The Tucson Unified School District voted 4-1 Tuesday to end its Mexican American Studies program. The decision means the district will avoid losing millions of dollars of state funding for being out of compliance with state law.
The vote to end the program came after State Superintendent John Huppenthal upheld an administrative law judge's decision that the program violates state law.
TUSD Board Member Adelita Grijalva was the only no vote.
"So in this district we will be able to have African American, Native American, Japanese American, any other ethnicity we will have all that literature but we will not be able to show A Chicano History in Pictures we will not be able to have 100 Years of Chicano History as a book," Grijalva said.
Protesters filled the board room and listened to the meeting on speakers outside the building.
Board members who voted to end the program said they were swayed by the threat of loosing up to $15 million in state aid for being out of compliance with state law.
Miguel Cuevas, who had previously supported the program, said that while he “may not agree with the law or the rulings, I have sworn to obey by them,” and the cost of litigation and penalties if the program continued was too high.
Many people in the crowd stood up before Cuevas finished reading his statement, some walked out of the board room yelling “cowards!” which prompted board president Mark Stegeman to call for a short break before the final vote.
Hundreds outside chanted “We will not comply!” while holding their fists in the air, some shook the barricades and a protester pounded his fists on a window until security stopped him.
Cesar Bracamonte, 16, is enrolled in American History Through Hispanic Perspective at Tucson Magnet High School. He said the idea of not going to that class again saddens him.
“Honestly I haven’t read one book, one article that promotes solidarity for one race, like they say,” Bracamonte said. “If anything I’ve learned the opposite that nobody is greater than anyone, we are all part of the human race and human history.”
He, like most of the students at the meeting, said the plan is to continue reading the material and learn about Mexican American Studies subject inside or outside a classroom.