The paperwork for the effort to recall Tucson Unified School District governing-board member Michael Hicks was filed yesterday morning at the Pima County Elections office, and volunteers will be at the Tucson Festival of Books beginning today to start collecting the 24,000 signatures needed to put the recall on the ballot.
Members of a group of Tucson activists, parents and students calling themselves Citizens for Educational Excellence (CEE) said a Hicks recall isn't the only goal on their list of changes they want to bring to TUSD. While collecting signatures, which are due in July, the group plans to support a slate of candidates for the three-governing board seats up for re-election and currently held by Mark Stegeman, Alexandre Sugiyama and Miguel Cuevas.
Volunteers are meeting this morning at 11:30 a.m. to pick up petitions at the Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs Lounge, Room Chavez 205 (northwest of Old Main), where Chicano literature teacher Curtis Acosta is speaking about the banning of Latino literature in Tucson.
Why a recall effort against Hicks? The Tucson Weekly reported earlier that Hicks has spoken out against the Mexican-American studies classes, but it was an interview he did on the Garret Lewis show on KNST AM 790/FM 97.1 that motivated members of the community to organize a recall. During the radio interview, Hicks allegedly lied about where he was during the school board meeting on April 26, 2011, painting a picture that he feared for his life and felt intimidated by the student protest.
This is the school board meeting in which the student group UNIDOS took over the dais and prevented the school board meeting from continuing.
Hicks was filmed by Three Sonorans blogger David Morales that evening walking into the meeting room, talking to MAS supporters and the media.
But what angered others more were his additional comments about students who participated in a teach-in at the University of Arizona, comparing the event to the Penn State child molestation case. The community demanded an apology.
In reaction to Randy Parraz (a key figure in the recall of former state Senate President Russell Pearce) volunteering his time to come down from Phoenix on a Sunday (Feb. 26) to talk strategy about organizing a Hicks recall, Hicks sent out a press release that he won't be intimidated by well-funded "outside agitators."
“The locally elected Tucson Unified School District Governing Board voted to follow the laws of the state of Arizona. The supporters of the Mexican-American Studies program, argued for local control in their complaints about the state’s Superintendent John Huppenthal’s actions in the matter of TUSD’ Mexican American Studies classes. Now these same individuals bring in a well funded activist from the state capitol, Mr. Randy Parraz. Apparently these individuals do not really have an interest in local control, but in their control.
The progressives behind this publicity stunt are determined to cast anyone as villains, who does not support their efforts to politicize our classrooms and exploit our district’s students. I refuse to be intimidated by these bullying tactics. I was elected into this position by an overwhelming number of TUSD voters; I will continue my
commitment to this position and to work diligently to promote student achievement for all students.”
Mr. Hicks questions the basis of the recall, saying that “I was genuinely concerned for my welfare, and more importantly for the welfare for the student’s during the takeover. I alone, can say what I was or was not thinking during this takeover".
Recall organizers are basing their recall on their claim that I lied when I said that I was concerned for my safety and that of others during the takeover last spring by organized protesters.
“I can assure Mr. Parraz and others that I am not concerned or fearful of this recall effort. It is unfortunate that Mr. Parraz will waste valuable energy, time and money, when the school kids in Arizona need the focused attention of all adults in these difficult times.”