TUSD headquarters

Tucson Unified School District is increasing property taxes, slightly, to pay for transportation-related needs.

Tucson’s largest school district may have to wait a little longer to find out whether court supervision will be partially lifted in its decades-old desegregation case.

The special master who oversees Tucson’s Unified’s efforts recommended that the U.S. District Court in the 9th Circuit defer action on TUSD’s appeal for partial unitary status.

In March, TUSD filed a motion to the U.S. District Court in the Ninth Circuit for partial unitary status in the areas of transportation, family and community engagement, technology, facilities, evidence-based accountability system and extracurricular activities.

The district argued that there are no remaining traces of discrimination linked to violations that happened more than four decades ago.

If granted by the judge, the court would no longer provide oversight for those areas. TUSD did not seek relief in the areas of student assignment, quality of education and discipline.

After considering the plaintiffs’ opposition, to craft a “responsible response,” Special Master Willis Hawley said he would have to review virtually all of the requirements of the Unitary Status Plan.

Both the African-American and Latino plaintiffs in the case argued against partial unitary status, saying there hasn’t been enough evidence of compliance to the requirements set in the Unitary Status Plan, which was approved in February 2013.

“Such a review is premature,” Hawley wrote in his recommendation. However, he also added that his recommendation “should not imply that the district has failed to meet the criteria for partial unitary status.”

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TUSD spokeswoman Stefanie Boe said the district has no comment at this time, but added that it will file a response to the recommendation by May 26.

Though the decision is ultimately up to U.S. District Court Judge David Bury, the judge has often sided with the special master.

Sylvia Campoy, who represents the Latino plaintiffs, said she was pleased with the special master’s recommendation, calling partial unitary status “woefully premature and unsubstantiated.”

The areas within the unitary status plan “do not work in isolation of one another,” Campoy said. For example, transportation is intimately connected to student assignment.

“For TUSD to proceed and oppose the special master’s recommendation will once again rack up attorney fees, which could and should be better directed to the district’s efforts to actually comply with the court order,” Campoy added.

Contact: 573-4243 or yjung@tucson.com. On Twitter:


Data reporter

Data reporter on the investigative team for the Arizona Daily Star