TUSD's desegregation plan approved, 'culturally relevant' core courses unobjected

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TUSD's desegregation plan approved, 'culturally relevant' core courses unobjected

CREATED Dec 11, 2012 - UPDATED: Dec 12, 2012

Reporter: Maggie Vespa

Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - TUSD's Mexican American Studies program comes with big emotions attached.

While it is not specifically part of the special master's desegregation plan, it was a sticking point for the school board Tuesday night.
Before board members even mentioned the motion, supporters came out swinging.
"I mean how does it feel just being part of history? Because people will write about this," said speaker David Morales.
But despite their showing, many MAS proponents seemed to think their cause was lost.
"Our community has been fighting the battle for education, dignity and respect for way too long," said Daniel Montoya.
"Everyone can see what the pattern is. The future for Latino kids is prisons, not college," said Morales.
So after a brief public comment portion, board members took up the item at hand:
TUSD's desegregation solution, or the "Unitary Status Plan", which contains a clause establishing "culturally relevant" core courses, similar to those struck down in the Mexican American Studies program.
The board voted as the speakers expected.
"The district objects to the mandate for culturally relevant courses in section 5D6, paragraph 2," said board member Dr. Mark Stegeman.
Then a slight twist: a suggestion to vote twice.
First, on the Unitary Plan and second, seperately, on whether to include an official objection to the controversial curriculum.
"But if not, then I have to vote no to the Unitary Plan," said board member Adelita Grjalva.
Board members passed the plan unanimously.  Then, to the objection.
The item failed 2-3.
The crowd is stunned, temporarily. Then applause errupts.
The official objection to Mexican American Studies style courses has failed.
In a news release, TUSD spokesperson Cara Rene said the board unanimously voted to approve the Joint Proposed Unitary Status Plan as submitted to the court on Dec. 10. This is subject to the objections noted therein and set forth in the legal memorandum of objections filed Nov. 9.  
The Nov. 9 legal memorandum includes objections to the culturally relevant course requirement and the term "core." The board also voted to approve two new objections in regards to hiring timelines of district personnel and the creation of a task force. 
The final draft of the Unitary Status Plan will be submitted to the federal court on Dec. 14.
MAS supporters say it's a historic step.
"It was amazing. It's probably one of the best times I've actually come out of here feeling good about coming to the meeting," said MAS alum Flor Burruel.
"We were coming in there expected the worst, like we always do with this board, but you know, it was basically like a blessing," added Montoya.  "I don't know. It was something great."
Teachers who saw the success rates among MAS students call it a historic step.
"Their courses were taken away from them overnight. The teachers felt that the curriculum was taken away from them," said Silvia Campoy, who represents the plantiff in the Fisher-Mendoza v. TUSD.  "In many, many ways this begins the healing process for both the students and the teachers."
Tuesday night's vote doesn't necessarily mean the plan, cultural courses and all, will be implemented.
Until Friday, anyone can submit written objections to the Unitary Status Plan.
They will be reviewed with the plan, by a federal judge.