Photo: Pact May Put End to Long-Standing Arizona School Discrimination Suit
Groups representing black and Latino plaintiffs have reached an agreement with the Tucson Unified School District that could bring closure to a 1974 lawsuit over racial segregation in southern Arizona’s public schools, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said Monday.
The proposal aims to increase racially and ethnically integrated schools, improve magnet schools and programs to promote integration and educational quality and enhance the racial and ethnic diversity of TUSD’s administrators, teachers and staff, among other goals.
If approved, the plan would also restore courses on Mexican-American history and culture that the TUSD eliminated earlier this year under pressure from the state government, MALDEF Western Regional Counsel Nancy Ramirez said.
“The restoration and expansion of literature and social studies courses that focus on Mexican-American experiences recognizes the important role these courses play in engaging students and improving their academic achievement and graduation rates and is a critical strategy for closing the achievement gap for Latino students,” she said.
The TUSD, the biggest school district in southern Arizona, has a student population that is 60 percent Hispanic.
As part of the legal process for approving the plan announced Monday, three community forums will be held to allow parents to voice their opinions about it.
The comments received about the proposal will be presented before a federal court on Dec. 10, and four days later a response must be given to any objections raised against it.
Sylvia Campoy, a teacher and one of the plaintiffs, told the same press conference that they have high hopes that this proposal will transform the TUSD into a school district “open to the community and responsible for the actions it takes.”
The lawsuit was filed in May 1974 by the NAACP. Five months later a group of Hispanics brought a similar suit.