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State must fund ELL programs by March

A federal court has ordered the state to fund recently approved English instruction models by March 4 or face sanctions in a long-running lawsuit challenging Arizona’s English education system.

But legislative leaders say the issue hasn’t been resolved to their satisfaction.

“We intend…to give the court notice we’ll be appealing this order,” House Majority Leader Tom Boone, R-4, said hours after the ruling was released Oct. 11.

Despite the appeal, Boone said lawmakers will “make every effort” to comply with the order.

If the Legislature does not meet the March 4 deadline, public interest attorney Tim Hogan says he will return to court to seek fines and force lawmakers to act by the end of the legislative session.

Boone also indicated legislative leaders will seek an injunction against the order, as they have in the past, to prevent the state from being fined before a higher court can rule on the appeal.

Democrat lawmakers praised the ruling. In a written statement, House Minority Leader Phil Lopes, D-27, said his caucus has “had enough” with the inability of Republicans to solve the problem.

“Democrats have said from day one that this case is about kids, but the Legislature’s intractable leadership has done nothing but add more attorneys and more expense instead of working in good faith to fix the problem,” he said.

Another appeal in the Flores case is already scheduled for oral arguments Dec. 4 in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. That appeal centers around an earlier ruling by the lower court that two provisions in a state law aimed at bringing the state into compliance with the lawsuit violate federal law. Boone says he hopes to combine the two appeals into one hearing.


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