tusd 010912 march spotlight

Photo: Fernanda Echavarri

TUSD high school students hold up signs in support of the program as they walk through downtown Tucson during a march.

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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.

tusd 010912 mom spotlight

Photo: Fernanda Echavarri

A parent of a child in TUSD speaks to the governing board. She passionately asks them to appeal the state's ruling and keep the program alive.

tusd 010912 audience spotlight

Photo: Fernanda Echavarri

Mayra Feliciano, a TUSD graduate speaks during the call of the audience portion of the meeting. She turns her back to the governing board because “they haven’t listened” and instead addresses the crowd at Tuesday’s meeting.

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.

tusd 010912 outside spotlight

Photo: Fernanda Echavarri

Protesters outside TUSD headquarters chant and shake up the barricades after hearing the votes to shut down the Mexican American Studies program.

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.

tusd 010912 sage spotlight

Photo: Fernanda Echavarri

Outside Tucson Unified School District headquarters, 1010 E. 10th St., a woman burns sage in the direction of the protesters as they arrive from the march.