Last week on June 14th, 2018, TUSD Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo was on the Bill Buckmaster Show and was asked why TUSD is filing to dismiss the Latino Plaintiffs (Mendoza) from the over four-decades-old Desegregation Case. A short audio excerpt from the show is included below.
Trujillo responds that this is not true, but rather TUSD “has complied with ALL provisions of the Unitary Status Plan [aka “Deseg Order”] as it pertains to the Mexican American student portion.”
Trujillo goes on to say that this is “a radically different statement than saying ‘get rid of the plaintiff representative.’” Trujillo also goes on to agree with TUSD Board President Mark Stegeman’s claim that TUSD will be off of this Deseg Order within 4 years and explains how this will occur; that audio excerpt is also included in the video above for your convenience.
For those who are not well-versed in Deseg Order, the superintendent is basically claiming that all schools are for the most part “equal” anywhere in TUSD and, as one example, that Sabino parents can send their children to Pueblo and the students will receive the exact same quality of education. (We won’t get into the “more equal” education that students at University HS receive here.)
We asked Sylvia Campoy, the Plaintiff Representative for the Latino Plaintiffs, about Trujillo’s comments last week. On May 3rd, 2018, we posted a letter from Sylvia Campoy which includes the court filing regarding the claim that TUSD, in her own words:
According to TUSD’s new legal position, the Mendoza Plaintiffs have not had legal standing in the desegregation case since the Court issued its 1978 court order and its 1978 Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
Campoy’s response to Trujillo’s radio statements, which included that this is “a radically different statement than saying ‘get rid of the plaintiff representative,’” is below.
On April 11, 2018, TUSD filed a legal brief with the US District Court opposing various parts of the Special Master’s Annual Report.
Included in the District’s objections, within the legal brief, it included the following language: “The District thus objects to the Special Master’s Report and Recommendation to the extent it does not recommend immediate termination of court supervision in CV 74-204 (the Mendoza case), on the grounds that, since Judge Frey expressly found that the District has never operated a dual school system with respect to Hispanic students, the Green factors and the requirement of good faith compliance with a comprehensive decree do not apply in this case.
Since it is undisputed that the specific conduct that Judge Frey found to be discriminatory with respect to Hispanic students is no longer occurring, and has not occurred for decades, that all that is required, and the decree, and supervision, in that case, should be terminated.” ” The legal brief also states, “ … the District is entitled to entry of judgment terminating supervision in the Mendoza case …”
TUSD must be aware that the Court may agree/accept/sustain any or all of its objections listed within its April 11th legal brief, as it may also disagree/reject/deny/ with any or all of its objections. Yet, Superintendent Trujillo’s response to concerns raised by community members on TUSD’s articulated position pertaining to the Mendoza case, claims that this is “one of those miscommunications” and that it is an “inaccurate perception.” He states that ‘at no time did TUSD file a formal motion to remove the Mendoza Plaintiffs from the case. He states that ‘at no time did the Board take action to remove the Mendoza Plaintiffs and no recommendation was made to the Board to remove them.’
Further, he states that the District does have the opinion that the District has complied with all portions of the court order that pertain to the Mexican American class of students. Certainly, the District has the option of filing a motion to dismiss the Mendoza case but the fact remains that the Court is able to rule on what the District has already filed within its legal brief of April 11, 2018. The position of the District as stated in the filing is offensive but it is also insulting for the District to attempt to walk-back its actions through the use of legal doublespeak.
In its legal brief, it is abundantly clear through the District’s own language that it objects to the Special Master’s Report and Recommendation “to the extent that it does not recommend immediate and complete termination of court supervision in CV 74-204 (the Mendoza case), on the grounds that, since Judge Frey expressly found that the District had never operated a dual school system with respect to Hispanic students, the Green factors and the requirement of good faith compliance with a comprehensive decree do not apply in that case. Since it is undisputed that the specific conduct that Judge Frey found to be discriminatory with respect to Hispanic students is no longer occurring, and has not occurred for decades, that is all that is required, and the decree, and supervision, in that case, should be terminated.”
All of the above quotes attributed to TUSD’s language in the April 11th TUSD legal brief boil down to the District’s position that the Mendoza Plaintiffs do not have standing in the case and have not had standing in the case “…for decades.” Regardless of the District’s efforts to walk its legal position back, the toothpaste is all out of the tube and it is not as easily squeezed back in as it was squeezed out. Beyond the fact that the District’s position is not legally sound, the District’s position opens it up for a great deal of questions, beginning with: If the Mendoza Plaintiffs have not had legal standing for decades, as referenced in the April 11th legal brief; why has the District continued to accept desegregation funding (and grant funding) to correct problems which have not, according to TUSD, existed for decades? Why did the District stipulate to a settlement agreement/consent decree in 2013 with the Mendoza Plaintiffs if it did not hold the legal position that the Plaintiffs had legal standing then, since this was not decades ago but merely five years ago?
Why has the Special Master and his team of USP monitors found that the District has not yet obtained unitary status in several areas of the USP, suggesting that such areas remain non-compliant? Most importantly, why have the US Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals both repeatedly noted lack of good faith effort on behalf of TUSD in complying with its desegregation court order in court orders issued within the current and previous decade and NOT several decades ago?
For more information about this issue, please attend the following forum held this Thursday, June 21st, 2018 by CARE, a TUSD watchdog group. Information is below.