A federal judge plans to rule quickly on whether the case involving TUSD's Mexican American Studies program should be dismissed.
U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima also heard arguments for a motion for preliminary injunction that would prevent Arizona schools chief John Huppenthal from taking further action on the program, which he declared in violation of state law earlier this year.
The federal case was initiated by 11 TUSD Mexican American Studies educators who are acting independently from the district. They are challenging the constitutionality of the law formerly known as HB 2281.
The law prohibits courses that promote resentment toward a race or class of people; are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic race; advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals; and promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.
The teachers claim that they will be adversely impacted by the law because it infringes on their First Amendment rights and it could cost them their jobs.
Huppenthal's attorney, Kevin Ray, argued not only that the teachers have no proof that they would be terminated, but also that instructional speech may not necessarily be protected speech.
"The state has the right to control content," Ray said.
If Tashima sides with the argument made by Ray to dismiss the case, there will be no need to consider the injunction.
Without an injunction, students and teachers will suffer irreparable harm because it is unlikely that Huppenthal can be swayed to change his position, they argue.
Currently, Huppenthal is not in a position to take any action as he waits for a recommendation from an administrative law judge who presided over TUSD's appeal of Huppenthal's decision.
The decision will come by Jan. 5 at the latest. Huppenthal can then accept, reject or modify the recommendation.
Should Huppenthal maintain his position that the program is in violation, TUSD is at risk of losing millions in state funding until it comes into compliance.
TUSD cannot afford to suffer that type of financial loss and will have no choice but to eliminate the program, thereby eliminating the educators' positions and the opportunity for students to be exposed to the curriculum, Richard Martinez, who is representing the educators, argued.
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Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4175.