The first of three public forums to discuss the new plan for helping TUSD end its decades-old desegregation order will be tonight.

The Tucson Unified School District planned three forums this week to discuss the proposal, called a unitary status plan. The plan focuses on balancing the racial makeup of schools, improving the hiring and retention of minority employees and improving the educational opportunities for black and Hispanic students.

Each forum will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

The meetings are:

• Tonight at Tucson High Magnet School, 400 N. Second Ave.

• Tuesday at El Pueblo Regional Center, 101 W. Irvington Road.

• Wednesday at Palo Verde High School, 1302 S. Avenida Vega.

The plan, which was filed Nov. 9 in federal court, also focuses on changes needed in such areas as facilities and technology, discipline, family and community engagement, transportation of minority students, student assignment and extracurricular activities. It provides specific timelines as to when the district must meet the plan's requirements.

All public comments will be forwarded to Special Master Willis Hawley, who will submit his final plan to the court by Dec. 10. The final plan must be approved by the federal court.

The plan is the latest step in the effort to improve racial balance and the quality of education for black and Hispanic students in TUSD's schools.

It began with a class-action lawsuit filed against the district by the parents of Hispanic and black students that eventually led to the district being placed under a federal court desegregation order more than 30 years ago.

In 2009, the desegregation order was lifted, and TUSD began operating under what is called a post-unitary plan.

Hawley, a University of Maryland professor emeritus who is an expert in race relations and academic achievement, was brought on by the federal court at the beginning of this year to create a new plan after it was determined TUSD did not act in good-faith compliance while it was under the original desegregation decree, and that court oversight would resume.

TUSD receives millions of dollars in funding each year to pay for programs and policies required under its desegregation order. The city's largest district has more than 51,000 students, with about 32,000 Hispanic and about 2,800 black students.

Read the plan

The proposed special plan to help bring an end to TUSD's decades-old desegregation case is available for public review. The unitary status plan is available in English and Spanish.

To read the report online, go to

The website lists ways the public can comment on the plan. Public comments must be received by Wednesday.

Also, the plan is available in the main office of each TUSD school.