Former TUSD teacher's Mexican American Studies suit dismissed

2013-02-14T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T08:47:08Z Former TUSD teacher's Mexican American Studies suit dismissedAlexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A lawsuit filed against TUSD by an ex-teacher who spoke out against Mexican American Studies has been dismissed, with both sides agreeing to pay their own legal costs and no damages awarded.

John Ward filed the defamation lawsuit in 2011, claiming false statements made by the then-director of Mexican American Studies Sean Arce and curriculum specialist Jose Gonzalez damaged his reputation as an educator.

The TUSD Governing Board approved a settlement agreement on Tuesday.

The lawsuit dates to 2002, when Ward was assigned to teach a U.S. history class from a Mexican American perspective. According to Ward, during the first week of school, Augustine Romero, then the director of Mexican American Studies, and Arce, a program specialist who later took over the program, informed him that they would lead instruction but that Ward would assign the grades.

As the teacher of record, Ward was determined to be involved in the instruction and contended Romero and Arce were "not teaching American history but rather were proselytizing a political point of view to the students."

He claimed to have heard racist comments, denial of American sovereignty in the Southwest United States, advocacy for illegal immigration and impugning of police officers and Anglo teachers as racists.

Ward's suit said that, after his complaints about the class content were rebuffed, he asked to be placed in another social-studies class rather than engage in a "political fight he believed he would lose."

Ward quit his position at Tucson High School in good standing in 2006 but remained a visible critic of the Mexican American Studies program.

In a 2010 interview, a reporter told Ward that Arce said one of the reasons Ward was removed from the classroom was because he had used profanity and slammed books in front of students - a false statement, according to Ward. The statements were subsequently repeated by Gonzalez in public forums.

Efforts to reach Ward were unsuccessful Wednesday.

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

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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