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Court oversight in Tucson desegregation case to end

Federal court oversight of Tucson’s largest school district is soon to end following a decades-long court fight over discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities.

A judge ruled Monday that Tucson Unified School District has an effective plan to integrate its schools and provide Black and Latino students with equal access to educational opportunities.

Changes already implemented are “moving the needle in the right direction,” U.S. District Judge David C. Bury wrote in his order in a civil rights case. “It is time for the district to be released from judicial oversight and held accountable by the community.”

The case stemmed from two class-action lawsuits that were filed in 1974 and consolidated a year later. In 1978, the court found that discriminatory segregation existed in TUSD.

Bury said releasing the district from court oversight is contingent on the district taking several steps, including submitting a transition plan.

He also wrote that the changes to the district’s strategies and operations since 2013 “have eliminated the vestiges of segregation to the extent practicable over this period of time.”

“There is no reason to believe that the District will walk away now from this massive six-year undertaking,” he wrote.

The 45,000-student district said in a written statement that it was committed to the “culturally responsive and relevant instruction, equity and opportunity for all students” and will base its implementation plan on that commitment.

Sylvia Campoy, representative for the Latino plaintiffs in the case, told the Arizona Daily Star that monitoring is critical in contending with issues of race and inequity.

TUSD data indicates disparities among Black and Latino students in academic achievement as demonstrated in low test scores, low participation in advanced learning programs, a disparity of disciplinary action to African American students, and other critical areas, Campoy said.

The court rejected the plaintiffs’ requests that unitary status not be granted until the district had attained certain measures of equity in areas such as faculty diversity and narrowing the student achievement gap between white and Black and Latino students.

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