MAS protesters get personal; board member's grandmother brought to tears

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MAS protesters get personal; board member's grandmother brought to tears

CREATED Jul. 25, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - The Mexican-American studies controversy is growing more personal, after Tucson Unified School District board president Miguel Cuevas' grandmother was brought to tears.

It all happened Wednesday, when a group of MAS supporters called Tucson Freedom Summer sought to speak to Cuevas directly at his home, but got his grandmother instead.

According to Tucson Freedom Summer members, his grandmother was brought to tears to learn about Cuevas' role in dissolving the MAS program.  Cuevas, however, tells 9 On Your Side a different story.

"My grandmother was brought to tears because she was afraid of them," he said, "She was fearful."

The group has already brought their protests to the front yards of board members Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks.  Tuesday night's meeting also yielded strongly worded statements directed toward board members.

One person addressed Cuevas specifically, saying, "I don't even know what to say to you, man.  It's despicable, you're Mexican how can you do that?"

MAS supporters say their intentions are to start a dialog.

"They haven't created any spaces to be able to talk to us," said Tucson Freedom Summer member Jorge Rodriguez, "and so the only other option that they left for us is to be able to go out to their home."

But now, board members say the protesters are getting personal.

"It's okay for them to protest," said Cuevas, "but when they come to our home that is personal and at this point it's unacceptable especially when they come and have my grandparents in tears."

Cuevas and Stegeman sent out a public statement regarding Wednesday's interaction, saying in part:

"Mr. Cuevas and Dr. Stegeman agree that it is time to call for civility and are asking the community to support that effort.  “We are elected by the community, serve the community, and sometimes make hard decisions for the benefit of the community as a whole. Our work should not expose our homes and families to invasion and harassment.'"

Tucson Freedom Summer will continue their efforts to bring back the program with surveys, events and forums in the coming weeks.