Fisher, et al v. Tucson Unified, et al

Filing 1939

ORDER, it is ordered that the Court adopts the Special Masters recommendation (Docs. 1933 , 1936 , 1937 ) and approves the addition of grades six through eight at Borman Elementary School. Signed by Senior Judge David C Bury on 6/6/2016. (SIB)

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1 2 3 4 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 7 8 Roy and Josie Fisher, et al., No. CV-74-00090-TUC-DCB Plaintiffs 9 10 and 11 United States of America, Plaintiff-Intervenor, 12 13 v. 14 Tucson Unified School District, et al., Defendants, 15 16 and 17 Sidney L. Sutton, et al., Defendants-Intervenors, 18 19 Maria Mendoza, et al., 20 No. CV-74-0204-TUC-DCB Plaintiffs, 21 and 22 United States of America, 23 24 25 26 Plaintiff-Intervenor, ORDER v. Tucson Unified School District, et al. Defendants. 27 28 NARA to add grades 6-8 at Borman K-5: Approved 1 In its Order regarding TUSD’s Notice and Request for Approval (NARA) to open 2 new middle schools and, correspondingly, move students from one school to another, this 3 Court called for a report on efforts taken, and which could be taken, at Roberts-Naylor K- 4 8 school to make it a more attractive sixth through eighth grade option for students 5 attending Borman K-5 school, which is located on the Davis Monthan Air Force Base 6 (DMAFB). TUSD has filed the Roberts-Naylor report, and the Special Master has filed a 7 Report and Recommendation (R&R). He recommends that this Court now approve the 8 addition of grades six through eight at the Borman K-5 school. There is no objection to 9 this recommendation from the Mendoza Plaintiffs or the United States Department of 10 Justice, but the Fisher Plaintiffs continue to object to this reconfiguration. 11 The Fisher Plaintiffs reiterate the Court’s past expressions of concern regarding 12 Roberts-Naylor, which has an approximately 90% minority student body and is a C 13 school, with the majority of the minority students being Black. In comparison, Borman 14 Elementary School serves a predominately Anglo student body and is an A school. 15 TUSD proposed adding the sixth through eighth grades at Borman to retain these students 16 rather than see them move to the on-base charter school, Sonoran Science Academy, or 17 move out of the district to parochial or charter schools, or the A-rated Vail School 18 District. The Court asked two questions: 1) whether any measures have been or could be 19 taken at Roberts-Naylor to transform it into a viable K-8 program capable of competing 20 with the middle schools now attracting the Borman students, and 2) explain why it is, or 21 is not, feasible to implement any such identified measures at Roberts-Naylor. Upon 22 further review of TUSD’s Roberts-Naylor report and the Special Master’s R&R, the 23 Court finds that Roberts-Naylor is not a viable option to adding grades six through eight 24 at Borman because the Borman school is on-base and students attending Borman want to 25 remain on-base. 26 First, it is important to note that 70 percent of the Borman Elementary Students 27 will transition to the on-base charter school, Sonoran Science Academy. This leaves 28 approximated 17 students in play. School year 2015-2016 reflects that of the 17 students -2- 1 that will not attend Sonoran Science Academy, one enrolled in Roberts-Naylor and two 2 enrolled in Alice-Vail, a TUSD school in equally-close proximity to the base as Roberts- 3 Naylor, and Alice-Vail is a B school, with a self-contained GATE program. (SM Supp 4 R&R (Doc. 1937) at n.1 (reflecting the transitions made in SY2015-16)). The proposed 5 improvements at Roberts-Naylor would make it the equal to Alice-Vail, but for the racial 6 concentrations at the two schools. Alice-Vail has an Anglo student population of 32%, 7 Hispanic students are 49.2% and Black students are 11.2%. (TUSD 2014-2015 Annual 8 Report, Entry Grade Enrollment by School for Last Three Years.) As explained by the 9 Special Master, there is a tipping point where students of one race will not choose schools 10 that have few or no students racially akin to themselves. He suggests the tipping point has 11 been breached at Roberts-Naylor where Anglo students are only one out of nine. (SM 12 R&R (Doc. 1937) at 5.)1 13 There is no reason to believe that if Alice-Vail cannot attract more than two 14 Borman students, a new and improved Roberts-Naylor school would succeed where 15 Alice-Vail has failed. Additionally to make Roberts-Naylor academically competitive 16 with Alice-Vail and the Sonoran Science Academy, it would require substantial 17 improvements in the quality of teaching which could not be accomplished without 18 significant financial incentives and would undermine teacher morale there and in other 19 schools in the District. Id. at 4. 20 Second, it is important to note that the addition of grades six through eight at 21 Borman will be financed by Arizona’s per-pupil funding allocation which follows these 22 students. Because 70% of the Borman students will move to the Sonoran Science 23 Academy without the Borman addition, the per-pupil dollars associated with them will 24 25 26 27 28 1 See also TUSD Roberts-Naylor report explaining that 20% of the student population are refugees from around the world, including the Congo Republic, Iraq, Syria, Bhutan, etc., and 34% of the student population is English Language Learners (ELL) with languages beyond English and Spanish, including Arabic, Somali, and Nepalese. Of course this diversity comes with attendant academic challenges, but it also has the unique potential to offer insights into an array of international cultures similar to advantages cleaned in student foreign exchange programs-- here, instead of abroad. Hence, Roberts-Naylor might someday see academic weakness become strengths. -3- 1 follow them to the Sonoran Science Academy and, therefore, are not available to make 2 improvements at Roberts-Naylor. If, however, the grades are added at Borman, these 3 students will be retained there and, corresponding, the per-pupil funding allocation for 4 them will flow to Borman to finance the addition of grades six through eight. 5 The Court finds that military families have a unique desire to have their children 6 attend on-base schools, which is related to safety concerns and on-base support resources. 7 (April 27, 2016 letter: Col. Rodger G. Schuld, USAF.) This reality is reflected in the 8 current choices being made by the majority of parents to send their children to the charter 9 on-base school instead of Alice-Vail. The Court is confident that improving Roberts- 10 Naylor to the same standing as Alice-Vail would not result in drawing Borman students 11 off-base. 12 Academy, including stripping away that charter-school’s per-pupil allocations for the 13 benefit of improving a TUSD school, Borman. Simply put, further study reflects that 14 because Roberts-Naylor is not on-base it is not a viable alternative. Adding middle-school grades at Borman will impact the Sonoran Science 15 Accordingly, 16 IT IS ORDERED that the Court adopts the Special Master’s recommendation 17 (Docs. 1933, 1936, 1937) and approves the addition of grades six through eight at 18 Borman Elementary School. 19 Dated this 6th day of June, 2016. 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -4-

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