Special Delivery: TUSD Desegregation Plan Goes Public

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On Friday, Nov. 9, around 6:30 p.m., after almost 10 months of meetings, negotiations and several extensions, a proposed desegregation plan for Tucson Unified School District was released by the U.S. District Court-appointed special master Willis Hawley.

If you want to go straight to the plan, here you go:

Unitary_Status_Plan_12-11-09.pdf

The 84-page document begins with the history of the almost 40-year-old desegregation case that began in 1974. The plan covers about 10 areas of focus: student assignment, transportation, administration and certified staff, professional development, quality of education, discipline, family and community engagement, extracurricular activities, facilities and technology, and accountability and transparency.

Within the document are also objections noted from the parties involved: the Mendoza plaintiffs representing Mexican-American students; the Fisher plaintiffs representing African-American students; TUSD; and the U.S. Justice Department.

Within this document is a proposal to return Mexican-American studies classes back to TUSD for the 2013-2014 school year. However, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has already tried to prevent the classes from being part of the negotiations and deseg planning. U.S. District Judge David C. Bury already put Horne off, but told the AG that his office could file objections when the plan was publicly released.

The other objections noted in the document perhaps give us clues as to the negotiations process that's taken place thus far (TUSD objects to the Mexican-American studies classes returning as core classes, meaning classes that count toward academic credit for English and history). The proposed plan was originally supposed to be presented to the public in mid-July, but negotiations weren't going so well, and Hawley went to Bury for an extension. Bury allowed an extension, and agreed to Hawley's other request that all communications, documents and negotiations submitted to the court be privileged and confidential.

The extension granted gave the parties until late October. That wasn't the last extension request Hawley went back to Bury in late September and asked for new deadlines that presented the plan to the public in early November and took the community process into December.

Look for more on the plan on the Range, and in this week's Tucson Weekly. However, now is a good time to remind you of the other deadlines involved in the desegregation plan:

Nov. 28 is Horne's deadline to file any objection re: Mexican-American studies.

Between Nov. 26-28 the deseg plan is supposed to be made available for public review and comment at each school and on-line. Public comment period closes Nov. 28.

The special master will make all public comments available "for review by the Parties and the State, upon request, with the identity of the person making the comment being confidential."

By December 10, a revised version of the desegregation plan be filed with the court, changes will be identified "if any are made pursuant to the public comment process."

By December 14, all legal parties involved and the AG's office should file any responses to any objections and changes made to the document. There won't be any replies, but the special master will file a recommendation with the "court within 10 days of receiving the Responses."

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