TUSD axing Mexican American Studies director

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TUSD axing Mexican American Studies director

CREATED Apr 4, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith
Web Producer: Chuck Meyer

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The most visible advocate for Mexican American Studies is probably losing his job. 
Program Director Sean Arce has heard from TUSD his contract will not be renewed.

Arce's attorney says the move is premature.

When the Mexican American Studies program came under attack, program director Sean Arce came to its defense.

In a May 2010 interview he said, "We find that for Latino students this class acts as a mirror. When students find themselves in the curriculum as reinforced through research - it's a validation as who they are as a people, a validation of the cultural contributions to the U-S."
Arce defended the program against then State School Superintendent Tom Horne, who wrote a law to levy millions in fines against the program under the claim that it teaches students to resent other races.
Arce sued to overturn the law and found himself sued by former teacher John Ward who said he was pressured out of the program when he said he thought it radicalized students.
Now that TUSD's board has shut down the program, Arce's been notified his contract will probably not be renewed.
Arce's attorney, Richard Martinez, says it's premature because he thinks a Federal judge may rule soon to overturn the law that led TUSD to shut down the program.

"If that's taken away as unconstitutional, then the program needs to be reinstated and certainly the reinstatement of the program includes keeping the same director and teachers."

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Martinez: "Does this seem like it's an effort to dismantle the program so it's hard to reconstitute if you get a court order that it should be reinstated?" 

Martinez: "I think part of the move here by Superintendent Pedicone is to make sure the program can't be brought back, at least not in the form that it existed which will create many problems for TUSD."
Martinez says if TUSD's board follows through on firing Arce that could lead to still more lawsuits.

TUSD'S superintendent is not commenting, at least until the board formally considers Arce's contract.  
That will likely happen, along with many other employment contracts, in the board meeting next Tuesday.