Judge refuses to delay English-learner trial
Jan. 5, 2007
A federal judge on Friday refused to delay a scheduled trial in a nearly
15-year-old political and legal dispute over adequacy of Arizona school programs
for students learning the English language.
Lawyers for class-action plaintiffs, the state, Republican legislative leaders
and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne participated in a court
hearing in Tucson before U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins.
The legislative leaders and Horne had asked Collins to postpone the trial
scheduled to begin Tuesday. They said they need more time to prepare because
Collins had ruled in late December that the plaintiffs could present evidence on
circumstances in numerous school districts, not just Nogales Unified. Nogales
students and parents were the original plaintiffs in the
Lawyers for the legislative leaders and Horne did not immediately return calls
for comment Friday, but attorneys for the plaintiffs and the Attorney General's
Office said Collins indicated that will the four-day trial would begin as
Collins imposed fines that reached $21 million against the state last year
before the Legislature approved a law to overhaul English Language Learning
Collins later ruled the law didn't comply with federal law and a 2000 ruling by
another judge, but an appellate court overturned his ruling and said Collins
must consider whether the ELL programs are adequate under current circumstances.