Funding News

Douglas: Funds not withheld, but Tucson Unified's ethnic studies monitored for rest of year

Douglas: Funds not withheld, but Tucson Unified's ethnic studies monitored for rest of year

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas announced that the Arizona Department of Education will not withhold state funding from  Tucson Unified School District over its ethnic studies today, but the department will monitor the district for the rest of the school year.

Tucson Unified’s 60-day period to correct ARS §15-112 violation expires on March 4, 2015.

douglassanchezhp3According to the Associated Press, Tucson Unified will not lose funding over its ethnic studies courses because they don’t actually violate a state ban, Douglas said Tuesday.

“Given TUSD’s cooperation with the monitoring process and evidence of their attempts to improve compliance with the statute, it is in the best interest of the district’s students to move forward without denying any state aid,” Douglas said in a press release. “I look forward to continuing our work with Superintendent H.T. Sanchez to ensure such a measure does not become necessary in the future and commend him on his efforts over the last two months.”

Last week in Arizona Public Media, Tucson Unified Superintendent said he has done everything the state required.

“We spent time tweaking some of the instructional delivery and had conversations on how to really tighten it up to align with the district curriculum,” Sanchez said to Arizona Public Media. “There were some places where it wasn’t to tightly aligned. We’ve gone to the level of collaboration that we needed to, so I’m hopeful.”

On his last day in office, former Superintendent John Huppenthal sent a letter to the Tucson district saying it is in violation of the law that prohibits schools from promoting overthrow of the government or a race-based agenda, in a story in The Arizona Republic.

Douglas and Sanchez met to discuss the issue in early January. Tucson Unified could have lost up to 10 percent of its state funding, or 14.2 million  dollars for the district, if Douglas determined the classes still violate state law.

Douglas said the Arizona Department of Education concluded that the district-approved curricula do not violate statute, however, the department remains concerned that some teachers are not following the curricula.

As part of its monitoring process, the department reviewed the district’s curricula and classroom materials for culturally relevant ethnic studies including a list of approved reading materials and its policy regarding the use of enrichment materials unapproved by the district’s board. The department also conducted announced and unannounced visits to individual classrooms.

The department also considered the district’s past failures to maintain adherence to the curricula in its decision to continue its monitoring, Douglas said.

“Together we were able to avoid a costly loss of funding and I remain committed to improving culturally relevant classroom instruction so that in the future monitoring will no longer be required,” Sanchez said.