TUSD’s Mexican American Studies teachers threaten lawsuit …. again

The attorney for the former teacher plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit against the Tucson Unified School District wrote a letter to the district alleging adverse actions by the district. The highly unusual demand letter concludes, “TUSD must communicate within a (sic) five business days of this letter an immediate complete and total cessation of all HB2281 enforcement actions against the MAS educators or immediate legal action will be taken against TUSD, each member of the Governing Board behind the resolution passed and your administration. This includes seeking damages against all actors in their personal capacity.’

Richard Martinez’s letter essentially claims that the district does not have the right to tell the teachers what to do in the classroom. However, just last month Judge Wallace Tashima dismissed the teachers from a federal lawsuit, finding that they did not have a fundamental right to teach whatever and however they wanted to.

The letter claims that the district’s administration’s instruction to MAS teachers has entered the “realm of discrimination and retaliation” because it reflects the “imposition of terms and conditions of employment that no other TUSD teacher is subjected to.” Contrary to most professionally proffered claims of discrimination, the letter does not identify which class of people is the subject of the discrimination, nor does it offer how that class of people have been, or will be damaged by the discrimination.

Martinez alleges that “The Guiding Principles” document he includes in his correspondence is the source of the ‘terms and conditions” that he claims are unfair. However those “Guiding Principles” were written by Abel Morado in response to Curtis Acosta’s demand to morado that instructions be written because Acosta couldn’t understand what was expected of a teacher in a non-MAS classroom.

Martinez appears to claim that the district is discriminating against the program due to the ethnicity of the program. One attorney summed up the move by Martinez, “He rants and raves and seldom accomplishes much. Ignore him.” The lawsuit that was filed by some of the MAS teachers was not against TUSD, so there would be absolutely no reason for TUSD administrators to engage in retribution.

Mr. Martinez failed to provide a single specific example of any negative actions taken against the former MAS teachers, but some district insiders speculate that “Perhaps these teachers are concerned that they will now have the opportunity to be observed and evaluated, something only one of them has ever experienced (and that only one time) as MAS teachers. If that is the case it could hardly be considered discriminatory since every other TUSD teacher is evaluated every year. Treating people who have been the recipients of favoritism in the past without that same favoritism is not discrimination.”

Martinez was the lawyer who represents defendants Jose Gonzales, Sean Arce, and Augustine Romero in the Ward lawsuit. Ward was just awarded attorney fees in the discovery portion of the case. Martinez also lost the federal case of a Tucson Police Department officer in the matter of Arizona’s controversial law, SB1070.

In a separate action the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) filed a response in federal court demanding that the Special Master, assigned to the district’s desegregation case, implement the portion of the Post Unitary Status Plan which made the classes electives. The supporters claim that the meaning of the word elective should be interpreted to mean that students have a choice to take them, but they would still fulfill a core requirement.

Previously the group UNIDOS stopped an attempt to make the classes electives by taking over the School Board meeting at which the Board was to vote on the “Stegeman Reolution.” Dr. Mark Stegeman proposed that the classes come into accordance with the PUSP.

The Fischer plaintiffs did not join in the request. They have objected to that provision of the PUSP since before Judge Bury ordered the PUSP. The Fisher plaintiffs have fought for programs that close the achievement gap since the 1970’s. There is no verifiable evidence that the Mexican American Studies classes reduce the gap.