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TUSD Board votes to not renew contract for Mexican American Studies director; insurrection erupts

Posted: Apr 10, 2012 9:51 PM MST

Updated: Apr 10, 2012 11:39 PM MST

The Tucson Unified School District Board voted Tuesday night to not renew contract for Mexican American Studies director. Follow the vote protestors lit smoke bombs in board room.

At 11:20pm Tuesday night after the vote, protestors moved to street as fights erupted with TUSD security.

Just before the vote demonstrators interrupted the board meeting by tying themselves together.

Protestors are angry that the district governing board has fired the former director of the outlawed Mexican American Studies Program.

Before the meeting Tuesday, outside of the TUSD headquarters a crowd gathered with 300 burritos.

Maria Teresa Mejia, a Tucson High School senior said, "We are here to show our support for Sean Arce who is being voted on his job and position today and also we are here to call out Michael Hicks for some of the issues he said on The Daily Show."

A segment on the national satirical news program included TUSD Board Member Michael Hicks saying teach built loyalty with students by giving them burritos.

"Nobody gave us burritos. That is false," Mejia said.

Former Mexican American Studies Teacher Curtis Acosta said, "Tonight is about the shame of that moment for our town and the shame of the district leadership as they take away one of its greatest educational leaders."

Mexican American Studies Director Sean Arce will likely not have his contract renewed by the TUSD board which voted earlier this year to comply with the state and immediately end the classes.

Arce said, "I spoke out in favor of defending the department, providing the best equitable education possible and that's why I really believe it's based on retaliation within the district."

Mark Stegeman said, "My policy is pretty consistent policy, it's not to comment personnel issues. I think that's a good policy for all board members and indeed former board members so it's obviously on the agenda and we'll see what happens."

Ten former board members signed a letter telling the current board the actions and comments of its members about Mexican American studies have further divided the community and they should move to positive matters.

But, students still want their classes back.

"I'm a fighter. I'm going to push through this. This is my education. They can't take that away. It's just hard," Mejia said.

Copyright 2012 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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