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Horne files lawsuit on dual language programs. Hobbs, Mayes ask for case dismissal

Published: Friday, January 12, 2024 - 4:04pm
Updated: Friday, January 12, 2024 - 5:20pm
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For months, some Arizona parents and educators have said the state superintendent does not have the authority to force districts to educate their non-English-speaking students in English-only.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge could soon make that determination.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne says public schools that use the “50-50” dual language model violate state law and risk losing state funding. His attorney, Dennis Wilenchik argued the same point at a hearing Friday.

“The dual language programs implemented by the districts have half the day in English and half in another language," Wilenchik said. "This flies in the face of the statutes that were adopted pursuant to the proposition.”

He’s referring to Proposition 203. The measure, passed by voters in 2000, requires ELL students to be taught only in English. Horne filed a lawsuit to require public schools to follow that. 

The defendants, Gov. Katie Hobbs, Attorney General Kris Mayes and 10 Arizona school districts have asked the judge to dismiss the case.

Nathan Arrowsmith represents Attorney General Mayes. 

"Elected officials can't just come to court ask the court to opine on what the law is because they subjectively believe it's unconstitutional or because they believe somebody else is violating the law," Arrowsmith said. "They have to have rights, status, legal relations, a legally protected interest in the controversy. The superintendent has none."

The court has not given a timeframe for the decision.

Politics Education