TUSD puts efforts to teach immigrant teens at Southwest Key on hold

TUSD puts efforts to teach immigrant teens at Southwest Key on hold
The Southwest Key facility on Oracle Road. Source: Tucson News Now.

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Plans for teachers from the Tucson Unified School District to educate immigrant children being housed at a local facility have been put on hold.

Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo updated the the Governing Board Tuesday, Jan. 15 about the continuing discussions regarding the potential proposal of memorandum of understanding that would designate TUSD as the sole educational provider for children at Southwest Key.

“At this particular time, I will not be bringing forth a memorandum of understanding as Southwest Key continues to face numerous challenges on a national level, with a potential federal investigation for its fiscal diligence and possible mismanagement of federal funding,” Trujillo said.

“They’ve also got some local challenges with regards in compliance with the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services with regard to the licensure of their staff members,” said Trujillo.

Trujillo began conversations with Southwest Key officials in July after requests from board members and the community. The following month, the superintendent said both the district and the facility wished for TUSD to be the sole educational provider, but the decision was out of their hands.

While the Office of Refuge Resettlement never released how many children were being housed at the local Southwest Key, Tucson News Now learned there were up to 300 children living at the facility off Oracle Road at any given time.

In August, Trujillo said there were currently no preschool or elementary-aged students being housed at the facility, only teens at the ninth-grade level or older.

According to the Office of Refuge Resettlement, educational services are based on the individual academic level of each child at the facility. Each child must receive at least six hours of structured education in basic academic areas per weekday.

It would be up to the Office of Refuge Resettlement and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to determine if they would like to move forward with TUSD’s services.

Trujillo said the district has been encouraging in discussions with Southwest Key leadership to give them time to do its due diligence to get through problems.

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