TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez is ready to fight to save culturally relevant classes, and believes that unlike last time, the district can prevail.
The TUSD courses were deemed illegal by outgoing Arizona Schools Chief John Huppenthal during his final hours in office on Friday, leaving Tucson’s largest school district facing a possible funding loss of $14 million annually.
Sanchez is hopeful that the matter will be reconciled by either Huppenthal’s successor, Diane Douglas who was sworn in on Monday, or by appeal.
The Tucson Unified School District went the appeal route in 2011 after then-state schools superintendent Tom Horne also found the district’s ethnic studies classes to be in violation of state law. TUSD, however, lost and ultimately decided to eliminate the classes to avoid the financial penalty.
At the time, the state poked many holes in the district’s case because it lacked a written curriculum to show what was actually being taught. That is no longer the case, Sanchez said.
“We feel very confident that we are in a good position,” he said. “We have a written curriculum, all of the texts that are being used in the courses have been adopted by the governing board, a lot of the issues that were at question during the previous challenge, we’ve worked to ensure we’ve addressed.”
While Sanchez acknowledges that TUSD could not sustain such a large financial hit, he believes it is best to stay in good standing with the federal court order, which requires that the courses be taught.
“We feel we’ve done everything we need to be in compliance with the state law … but we’re also doing everything we need to stay in compliance with our federal court order,” Sanchez said. “If we fail to be in compliance with the unitary status plan, that puts the district