Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Thousands of children depend on TUSD'S leadership to influence their education.
Now, TUSD's board president is planning to step down and become a regular board member--sometime before June 30th.
The furor over Mexican American Studies has dominated Doctor Mark Stegeman's time as board president.
The state school superintendent threatened the district with millions of dollars in fines under a state law that forbids programs that foster racial resentment.
Stegeman describes the job as a hot seat and says it's time to let someone else try it on for size
In March, protestors disrupted the meeting, and set off smoke bombs after the board voted not to renew the contract of the Mexican American Studies director Sean Arce.
Now, board President Doctor Mark Stegeman says he wants to step down as President, in part because he feels regular members have more freedom to push for programs they favor. For instance, he wants to revamp the TUSD policy on social promotion that may promote students along with their classmates even if their academic performance.
Last year the board questioned Stegeman's ability to control rowdy meetings and removed him as President. Then board member Judy Burns died. Her replacement helped make Stegeman president again.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Doctor Stegeman: "Did you have some actions involving Mexican American Studies in mind as you resumed the Presidency at that time?
Stegeman: "No, I don't think the Presidency affected those outcomes. Those outcomes are determined by vote and everyone has one vote. Again, who is the President, doesn't really affect very much but it does. the Presidency does have a little more influence over the agenda and there were some things I wanted to bring forward that actually had nothing to do with Mexican American Studies."
Stegeman says at that time he was interesting in revising policies on agendas and meetings.
Board member Michael Hicks voted with Stegeman to shut down Mexican American Studies, but he does not want to be board President.
Craig Smith asked Hicks: "The critics of the board have targeted you almost more strongly than they have Dr Stegeman. Does that play into your decision?"
Hicks: "Absolutely not. No. Doesn't play into my decision whatsoever. My decision, again, is based off of, I haven't been there long enough that I feel that I can have the experience to be the President and again, it's going to take somebody who's going to be able to build consensus so it's going to be a difficult, daunting task for this individual to overcome some of the issues that are going to be coming."
Board member Adelita Grijalva says she would be interested in serving as president.
KGUN9 News talked with attorney Richard Martinez who has worked to preserve Mexican American Studies.
He disagrees with Stegeman's suggestion that things may quiet down for TUSD. He foresees a contentious summer as advocates for Mexican American Studies work to revive the program through a long-standing desegregation case.