Groups representing black and Latino plaintiffs reached an agreement with the Tucson Unified School District that could resolve a 1974 lawsuit over racial segregation in the public schools in southern Arizona, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said Monday.

The proposal aims to increase racially and ethnically integrated schools, improve magnet schools and programs to promote integration and educational quality and enhance the racial and ethnic diversity of TUSD's administrators, teachers and staff, among other goals.

If approved, the plan would also reinstitute courses on Mexican-American history and culture that the TUSD eliminated earlier this year under pressure from the state government, MALDEF Western Regional Counsel Nancy Ramirez said.

"The restoration and expansion of literature and social studies courses that focus on Mexican American experiences recognizes the important role these courses play in engaging students and improving their academic achievement and graduation rates and is a critical strategy for closing the achievement gap for Latino students," she said.

The TUSD, the largest school district in southern Arizona, has a student population that is 60 percent Hispanic.

As part of the legal process to approve the plan announced Monday three community forums will be held so that parents can express their opinions about this proposal.

On Dec. 10, the comments received about the program will be presented in federal court and four days later authorities must respond to the objections presented to the plan.

Sylvia Campoy, a teacher and one of the plaintiffs, said at the same press conference that she has high hopes that this proposal will transform the TUSD into a school district that is "open to the community and responsible for its actions."

The lawsuit was filed in May 1974 by the NAACP. Five months later, a group of Hispanics presented a similar suit. EFE