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Audit of Tucson District's Ethnic Studies Is Delayed

The Arizona Department of Education won't issue a verdict on whether the Mexican-American studies program of the Tucson Unified School District complies with state law until at least mid-May, the Arizona Daily Star reported recently.

When he was the state's superintendent of public instruction, Tom Horne convinced the state legislature to pass a law that banned public schools from offering ethnic studies that are designed for a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity. The law went into effect on Dec. 31 and Horne took action on the matter in January just hours before he was expected to leave his post as state schools chief to become the state's attorney general. Horne claimed the Tucson district's ethnic-studies courses violated the new state law and gave the district 60 days to stop teaching the courses or lose 10 percent of its state funds.

Tucson Unified administrators appealed to John Huppenthal, a Republican who is now Arizona's schools chief, to continue offering the ethnic-studies courses, contending they doesn't violate the state's new law.

Huppenthal extended the deadline by 45 days so his office could conduct an audit of its own, and that extension has now expired. But according to the Arizona Daily Star, Huppenthal's office has told the Tucson district that the state's investigation of whether its Mexican-American studies program is in compliance with the law won't be finished until mid-May.

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