A former TUSD teacher and opponent of Mexican-American Studies has filed a defamation lawsuit against the district and two of its employees.

The lawsuit, filed by John Ward on Monday, names the Tucson Unified School District along with Mexican-American Studies Director Sean Arce and Jose Gonzalez, a curriculum specialist.

Ward is seeking damages for harm to his reputation and for mental pain and suffering; compensatory and punitive damages; and other relief as the court deems proper.

He alleges that defamatory statements by Arce and Gonzalez have damaged his reputation as an educator.

The lawsuit stems from statements made late last year in which Arce and Gonzalez reportedly said that Ward was removed from a Mexican-American Studies classroom because he had used profanity and was slamming books in front of students - statements that Ward says are false.

Ward argues that while employed at TUSD, he was recognized as an outstanding teacher. But conflict arose when he began voicing opposition to instruction in his U.S. history class that was to be taught from the Mexican-American perspective.

He felt that rather than teaching American history, the students were being taught a politicized view of the mistreatment of Hispanics, the suit states.

Ward says he was told that if he had a problem with the program, he could remove himself.

He ultimately transferred to another classroom before taking a leave of absence to get a master's degree.

Ward returned to teaching for the 2005-2006 school year and resigned at the end of it in good standing, he said.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@azstarnet.com or 573-4175.