Above is the jointly proposed Unitary Status Plan (USP) that was submitted to the Federal District Court on December 10th, 2012 by the parties involved in the Desegregation case; the Fisher Plaintiffs; the Mendoza Plaintiffs; the United States Department of Justice Plaintiff- Intervenor; and Tucson Unified School District- Defendant. Special Master Hawley has, of course, been an intricate part of the USP development process. The proposed Plan denotes areas of disagreement by indicating the objections by each party to the litigation.
The proposed USP now includes a specific section on Dual Language Programs in the Quality of Education section- V. Quality of Education- C. DualLanguage.
Within D. 6.a.ii. Student Engagement and Support- Engaging African American and Latino Students the section now reads:
“By the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, the District shall develop and implement culturally relevant courses of instruction designed to reflect the history, experiences, and culture of African American and Mexican American communities. Such courses of instruction for core English and Social Studies credit shall be developed and offered at all feasible grade levels in all high schools across the District, subject to the District’s minimum enrollment guidelines. All courses shall be developed using the District’s curricular review process and shall meet District and state standards for academic rigor. The core curriculum described in this section shall be offered commencing in the fall term of the 2013-2014 school year. The District shall pilot the expansion of courses designed to reflect the history, experiences, and culture of African American and Mexican American communities to sixth through eighth graders in the 2014-2015 school year, and shall explore similar expansions throughout the K-12 curriculum in the 2015-2016 school year.”
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The District continues to object to this section and the Arizona Attorney General has also filed an objection with the Court in this regard. Mendoza Plaintiffs plan a strong response to the District’s and State’s objections. Their response is due on 12/14.
Section D. 4. C. now states: Director of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Instruction (“CRPI Director”). The position was changed from a coordinator position to a director position.
At this point, the Court will review the USP and consider the objections, which have been filed by each party to the litigation (which does not include the State), as well as the responses to the each party’s objections.
Some have shared concerns about the USP seemingly “excluding” Native Americans and Asians, as well as girls/women and other protected classes relative to making recommendations such as are made pertaining to African American and Latino students and staff. When the lawsuits were filed in 1974, they were filed on behalf of African American and Latino students. The other protected groups did not file lawsuits and the Judge has no authority to provide a remedy for groups that were not part of the original lawsuits. Therefore, the Plan places corrective action emphasis on these two groups.
However, the Mendoza Party has always asserted that by improving educational conditions, such as are detailed in the Plan, there will be marked improvement for all students. A prime example of this is the section on discipline. It is very clear that there continues to be statistical disparity in the over-representation of African American and Latino students who are disciplined when compared to non-minority students. The Plan outlines several actions that the District must take to address the disparity in this area for African American and Latino students. However, the effective implementation of these actions should simultaneously address the disparity that also exists for Native American students who are significantly over-represented in the area of disciplinary action.
The attorneys representing the Mendoza Plaintiffs have done an incredible job throughout the USP development process and much gratitude is owed to Nancy Ramirez- Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund- Western Region Legal Counsel and Lois Thompson an attorney with Proskauer Rose, whose work on this case is performed on a pro bono basis. Moreover, Special Master Hawley has availed a process which allowed for community input. This has impacted the development of the USP up through the most recent changes that have been made within the proposed Plan, as noted above.