May 11, 2013 8:48 PM by Erika Flores

Discrimination complaints against TUSD

TUCSON-TUSD has reached a voluntary agreement to review its procedures to make sure it doesn't discriminate against minorities.

An organization called Civil Rights Center filed a complaint against the district saying it unfairly discriminated against Latinos.

Two out of three complaints against TUSD have been resolved, but the Civil Rights Center says their work here has just begun.

It all started with the Mexican American Studies debate.
After hearing from TUSD students and seeing coverage of district board meetings, the Civil Rights Center decided to get involved.

"I said you know we need to go make a difference. We're going to make a difference or we're going to set a record filing federal complaints," said Silverio Garcia, executive director of Civil Rights Center.

They filed three complaints against TUSD to the United States Department of Education for Civil Rights.

The center claims TUSD discriminated against minorities during their board meetings by selecting a meeting room that does not accommodate everyone interested in attending.

The center has not received a response for that complaint.

Another complaint claims the district does not provide school-related information on its Tucson High Magnet School, Cholla and Pueblo Magnet High Schools' websites to limited English proficient parents.

"Whenever there is federal funding, we're all the same. You're not allowed to intimidate," said Garcia.

In response, the district submitted documentation showing its changes to each of the websites providing links to interpreter and translator support services.

Another complaint claims discrimination after TUSD placed restrictions on Cesar Chavez Day celebration.

In response to that complaint, TUSD's superintendent John Pedicone signed an agreement to review and update its procedures to ensure the district doesn't discriminate in how it responds to holding events on district property.

"The district isn't admitting any guilt, but we are setting in some procedures that will hopefully make everyone comfortable that we're treating everyone equally," said Mark Stegeman, TUSD board member.

Stegeman said he does not believe the district had any intention of targeting minorities in any of these scenarios.

The Civil Rights Center will have training sessions this summer for students and the community to become aware of their civil rights and federal law.


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