Lawsuit Calls Ariz. Ethnic-Studies Ban Unconstitutional

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 21, 2010 1 min read
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Ten teachers and the director in the Mexican-American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District in Arizona filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this week challenging a law that targets ethnic studies in the state’s public schools. The lawsuit names Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and the 10 members of the state board of education as defendants.

I got a chance today to read the lawsuit for the first time. I’d visited Mexican-American studies classes at Tucson Unified and wrote a story about them last month.

The lawsuit challenges a state law that will go into effect in December that bans Arizona’s public schools from offering ethnic-studies courses that are designed for a particular ethnic or racial group, promote solidarity for a particular group, or foster resentment toward a particular group of people.

The teachers “believe that the act is the product of racial bias aimed specifically at Hispanics, is unlawful, results in impermissible deprivations of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit says. It contends the law violates the First and 14th amendments of the constitution, including equal protection and due process clauses. The lawsuit also says that Horne has no facts to establish that Tucson Unified has violated the state’s ethnic-studies law.

Horne didn’t respond to my request for comment today on the contents of the lawsuit.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.