Judge blocks ban on ethnic studies in Tucson school district

Updated: Dec. 28, 2017 at 4:10 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (AP) - A federal judge has issued a final judgment, blocking an Arizona state law that prompted the dismantling of a Mexican-American history program in Tucson's largest school district.

Judge Wallace Tashima in a ruling issued Wednesday declared the law unconstitutional, effectively blocking state education officials from restricting ethnic studies programs in the Tucson Unified School District.

READ MORE: Mexican American studies may be coming back to TUSD schools

The state passed a law in 2010 banning the studies program and instituting a $15 million fine if the district did not shut it down.

The district did but the case, brought by parents and teachers, has been winding its way through the courts.

In August 2017, Tashima had ruled the law violated the First and 14th Amendments, but did not ruled on an "appropriate remedy."

The law banning Mexican-American studies was proposed by then Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who ruled a year after it was passed that the district was in violation of the law.

Rather than risk the state fines, which would have amounted to 10 percent of the district budget annually, the district shut it down.

The district was not party to the lawsuit and neither was current Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Democratic Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales of Tucson was among those praising the ruling. She said it affirms that the law passed in 2010 was motivated by racial discrimination.

Attorneys for the state have denied that racial discrimination played a part in the law.

The TUSD attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment. It remains unclear what changes the school board might make as a result of the ruling.

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