Oct 19, 2010 12:16 AM
TUCSON - HB 2281, a measure to end Tucson Unified School's ethnic studies program is set to go into law at the end of this year. But supporters of the courses say they're not backing down and are challenging the law's legality.
Monday night, the group Save Ethnic Studies held a news conference about the lawsuit they've filed against HB 2281.
TUSD educators say the basis of the lawsuit is discrimination and free speech.
The 11 plaintiffs in the lawsuit are all ethnic studies teachers.
Sean Arce says, "I am defending the teaching of Mexican American Chicano history, culture and the contributions. So that my own children Mya and Ameliano know the importance of where they came from and where they are going."
Supporters say the courses promote heritage, but Dr. Tom Horne, Superintendent of Public Instruction says la raza studies intimidate and divide students based on race.
In a statement to News 4, Dr. Horne who is named in the suit says quote, "I have letters from teachers and former teachers detailing the radical agenda that takes place in these classes."
Horne says he expects that when the law takes effect December 31st, the Department of Education will pull 10 percent of TUSD's entire budget until it complies with HB 2281.
Attorney Richard Martinez says, "Well it's our contention that la raza studies does not violate the law."
Martinez hopes by filing the lawsuit, a court orders an injunction against the law, allowing ethnic studies to continue.
He believes the courses improve student grades and graduation rates.
"This is the most important program that has made the biggest strides in closing that gap and that's the very tool they want to take away from us," says Martinez.
Right now, TUSD has allowed students to enroll in ethnic studies classes -- even though the law banning ethnic solitary goes into effect in January.
News 4 will keep you posted of any developments.