Fisher, et al v. Tucson Unified, et al

Filing 1980

Ordered that the Reports and Recommendations addressing withdrawal of magnet status, 1956 , 1971 and 1974 are adopted by the Court. Signed by Senior Judge David C Bury on 12/22/2016. (SEE ATTACHED ORDER FOR COMPLETE DETAILS.)(BAR)

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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 Report and Recommendation Re: Withdrawal of Magnet Status- Approved 1 2 TUSD adopted the CMP, pursuant to the Unitary Status Plan (USP), on July 15, 2014, it filed its final Revised CMP on January 28, 2016. (Doc. 1898). 3 The Court adopts the recommendation of the Special Master and orders 4 withdrawal of magnet status from the following elementary schools, Ochoa, Robison, 5 Safford, and Utterback, and from the following high schools, Cholla and Pueblo. These 6 schools are racially concentrated, having more than 70 percent Latino students in the 7 entering classes of Kindergarten, Sixth or Ninth grades, respectively. 8 These withdrawals are pursuant to directives made by this Court on January 16, 9 2015, which provided for the development of Improvement Plans for these schools and 10 an opportunity for them to attain magnet status, pursuant to criteria measuring the ability 11 of the school to attract students from across the racial divides existing in the school 12 district and to additionally provide enriched programs for neighborhood students. (Order 13 (Doc. 1753) at 3.) The Court does not repeat here the relevant and important case 14 history, which requires a Comprehensive Magnet Plan (CMP) be the cornerstone of 15 Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) integration efforts required by the Unitary 16 Status Plan (USP). Id. at 2-5. For purposes of this Order, it suffices to say that it has 17 long been recognized, including the 2011 Magnet Study and the 2014 CMP, that existing 18 magnet programs and schools in TUSD need improvement or to be changed or 19 eliminated. Id. at 5. 20 The Court’s January 16, 2015, Order set a one year progress benchmark 21 assessment regarding two measures of success: integration with no more than 70 percent 22 of students being of a single race/ethnicity at the entry grade for the school and student 23 achievement measured reflected by either an A or B school rating. Thereafter, the 24 Special Master was charged with recommending the withdrawal of magnet status for 25 these schools by the fall semester SY 2015-2016. However, on November 19, 2015, the 26 Court agreed to allow the parties, pursuant to a stipulation, to extend their improvement 27 schedules for another year to SY 2016-2017 before the Special Master recommended 28 -2- 1 withdrawing magnet status. (Order (Doc. 1870)). The Special Master has now filed his 2 R&R regarding these recommendations. (R&R (Doc. 1974) (revised) (Doc. 1971)). 3 The schools the Special Master recommends be removed from the CMP failed to 4 meet the definition for a magnet school in January 2015 and November 2015. It is 5 undisputed that these six schools continue to NOT meet the integration goal for being a 6 magnet school. (TUSD Response (Doc. 1979)). There is no assertion that the academic 7 measures for these schools have improved.1 Both TUSD and the Mendoza Plaintiffs ask 8 for more time. The Court asks: if not now when? 9 The Court finds that the decreases in racial concentration noted by TUSD is slight, 10 and adopts the finding of the Special Master that “[t]here is no reasonable way to argue 11 that these six schools met the integration criteria set by the Court.” (R&R (Doc. 1974) at 12 3.) There is absolutely no evidence put before the Court to suggest that more time will 13 improve the ability of these six schools to operate like magnet schools to warrant 14 inclusion in the CMP. This is especially true given the Court’s prior directives in both 15 the January and November Orders issued in 2015 that TUSD must have an operational 16 CMP in place by SY 2016-2017. 17 The withdrawal of magnet status from these six schools cannot surprise any party 18 or the community. The tentativeness of their inclusion in the CMP has been evident in 19 the Court’s Orders addressing the CMP. In an abundance of caution when this Court 20 required Improvement Plans be developed for these schools, it also required TUSD to 21 develop Transition Plans for schools which did not then meet the integration 22 benchmarks.2 TUSD should immediately file the Transition Plans with the Court so that 23 the parties and the community are informed regarding the future planned at these schools, 24 and so that they may be fully funded in the SY 2017-2018 USP budget. 25 Master may file an R&R, which the Court will address on an expedited basis. The parties The Special 26 1 27 schools. 28 There is no discussion whatsoever of the academic achievements of any of these 2 The deadline for developing the Transition Plans was 6 months from the Court’s November 19, 1995, ruling. -3- 1 may weigh in regarding the sufficiency of the Transition Plans to meet the needs of the 2 students attending these schools, with the Special Master recommending an expedited 3 briefing schedule, if possible to resolve any disagreements over the Transition Plans so as 4 to not impede the SY 2017-2018 budget process. Alternatively, the Special Master may 5 propose a bifurcated schedule to identify the Transition Plans in part to the extent there 6 can be full funding under the SY 2017-2018 USP budget, with full briefing of objections 7 to follow. 8 The Court turns to the Mendoza Plaintiffs’ remaining areas of concern. The 9 Mendoza Plaintiffs accuse TUSD of undermining any potential for integration at these 10 schools by failing to hire enough permanent and experienced teachers there, failing to 11 address discipline problems at Safford and Utterback, and failing to reach out and engage 12 families. Additionally, the Mendoza Plaintiffs point out the success of the International 13 Baccalaureate (IB) Programme at Cholla High School and ask this Court to Order TUSD 14 to continue it and other effective programs after magnet status is withdrawn. The Court 15 shares the Mendoza Plaintiffs’ concerns and advises that the Transition Plans should 16 address them, with the exception of discipline problems at Safford and Utterback which 17 shall be expressly addressed by the Special Master in his 2015-2016 annual report or 18 separately by R&R. See Court’s Order approving 2016-2017 USP Budget. 19 Finally, to be clear, the Court reiterates that the withdrawal of magnet status from 20 these schools shall not have a negative impact on their students. The Mendoza Plaintiffs 21 are 100 percent correct: “[T]he failure of the subject schools to achieve the integration 22 criteria set forth in the USP should not relieve them (or the District) of on-going efforts to 23 increase integration at those schools particularly given that every one of them is reported 24 to be racially concentrated in the District’s most recent Annual Report. (2015-2016 25 Annual Report, Appendix II-4.) 26 enrollment at these schools by students whose presence would reduce the racial 27 concentration at these schools and should continue to advertise the possibility of The District should take steps to encourage open 28 -4- 1 qualifying for free incentive transportation under the USP.” 2 Response (Doc. 1978) at 11.) (Mendoza Plaintiffs’ 3 Accordingly, 4 IT IS ORDERED that the Reports and Recommendations addressing withdrawal 5 of magnet status, (Docs. 1956, 1971, and 1974) are adopted by the Court. 6 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that magnet status is withdrawn for Ochoa 7 Elementary School, Robison Elementary School, Safford K-6 School, Utterback 6-7 8 School, Cholla High School, and Pueblo High School. 9 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that within 21 days of the filing date of this Order, 10 TUSD shall file the Transition Plans for these schools with the Court, and all parties shall 11 move forward in a good faith effort to fully fund the Transition Plans in SY 2017-2018. 12 If necessary, the Special Master may file an R&R, which the Court will address on an 13 expedited basis, pursuant to a recommendation from the Special Master for briefing any 14 objections to the Transition Plans. 15 16 Dated this 22nd day of December, 2016. 17 18 19 Honorable David C. Bury United States District Judge 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -5-

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