinez said.

But what most people didn’t realized is that last fall he filed for a motion for summary judgment on three of the constitutional claims. Huppenthal’s attorneys at the state Attorney General’s office, have to respond by Monday, Jan. 16 and Martinez then has to reply by end of month.

“We are hoping he will hear that motion in February,” he said, adding that a decision could come forward by March.
“If we do, then 2281 is gone and what the state has done is completely stopped. Even though there is a perception that legal cases go on for years, this one is poised right now to get a very quick result.”

Martinez introduced a new plaintiff in the lawsuit, Tucson High Magnet School senior Nicolas Dominguez, who is (was) currently enrolled in three Mexican American studies classes offered at the high school. If Tashima approves Dominguez, the student will be added to the lawsuit as part of a “motion for intervention.”

The goal is to file a motion for a temporary restraining order stopping TUSD and a restraining order stopping Huppenthal. If Tashima issues a ruling one expectation would be that the TUSD school board meets to reverse its decision. If that doesn’t happen, then “TUSD could find themselves the defendant in a lawsuit very quickly,” Martinez said.

While the TUSD board made its decision to not appeal and the federal lawsuit proceedings continue, in the background is the district’s ongoing desegregation court order and a Post Unitary Status Plan the district passed in 2009. Frustrated, plaintiffs in that case went back to court and the district judge ordered a special master be appointed by the court to keep an eye on the district and report to the court.

Those plaintiffs, in a case that goes back almost 30 years, are represented by attorneys from the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and Martinez said the organization is planning to do a community forum soon to provide a fuller update on the case. However, this week the organization is expected to file a contempt motion against TUSD due to the district’s vote dismantling MAS and violation of a federal court order that required the district to expand the program, not diminish or end it.

“From a lawyers’ perspective that’s a pretty serious thing. Then it will be up to (the judge) that he will deal with it or send it to the special master,” Martinez said, describing the 18-page special master order as “a very rare and significant order. It puts the school district under supervision of the special master and has given him extraordinary powers. … At the TUSD level they believe they can do whatever they want … and yet they’ve had our community and some legal cases that have said, ‘Oh no you can’t.’”

Martinez said the two lawsuits are close in timing, but that right now his lawsuit is the cleanest shot to stop the law and the state from fining the district. Adding Dominguez to the lawsuit will help Martinez show the loss of the classes and that nothing can replace them.

“And the significant part is the crazy book banning going on,” Martinez said.

Martinez said to keep in mind that the Hicks resolution is a farce because its language says it has kept MAS. “No they didn’t, no they didn’t. In fact they talked about coming back with something in August that includes Latinos … in curriculum and social studies that includes Latinos, whatever that means no one knows. If you look at the resolution carefully they have banned all the other classes. We will no longer have any English Latino literature classes — none. They are off the books forever according to that resolution. Our art classes are gone and our middle school classes are gone and our elementary school programs are gone,” Martinez said.

“Then they have the fallacy that we really care about Latino students being successful and closing the achievement gap and we are going to do something about it,” said Martinez, referring to comments made by TUSD deputy superintendent Lupita Garcia to a group of students who marched from Cholla High School in a walk-out on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Garcia told the students that she has $82,000 for tutoring. “As if tutoring were the magic bullet.” If it were then “we’d all be going to Harvard.”