TUSD taking steps to resolve civil rights complaints

2013-10-26T00:00:00Z TUSD taking steps to resolve civil rights complaintsBy Alexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Tucson Unified School District is working to resolve allegations that it discriminated against Latinos by attempting to limit their participation at Governing Board meetings.

The nonprofit group Civil Rights Center Inc. filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights last year.

While TUSD denies wrongdoing, the district voluntarily agreed to take steps to ensure compliance and will implement a resolution agreement written by the Office of Civil Rights.

In addition to limiting Latino participation by selecting a meeting room that the district knew could not accommodate everyone interested in attending, the complaint alleged that TUSD discriminated against minority individuals with limited English skills by failing to provide them with access to district board meetings, the district’s website and board policies.

The district recently agreed to a number of stipulations, including providing information in Spanish on its webpage and agendas. It also will post meeting schedules in several languages and offer training on how to provide meaningful access for peoplels with limited English skills.

In terms of community involvement at meetings, TUSD is to conduct an internal review of its practices and procedures at board meetings by Jan. 10.

The review will cover whether meeting security procedures are appropriate to ensure there is no intimidation of people seeking to attend or speak at board meetings; whether the procedures for selecting the appropriate meeting room are appropriate to accommodate community interest; and whether procedures allow for adequate public input.

The Office of Civil Rights expects to close the monitoring of TUSD by June 30 unless it determines the district has not fulfilled the terms of the agreement.

If TUSD is found to be out of compliance, the case could be referred to the Justice Department for legal action, or the district could see its funding cut.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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