TUSD board postpones vote on ethnic studies issue

After a school board meeting that lasted for more than four hours, the Tucson Unified School District's governing board members voted to postpone voting on the controversial ethnic studies program, and announced they would hold public forums in the near future.

The decision came after chaos broke out at the meeting.

The crowd turned uncivil at Tuesday night's TUSD board meeting to discuss its ethnic studies program.

A call to the audience became an opportunity for audience members to confront the district board about its plans for the program. It grew raucous at times, with one man saying the board's actions were "disgraceful," and that he hoped the board members would "go to hell for it."

Many in the crowd yelled "shame on you" at the board members.

The board was forced to take a break when the crowd refused to relent and allow the meeting to continue after the 30 minutes allotted for audience comments had expired.

They later reconvened and eventually voted to delay action on the ethnic studies program until a public forum can be held.

Several people have been thrown out of the meeting, escorted by police.

Earlier reports:

When capacity in the room had been reached, the doors were locked and speakers were set up for the overflow crowd outside.

The meeting has been called to order. Security officials are standing in rows, as people chant "No vote."

KOLD's JD Wallace reports that the crowd outside TUSD is listening to the meeting from large speakers. The doors are locked, ID is required and a visitor checklist is in use.

The police blocking all doorways.

KOLD's Sonu Wasu reports that people in the crowd are demanding to know the racial breakdown of the students. The board's response:

  • 60.5 percent Hispanic
  • 5.7 percent African American
  • 25 percent white
  • 3.9 percent Native American
  • Rest mixed

Last Tuesday, students forced the cancellation of the meeting when they chained themselves to board members' chairs.

Board president Mark Stegeman promised that would not be repeated tonight. Security is tight and the meeting will be broadcast to the people who are unable to get inside.

Opponents are against a proposed plan to make the history and government portions of the Mexican-American Studies program elective courses.

The English and literature portions would remain as they are.

Stegeman's idea is to make changes now before the state forces the issue later this month.

That's when the Arizona Department of Education finishes looking into whether the M-A-S program violates a new state law, a statute Stegeman calls "terrible."

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