9th Circuit Rules Against TUSD Mexican American Studies

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling by a lower court ruling in favor of Arizona’s law which prevents teaching hate in classroom in a lawsuit brought by the children and students of Tucson Unified School District Mexican American Studies classes.

Judge Wallace Tashima ruled on Maya Arce, et. al. v. John Huppenthal in 2012, that the State of Arizona had a right to regulate the curriculum taught in its publically funded classrooms. The law, commonly referred to as HB2281, passed in 2010 and was sponsored by immigrant lawmaker Rep. Steve Montenegro.

The justices did overturn Tashima’s ruling against the claim made by defendants that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent. The justices found that there was a material issue of fact as to whether or not there was discriminatory intent on the part of lawmakers, and deemed the motion for summary judgment granted by the lower court was inappropriate. The justice remanded the case to the trial court in order to determine whether or not there was discrimination. Read TUSD Ethnic Studies Ruling here.

The Tucson High School teacher who first raised concerns with the classes, John Ward, a Latino, sought the assistance of then Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne after Horne’s assistant, Margret Dugan Garcia came to the school to counter claims by radical activist Dolores Huerta, who told students that Republicans do not like Latinos.

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In 2012, Tashima, a President Jimmy Carter appointee, found 3 of the 4 provisions of the law to be constitutional. Judge Tashima found that the teachers lacked standing and removed them as plaintiffs in the case.

The Court said that it “agrees with Defendant Superintendent’s latter argument. Even assuming that Plaintiff teachers could establish standing based solely on allegations of “subjective chill,” Plaintiff teachers have failed to demonstrate that they have a protected First Amendment right to speak within the classroom. Plaintiff teachers admit that they cannot control the curriculum at TUSD schools, but claim to have a First Amendment free speech right to speak within the curriculum previously approved by the TUSD Governing Board.”

The students remained as plaintiffs. Those students included the daughter of former Mexican American Studies director Sean Arce. Former MAS teacher and current director of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Instruction, Lorenzo Lopez’s daughter was removed from the case because she had graduated.

Lopez, known as one of the most radical MAS teachers was named director of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Instruction against the wishes of the African American plaintiffs in the District desegregation case and District Governing Board members Michael Hicks and Mark Stegeman.

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