Nearly a year ago in January 2011 Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne declared that TUSD's Mexican American Studies Department was in violation of HB 2281. Arizona legislators passed the controversial law in May 2010 which was spearheaded by the now recalled Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce. HB 2281 specifically precludes courses which teach any of the following.
1. Promote the overthrow of the US Government.
2. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.
Horne says that the classes violate all four, but he is focusing on #3- that the classes are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group. The new Superintendent of Public Education John Huppenthal supports Horne's findings, even after a independent study commissioned by the Department of Education said that the classes were not in violation of the law..
TUSD maintains they are in compliance but stand to lose 10% of their budget if the classes continue.
In October 2010, eleven TUSD Mexican American Studies teachers filed suit in federal court saying that HB 2281 would violate their first and fourteenth amendment rights and that the law is vague. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for December 21 in front of Federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima, who spent time in an Arizona internment camp during World War II.
Speakers include Opata Elder Gustavo Gutierrez of Mesa, Arizona; Mexican American Studies Director Sean Arce, and Save Ethnic Studies Attorney Richard Martinez.