Posted: Feb 6, 2012 3:45 PM
Updated: Feb 6, 2012 3:45 PM
TUCSON - The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund is taking legal action against Tucson's largest school district, TUSD.
The group says the district is in federal violation for not offering Mexican American Studies classes as electives.
Dr. Mark Stegeman, the school board president said, "we desire to do what the federal court wants us to do. But we were stuck with a short deadline and went forward. But we definitely want to comply with the federal court."
According to Stegeman, the district is caught between federal and state rulings. Back in the 1990s a federal guideline, the Post Unitary Status Plan was initiated. It required the district to offer Mexican American Studies as electives to its students. The district complied until last month when the state ruled the way in which it was being done, was wrong. Stegeman said, at this point, legal counsel needs to figure out how to satisfy both state and federal rulings.
"I think we can't say too often we want Mexican American Studies history and culture in our curriculum. That wasn't the issue here. The issue was how we're going to do it. And we are going to commence on with a program to bring it back but bring it back and in the right way," he explained.
In the 1970s, a federal desegregation order required a fair mix of students and resources in all schools. Armand Salese, one of the attorneys from the case still follows the district's progress, "the emphasis should be how do we achieve to reduce/eliminate that gap between hispanic students and white students, between black students and white students."
Salese thinks any legal action against the district will fail, he just hopes students are the ones who win, "the issue, in my opinion, should be how well we are educating these kids in the basics so they can compete in society not how well we're educating them politically."
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