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TUSD post-desegregation proposal includes ‘first- choice’ schools

What could be a final step in getting Tucson Unified School District released from a three-decades-old desegregation court order was approved by the board Tuesday.

The TUSD Post-Unitary Status Plan was authorized for submission to U.S. District Judge David Bury by a 4-1 vote, with clerk of the board Mark Stegeman saying he had questions about the plan that should be addressed, “although overall I like it very much.”

Highlights of the plan include:

• The development of “first- choice” schools to encourage voluntary movement of children.

• Transportation, previously not offered when parents elected to send their children to other schools, would be offered.

• The hiring of a recruiter to search for more highly qualified “teachers of color.”

• The development of strategies so there will be equal opportunities for all children to get into advanced classes and programs such as Gifted and Talented Education (GATE), Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.

• The development of plans to eliminate disparities in suspensions, which historically involve high percentages of minorities.

Stegeman, explaining why he voted against the plan, said he hadn’t gotten responses from the staff on what could become “perverse incentives” to treat students unfairly. He said schools could end up driving students in majority populations away in an effort to try to attract others.

Member Adelita Grijalva, whose father, now U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, was part of the plaintiffs’ group calling for desegregation and later was on the board as it was begun, said she was proud the plan was going forward.

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