Civil Rights Group Says 9th Circuit Doesn't Have Jurisdiction In Tucson Desegregation Case

By Claire Caulfield
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 4:58pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 5:02pm

A Latino civil rights group says the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals doesn't have jurisdiction to dismiss a decades-long desegregation case.

In a court filing, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) said the Tucson Unified School District was wrong to ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to end court oversight of the district's desegregation plan. MALDEF said the district should have first "proven" to a lower court that all goals in the court-ordered plan had been met.

A group of Latino students first field a lawsuit against Tucson Unified in 1974. Four years later a court found there was intentional discrimination against Latino and African American Students.

In September 2018 a U.S. district judge said while Tucson Unified has been complying "in good faith" with the court-ordered plan, it had not met all of the requirements.

The judge said the school still disproportionately places first-year teachers at schools with a Latino majority and has not sufficiently diversified its staff. The court said the district has until September 2019 to meet remaining goals.

"While TUSD is disappointed that the Court did not grant full unitary status, and continues to believe that for many reasons termination of federal court intervention in local district operations is long overdue in this case, TUSD is committed to doing everything it can to complete the remaining tasks set out in the order as soon as possible," the district said in a statement at the time of the district court decision.

The school district then asked a 9th Circuit Judge to end court oversight, but MALDEF said in the Tuesday filing the 9th Circuit doesn't have jurisdiction to make that decision.

In an email to KJZZ, the district wrote, "Tucson Unified’s legal team is reviewing MALDEF’s motion and will be filing a response with the Court.”

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