Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0109contempt09.html
Contempt ruling sought in
Jan. 9, 2004
Fines of $1,000 per day possible
A federal judge is being asked to find the state in contempt of court and to
impose daily fines in a decade-old case involving instruction for students
A motion being filed on behalf of plaintiffs who sued the state in 1992 said the
state has failed for 2 1/2 years to keep a promise made in 2000 to adopt rules
on qualification of teachers who instruct students learning English.
The motion asked District Judge Alfredo C. Marquez to enforce a 2000 agreement
between the state and the lawsuit plaintiffs, impose a $1,000 fine every day the
state is not in compliance and reimburse the plaintiffs' attorney fees.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said Thursday that the
Education Department is preparing rules to be submitted to the state Board of
Education in February.
The motion said the teacher-qualification rules are critical not only for the
educational success of the students involved but also to make sure that the true
costs of instructing English-learners are considered in an ongoing study.
"Despite numerous letters . . . urging compliance, it is now January 2004 and
there is still not even a proposal much less formal rules that determine such
qualifications," attorney Tim Hogan wrote for the plaintiffs.
The study, commissioned by the state as part of its attempts to resolve the
lawsuit, is due in August.
The Legislature contracted with the National Conference of State Legislatures in
2003 to conduct the study in hopes of determining what types of school programs
best help students learn English and at what cost to taxpayers.
The study will factor in not only the state's efforts to resolve the lawsuit but
also a law approved in 2000 that mandates that students be taught in English
after yearlong immersion programs to learn the language.
The Legislature ordered the study in December 2001 and approved an interim
doubling of state funding for English-learning instruction. Those steps were
responses to Marquez's January 2000 ruling that then-current programs were
inadequate to meet federal mandates on equal opportunities in education.
The study will consider class sizes, teacher qualifications and other
characteristics mentioned by Marquez in a 2000 order.
Only in November 2003, nearly three years after the deadline, did the state
adopt rules promised in 2000 to resolve other issues in the suit, the
plaintiff's motion stated.
It took years of prodding and threats of seeking court sanctions to accomplish
the other rules, Hogan said in explaining why the plaintiffs filed the contempt
motion, which he sent Wednesday for filing in Tucson.
Horne, who took office a year ago, said since then there has been a "very
orderly process" to propose rules on English-learning.
"We started right away with task forces. We've gotten input from different
people all across the state," he said.
Horne said he expects the teacher-qualification rules will have been proposed to
the Board of Education before Marquez considers the motion.