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TUSD must maintain current desegregation monitoring model

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The 1978 TUSD desegregation court order included the creation of TUSD's Independent Citizens' Committee, or ICC, which was charged with monitoring the district's progress in complying with the court order. The ICC reported to the Governing Board for 32 years

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In 2009, the court declared TUSD unitary and accepted the TUSD board-approved post-unitary status plan. The Fisher and Mendoza plaintiffs appealed the unitary status ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2010, the TUSD board disbanded the ICC. Approximately one year later, the 9th Circuit court remanded the desegregation case to the district court, supporting the Fisher and Mendoza appeals.

The ICC submitted yearly compliance reports to the board, delineating areas of non-compliance, along with corrective action recommendations. The objective was to provide compliance reports that would bolster responsive and swift corrective action by TUSD in moving toward full compliance. It was believed that these efforts supported all students, particularly those impacted by vestiges of discrimination: African-American and Mexican-American students. Compiling the reports was often hindered by TUSD's actions, such as their denial of information/data requests and by the elimination of the ICC budget and staffing. The ICC persevered and compliance reports continued to be submitted despite the absence of district support. Throughout its lifespan, the ICC reports were ignored, while TUSD simultaneously attempted to stigmatize the ICC as "adversarial." Conversely, the ICC compliance reports have been duly acknowledged by the court and referenced as part of the historical record showing TUSD's lack of good faith in complying with the court order. The ICC was comprised of an ethnically and racially diverse group of individuals, with an excellent blend of expertise reflected by parents, educators, civic leaders, attorneys, civil rights experts, activists and business professionals.

After years of witnessing TUSD disregard repeated findings of noncompliance, the ICC became convinced that a direct monitoring line to the court would promote compliance with the desegregation order. TUSD strongly objected to this. The ICC also understood that public education expertise is critical as an integral part of any monitoring body appointed by the court. TUSD's accountability relative to its yearly tax-levied $62 million desegregation budget (approximately $1 billion, to date) and its historical non-compliance with the desegregation order only seemed to progressively worsen. Still, there is hope!

Court Appointment of a Special Master and the Desegregation Unitary Status Plan

In January 2012, the court appointed a special master who reports directly to the court and is responsible for monitoring the unitary status plan. The selected individual has definitive expertise in public education. We strongly support this court-established monitoring model. In February 2013, the USP was jointly stipulated and submitted to the court by all of the parties. The USP is comprehensive and calls for extensive monitoring by the special master, who has obtained the assistance of local experts in this effort. The U.S. Department of Justice and TUSD (the defendant) are now proposing a different monitoring model. (In our historical perspective, DOJ has not been a consistent party in this case and often seems to bend to the side of the defendant.) We are adamantly opposed to the DOJ/TUSD proposed modifications to the current monitoring model as well as to any mutations of the USP as part of this alteration agenda. The current model incorporated public education expertise in the selection of the special master; the proposed model does not. The current model had "buy-in" from all of the parties, which the proposed model will most assuredly not obtain. The proposed model diminishes the function of the plaintiffs and special master, which is unfavorable to the effective and timely implementation and monitoring of the USP.

It is disingenuous for two of the parties to go awry and attempt to divorce themselves from their legally stipulated agreements. It is also duplicitous and impertinent for either of these parties to attempt to paint the special master as adversarial, as TUSD has demonstrated during its magnet school forums. We are only too familiar with this deflective and demonizing strategy in imposing such a stigma and understand the motivation behind it: Blame and discredit someone else and accountability becomes confusing and diffused. TUSD, as the defendant, must be held accountable under its current court order. This calls for ongoing comprehensive monitoring under the current monitoring model, which should remain standing! TUSD should effectively implement the USP as has been stipulated by all of the parties and halt its institutional resistance to desegregation.

Respectfully,

Members of the last ICC: Lorraine Aguilar, Frieda Baker, Clarence Boykins, Georgia Brousseau, Joel Brown, Sylvia Campoy, Barbara Kridee, Annabelle Nuñez, Nellie Suarez, Joann Thompson and Evelyn Yanagihashi

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