Pedicone defends TUSD's firing of MAS director
Tucson Unified School District Superintendent John Pedicone said the Governing Board's decision to fire Mexican American Studies program director Sean Arce on Tuesday night was necessary for the program and district to move forward.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Pedicone defended the board's decision.
"Last night’s TUSD Governing Board meeting was a difficult one for all involved," he said in the statement. "The decision to not renew Sean Arce’s contract was unfortunate because his skills are very valuable in working with students."
The board split on deciding to not renew Arce's contract, with members Adelita Grijalva and Alexander Sugiyama dissenting.
The contentious issue of Arce and the MAS program drew chanting protesters and a smoke bomb to the board's meeting at the district's headquarters.
"TUSD School Safety officers appropriately responded to and handled the incident," Pedicone said.
MAS courses were eliminated in January, when TUSD dropped the program after it was effectively banned under a state law.
Arce maintains his firing is retribution for his being outspoken in pushing the board to keep the program. He admits to being disciplined several times, but said his run-ins with TUSD administrators were the result of his not being willing to cooperate with them in ending the program.
"The Mexican American Studies Department continues to be an organizational contributor to TUSD’s commitment to greater academic and social equity for Hispanic students," Pedicone said in the statement Wednesday.
"The development of both a curriculum and the staff to support that work is of the highest priority. That work has begun and will result in what we believe is a powerful approach to student success," he said.