A federal court proceeding has been set to hear arguments to prohibit Arizona Schools Chief John Huppenthal from taking action on TUSD's Mexican American Studies program.

The hearing will be held Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. at the Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Court-house, 405 W. Congress St., in front of U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima.

At the same time, Tashima will hear a motion filed on behalf of Huppenthal to dismiss the case.

The motion for preliminary injunction was filed by 11 TUSD Mexican American Studies educators and two students who are challenging the constitutionality of a state law aimed at ethnic studies - formerly HB 2281.

Huppenthal declared TUSD's Mexican American Studies program in violation of the law, and the district is at risk of losing millions of dollars in state funding.

The law in question 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.

TUSD maintains that it is in compliance with the law and filed for an administrative appeal. That appeal is under review by Administrative Law Judge Lewis D. Kowal.

Kowal could issue his recommendation to Huppenthal at any time over the next month or so. Huppenthal will then have 30 days to accept, reject or modify Kowal's decision.

The Mexican American Studies educators argue that without an injunction, students and teachers will suffer irreparable harm.

"HB 2281 exists for one reason: to give the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction the means to end Tucson Unified School District's (Mexican American Studies) program," the teachers said in their motion. "Superintendent Huppenthal's opportunity to do so is fast approaching.

"In his 2010 campaign, he promised to end the MAS program with his pledge to 'Stop La Raza.' There is no reason to doubt that Superintendent Huppenthal will carry out that promise."

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