Teacher challenges admission policies
Arizona Daily Star
May 31, 2007


Calls those at Dodge Magnet School unfair
By George B. Sánchez
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/185477


A sixth-grade teacher has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice, requesting an investigation of admission policies at Dodge Middle Magnet School that he calls unfair.
Dean Keller, who teaches math at Dodge, 5831 E. Pima St., said he wants to end the practice of automatic enrollment for students from Bonillas Basic Curriculum Magnet School, 4757 E. Winsett Blvd.
"I would like to see entry into Dodge to be 100 percent lottery with no special entry for anybody," he said.
Bonillas students who choose to attend Dodge now are accepted through the Tucson Unified School District's Basic Curriculum Middle School program. Developed more than 20 years ago, the program ensures traditional education in a sequential track that leads students from Bonillas to Dodge and eventually to Catalina High Magnet School, 3645 E. Pima St.. School district officials recently have referred to this practice as a "pipeline program."
"Every parent in TUSD boundaries pays property taxes to support TUSD; therefore every student deserves the same chance to get into Dodge," Keller said.
His complaint also notes a section of the Basic Curriculum Middle School Plan that calls for the screening of black students. The plan, drafted in 1986 and submitted with Keller's complaint, says: "Black students will be screened and services provided for identified students as in other TUSD Schools."
Those students, according to the plan, would receive support under a program called "Black Alternatives To Standard English" that is listed alongside "English As a Second Language," a support program for English-language learners.
TUSD officials would not explain why or how black students are screened.
"Because it's a pending legal matter, we can't comment," TUSD spokeswoman Chyrl Hill Lander said.
Keller said no one discriminates against black students at Dodge, but he brought up the screening language to highlight his concern that the school plan is outdated.
It isn't the first time Keller has suggested the school plan needs to be changed.
The plan established a parent advisory committee to oversee school curriculum, but a state law also calls for a site council at every school. There are clashing opinions about which group should oversee the school and Keller has been at odds with the advisory committee.
Cynthia Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., said she couldn't comment on the complaint because she hadn't confirmed if it had been received.
Keller said he hand-delivered the complaint to TUSD officials Friday and mailed it to attorneys involved in TUSD's desegregation case.
"I've read it but I don't think it has anything to do with our lawsuit," said Rubin Salter Jr., attorney for the black plaintiffs in the decades-old desegregation case. "If it impacts (the desegregation case) I'll be on top of it."
Keller said he hopes TUSD officials will formally address his concerns before the beginning of the school year.
● Contact reporter George B. Sánchez at 573-4195 or at gsanchez@azstarnet.com.
Did You Know …
TUSD has been under a court order to desegregate since 1978.
The order followed a class-action lawsuit filed by Hispanic and black parents.
The district agreed to bus students across the city as well as establish magnet schools to racially integrate the district, by creating magnet schools with specific entrance criteria and prescribed ethnic balances, TUSD sought to entice some of its top students to leave their neighborhoods and further create integrated schools.