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Ex-schools chief clarifies apology regarding ethnic studies

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — An ex-schools chief is not apologizing for comparing a Mexican American Studies program to the Ku Klux Klan and its teachers to skinheads.

Former Arizona School Superintendent John Huppenthal was questioned on his 2014 comments on the ethnic studies program previously at Tucson schools during the second day of a trial where prosecutors want to void a law that cancelled the program, The Arizona Daily Star reported.

Huppenthal gave a tearful public apology when he was linked to the comments he anonymously posted online, according to the report.

He clarified his apology during questioning on Tuesday and said he regretted not having a more “graceful” tone.

“I viewed it more as apologizing for the distraction,” he said.

The trial will determine whether state officials, including Huppenthal, had discriminatory or racist intent when they enacted a state law that led to the demise of the program in the Tucson Unified School District. Huppenthal was a former state senator who had a role in crafting the law.

He said he was against the program because he thought it used an oppressed-oppressor style that he believed could lead Mexican-Americans students to think that white people are oppressing them. He called the program “toxic.”

He denied having a racial or ethnic bias toward the program when he worked on the state law.

In a blog post from last week, Huppenthal called the trial “one of the most meaningless trials in history,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer Steve Reiss.

The first portion of the trial is scheduled to end Friday. The second week of the trial will continue in mid-July.

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