Parents react to TUSD circus

Parents react to TUSD circus

CREATED Apr 11, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - The circus surrounding the Tucson Unified School District is enough to cause some parents to re-think their choice for their child's education.  Parents are reacting to recent events with a range of strong emotions after Tuesday's board meeting ended with protests and a smoke bomb.

The smoke bomb came just as board members voted to drop the director of Mexican American Studies, Sean Arce.  Former students, community members and TUSD staffers in favor of the decision spoke for hours during public comment.  The continuing controversy leaves some TUSD parents questioning their children's edition.

Edward Lopez's daughter is in kindergarten, but he says he's not sure TUSD is where she should stay.

"I have thought about moving her out of the district to see if there's anything else out there that would help her learn about her ethnicity and things like that," he said, adding that he didn't think the program needed fixing.

"It never hurt anybody and now it's just causing more of a distraction with everything that's going on," said Lopez.

The images of demonstrators zip-tied to one another, chained to chairs or setting off smoke bombs are disturbing for parents like James Parke and other parents who trust the board and school system to keep order in the learning process.  Parke says he doesn't fear for his children at school, but feels the whole controversy is getting out of hand.

"I think it's inappropriate that they have to do that or they feel they have to do that," he said, "I think it's dangerous for any child to be put in that position or feel that they have to do something like that to react to something."

Other parents regard the protests as purely political, and as long as they stay out of the classroom, their children will stay in.

"The way that the school district's going is I think on the right direction," said TUSD parent Richard Powell, "Sahuaro and Gridley and Gale where my kids have grown up are awesome."

TUSD Superintendent Dr. John Pedicone released a statement Wednesday clarifying the board's decision to terminate Sean Arce's contract, and referred to Tuesday's smoke bomb in the letter:

"TUSD School Safety officers appropriately responded to and handled the incident he said They maintained a level of safety while working to identify the person responsible for the act.
The district is sensitive to concerns about how decisions impact staff, faculty, and our programs. We are committed to improving the quality of education for all our children."