The 11th-grade Mexican-American studies classes include textbooks and other materials indicating white people were seen as "oppressors" of Latinos, Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal said, citing a state audit permitted under a new law.
The law, signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, bans classes from kindergarten to 12th grade that are deemed to promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, encourage resentment toward a race or class of people, designed primarily for a single ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity.
The Tucson schools' Web site "clearly indicates the program is primarily designed for pupils of a particular ethnic race -- couple this with the fact that an extraordinary percentage of students enrolled in program classes are Hispanic (over 90 percent)," the audit cited by The Arizona Republic alleged.
In addition, "Curriculum and materials repeatedly emphasize the importance of building Hispanic nationalism and unity in the face of assimilation and oppression," the audit alleged.
Tucson district Superintendent John Pedicone said: "Here's the reality: Out of 13,000 high-school students, 647 of them take these courses -- 555 were Hispanic and the rest were across the board."
School board President Mark Stegeman said the board would likely discuss the audit Friday. It may appeal the finding or consider other options, he said.
Eleven teachers and the Mexican-American Studies Department director declined to work with auditors for their report, citing legal advice.
They are suing the state, alleging the ethnic-studies law is unconstitutional.