Horne Sues Governor, Attorney General Seeks Declaration That Schools Obey Voter Protected English Instruction Method

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has filed a lawsuit against Governor Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes for a judicial declaration that all schools must obey a voter passed and protected initiative that English language learners must be taught in English immersion rather than dual language.

The initiative, which passed by a margin of over 60%, states explicitly: “All children in Arizona public schools should be taught English by being taught in English, and all children shall be placed in English language classrooms”.

Horne stated, “Governor Hobbs is named as a defendant because of a court of appeals decision stating that the governor is a proper defendant in these kinds of cases because of the constitutional requirement that she see it to it that the laws are faithfully executed. Attorney General Mayes is named because the same case states that an action questioning the constitutionality of a law names the Attorney General. A law passed by the legislature in 2019 has been interpreted by some as authorizing dual language instruction. This is incorrect because the voter-protection law is part of the Arizona Constitution and any change to a voter-protected initiative must further the purpose of what voters intended. Dual language instruction is the opposite of the initiative’s purpose.”

He added, “The fundamental purpose of the initiative is that students be taught throughout the school day in English, so they become proficient in English quickly, and can succeed academically, and not that they be taught half a day in another language, which would stunt their ability to master English.”

The lawsuit also names as a defendant the Creighton school district, which is among the handful of districts defying the law established by the voter approved and protected initiative. The district’s rate of English Language Learners becoming proficient in English last year was 5.1%. This contrasts with some districts referred to in the complaint that have structured English immersion and who’s rates range from 23.87% to 33.03%.