MANSFIELD -- The Mansfield school district will not be teaching Arabic after all.
The U.S. Education Department has rejected the district's revised timeline to implement an Arabic studies program, said Richie Escovedo, district spokesman.
"We are stopping all Arabic studies effective immediately," Escovedo said.
The district had planned to begin the program this semester at Cross Timbers Intermediate School, but officials delayed it after almost 200 parents showed up at a meeting to question the move. The program, funded by a five-year, $1.3 million federal Foreign Language Assistance Program grant, was then supposed to be integrated into the curriculum at Kenneth Davis and T.A. Howard middle schools in the fall and later be offered to Summit High School students.
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After weighing the parents' concerns, the district submitted an amended proposal in February that would have suspended teaching Arabic until the fall, using the rest of the current semester for planning. Under the new timeline, Arabic studies would have been offered beginning this fall at T.A. Howard Middle School as an exploratory class for seventh-graders and as a foreign language option for eighth-graders, who could have used it for high school credit. Howard eighth-graders could have also chosen Spanish.
The Mansfield district has already received $5,897.83 from the grant, Escovedo said. He said he does not know whether the district will have to refund the money.
The school district was notified Tuesday but released the news Friday afternoon in a statement on its website.
"It is clear to me that MISD and the Department of Education will be unable to agree on the specifics of this grant's implementation," Superintendent Bob Morrison said in the statement.
"It is my decision as superintendent that we accept the Department of Education's decision without appeal. We appreciate our local community's patience and honesty as we worked through this process. Thank you for your continued support of our schools."
The University of Texas at Austin, working with the Mansfield district, originally identified Cross Timbers as a target because 10 percent of the district's Arabic-speaking population attends the south Arlington school.
The district offers Chinese, Russian, Spanish, French, German and Latin. Students may begin taking language classes in middle school to fulfill their high school requirement of two years of foreign language.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451