For immediate release: January 12, 2024
Contact: [email protected]
Supt. Horne statement on today’s English Language Learner hearing
Court does not issue a timeline for decision
PHOENIX – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has issued his reaction to today’s Maricopa County Superior Court hearing on English Language Learner instruction.
Today’s Declaraty Judgement Action was brought by the defendants in a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Horne to require public schools to follow the voter-approved Arizona constitutional amendment that requires that “…all children in Arizona public schools shall be taught English by being taught in English, and all children shall be placed in English language classrooms.” Schools that do not follow this model are in violation of the law.
The defendants in this case include Governor Katie Hobbs, Attorney General Kris Mayes and ten Arizona school districts.
Horne stated, “My attorney, Dennis Wilienchik, did an excellent job in court. He demonstrated that the language of Proposition 203, the English immersion law that was overwhelmingly passed by voters, is clear. The actions of the Governor, Attorney General and ten school districts that are party to this lawsuit are in violation of that law by pursuing dual language programs, which Arizona voters overwhelmingly rejected. The lawsuit I have filed only seeks to have a declaration from the court of what the law states. There is no attempt to pursue any other legal remedy from anyone.
Conversely, if the Governor, Attorney General and the school districts persuade the judge in this matter to find in their favor, based on the technicalities that they asserted, the legal consequences for school district board members and superintendents are draconian.
The language of Proposition 203 allows for parents of public-school students in any Arizona district to sue any district – including other districts - in violation of this statute. If such a lawsuit is successful, the school board members and superintendent of a district found to be in violation of the law are removed from their positions and cannot run for any public office in education for five years. There are parents prepared to file such a suit, but I have asked them to wait for the decision of this court so that such a draconian penalty could be avoided.
What I cannot understand it why ten districts joined the Governor and Attorney General in urging a judge to dismiss this lawsuit on highly technical grounds. If that happens, board members and superintendents at districts violating Proposition 203 will be subject to those draconian consequences. By their position against my attempt to get clarification of the law, without any further consequences, they are seriously hurting themselves.”
The court did not suggest a timeframe for a decision.