In the first days after the closure of the Tucson Unified School District desegregation court case, district administrators are still considering the court’s final order and how they should proceed in equity and equality efforts. .
But at least one thing seems clear in Tuesday’s court order: Control and authority are returned to the district and its elected board of directors.
Board member Ravi Shah said on Friday he expected the board would now be able to make decisions without seeking court approval.
“It will be a huge advantage because we can really do what is best for our community and our students,” Shah said, adding that the court did not share the same familiarity as the board with the community. TUSD.
TUSD spokeswoman Karla Escamilla said district officials were not granting interviews on the desegregation case pending a full review of the court order by their legal department.
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U.S. District Court Judge David C. Bury issued the order on Tuesday, July 19, granting the TUSD unitary status, meaning the district had eliminated vestiges of past discrimination.
The order, which ended the case on July 20, ended the decades-long lawsuit that stemmed from two class action lawsuits filed in 1974 by a black family and a Mexican American family who accused TUSD of segregation.
The two trials were later consolidated, and in 1978 the court found that discriminatory segregation existed in the district. This placed TUSD under judicial review, in which the court had to approve any action that might impact students.
Sylvia Campoy, a representative for the Latino plaintiffs, declined to comment on Friday because she had not yet discussed the final court order with the plaintiffs and attorney. An attorney and a representative for the African-American plaintiffs could not be reached for comment.
Post Unit Status Plan
Adelita Grijalva, who served as a board member for the last 20 years of the 48-year-old’s trial, said the judicial review included actions such as approving annual budgets, creating new employee positions and the implementation or dismantling of programs.
“The district deserved to be subject to the court order,” she said, adding that there were clear signs of discrimination against black and Latino students.
Still, she noted that it was frustrating to have to ask permission for almost every action taken by the council.
Both Grivalva and Shah said the district has gone a long way to ensure that all actions represent the best interests of the community.
“Our leadership is so different. We have a board elected by our community that truly reflects our community,” Shah said.
“I think this is the most diverse board we’ve ever had at TUSD in terms of racial background, LGBTQ background, economic background, and that really makes a difference,” he said. -he declares.
During the 2021-2022 school year, TUSD served just under 46,400 students. Of these, approximately 64% were Hispanic students and nearly 7% were African American.
Going forward, as required by the court, the district must follow a postunit status plan, in which it details how the district plans to ensure continued fairness and equality for the students it serves. .
Although Shah was unable to provide specific details on this plan, he said the community can expect more information on the desegregation efforts and the details of this plan which will be discussed at the meeting. an upcoming meeting of the TUSD Board of Directors.
“The work to address disparities continues. This is a job the board is going to do whether or not there is judicial oversight,” Shah said.
Have questions or advice about K-12 education in Southern Arizona? Contact Genesis reporter Lara at [email protected]