District faces complaint
Paradise Valley accused of bias in use of English
By Kirsten Sorenson
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 1, 2002
NORTHEAST PHOENIX - A national task force is filing a civil rights complaint
against the Paradise Valley Unified School District, alleging that the district
discriminates against parents and students with limited English skills.
The complaint comes as Arizona voters are deciding whether to elect School Board
President Tom Horne as state superintendent of public instruction on Tuesday.
Horne characterizes the charges as "completely false" and calls it a political
"It's a dirty tactic to send out a press release just before the election,"
Kathy Poulos-Minott, a spokeswoman for the National Limited English Proficiency
Advocacy Task Force, thinks the issue should be factored into the election.
"I think it's very important that the public is aware of the pervasive
discrimination in the district and that Tom Horne is the primary influence of
these practices," she said.
The complaint alleges that the district does not provide qualified
interpretation and translation.
"Many parents are denied equitable participation in school programs and
activities, including bilingual education," said Poulos-Minott of the Portland,
Maine,-based, task force.
Horne said the district provides translation services at board meetings.
"Whenever an individuals needs translation, we do it," Horne said.
Calling the allegations "untrue and politically motivated," district spokeswoman
Judy DeWalt said the district will consider taking legal action against the task
The complaint will be filed with the U. S. departments of Justice, Education,
Agriculture, and Health and Human Services offices for civil rights,
Poulos-Minott said. It will ask the district to provide better interpretation
and translation services. The Paradise Valley district has recently come under
fire for its decision to change a program at Palomino Elementary School.
Children who spoke some English used to be eligible for the program, but the
district now requires that the children be fluent.
A number of parents with limited English skills have complained that they've
been ignored at board meetings.
The task force has recently resolved a similar complaint against the Tucson
Unified School District and that school district has to improve its bilingual