Seven people ranging in age from 19 to 69 were arrested Tuesday night during the TUSD Governing Board meeting on proposed changes to ethnic studies.
An overflow crowd showed up for the discussion of the district's Mexican-American Studies and whether some of the courses should be turned into electives.
All of those arrested were cited on a misdemeanor charge of third-degree criminal trespassing and released. They will have to appear in City Court.
The Tucson Police Department was on hand at the request of the Tucson Unified School District. About 100 TPD personnel were available in the general area of district headquarters at 1010 E. 10th Street. But only 40 to 50 were actively used at any given time, police said. Those arrested were identified as: Brook Bernini, 32; Guadalupe Castillo, 69; Maria Galup, 33; Amy Meller, 19; Wesley Narro-Castro, 21; Katerina Sinclair, 35; and Ann Yellott, 67.
Sinclair was the first to be arrested after she tried to address the board after the call-to-the audience portion had ended. Sinclair refused requests to leave and was led out of the room by police. Sinclair is the mother of a TUSD ninth-grader. She intended to speak in support of the program.
Sinclair said she doesn't believe that integrating Mexican-American history and culture into a traditional course will work.
"As a mother of a TUSD student, I have the right to say what I think about my daughter's education," she said. "To arrest a parent for speaking at a public school board meeting is not viable."
Sinclair went on to say that she wouldn't have defied the board had it said from the start that the vote would be postponed and that there would be the opportunity for more community dialogue at a future forum.
While TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone mentioned the possibility of a community forum in the future, it wasn't until four hours into the meeting that the board decided to go forward with his proposal.
Information was not available Wednesday on when the TUSD forum might be held.
The organization Save Ethnic Studies delivered a letter to Pedicone Wednesday suggesting that it co-sponsor the forum with the district. In addition to jointly sponsoring the event, the group would like to be part of the planning and identifying of a neutral moderator, site and format.
Pedicone wasn't available to comment on whether he would consider that.
According to the group, Save Ethnic Studies members are educators, students and community residents who support educational programs, policies and legislation that promote cultural awareness and diversity.
The 11 TUSD Mexican-American Studies educators who are currently challenging the constitutionality of the state law aimed at ethnic studies - formerly HB 2281 - are part of the Save Ethnic Studies organization.
Police chief says officers handled meeting well / A8
Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at email@example.com or 573-4175.