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Federal court blocks Arizona ban on ethnic studies in public schools
Federal court blocks Arizona ban on ethnic studies in public schools

The US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] on Wednesday permanently enjoined [order, PDF] Arizona from enforcing its ban on ethnic studies in public schools within the state.

More specifically, the court blocked the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction (Superintendent) and the State Board of Education (State Board) [official websites] from enforcing §15-112 [text] of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which effectively forced the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) [official website] to shut down its Mexican American Studies (MAS) Program in 2012 or face a ten percent penalty on the state funding allocated to it.

In so doing, Judge A. Wallace Tashima declared:

The State of Arizona, acting through its Legislature and Governor, acted contrary to the First and Fourteenth Amendments [GPO backgrounders, PDFs] to the Constitution of the United States in enacting § 15-112. …pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a) [text, PDF], that because § 15-112 was enacted and enforced, not for a legitimate educational purpose, but for (i) an invidious discriminatory racial purpose, and (ii) a politically partisan purpose – to shut down the TUSD MAS Program – in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, § 15-112 cannot be enforced.

The court thus permanently enjoined the Superintendent and the State Board from, 1) requiring TUSD to prepare or file any reports regarding whether any program, curriculum or course is in compliance with § 15-112 or its objectives; 2) conducting any inspections or audits of any program, curriculum or course of the TUSD for the purpose of determining whether TUSD is in compliance with § 15-112 or its objectives; and 3) from withholding or authorizing the
withholding of, or threatening to withhold or authorize the withholding of, any state funds from TUSD for the latter’s failure or threatened or purported failure to comply with § 15-112.

Additionally, the court noted that the injunction applies to all 1) The Superintendent and the State Board, 2) successors and assigns of the Superintendent, the State Board, and members of the State Board; 3) any and all officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys of the Superintendent and the State Board, and 4) all other persons who are in active concert or participation with the three parties so described.

This injunction follows an August ruling [LA Times report] by Tashima wherein § 15-112 was held unconstitutional and racially motivated. The court said that the Superintendent and the State Board may move to dissolve this permanent injunction anytime after seven years from the entry of this order, and further ordered the state to pay the plaintiffs’ costs of the suit.