Gov. Jan Brewer
and Attorney General Terry Goddard are at odds over how involved Goddard's
office should be in a divisive education case currently pending in the U.S.
The long-running case, known as Flores vs. Arizona, could help determine
how much money Arizona public schools must spend on students who enter the
classroom without a strong understanding of the English language.
On one side of the dispute is state schools Superintendent Tom Horne and
Republican legislative leaders, who say that Arizona's Legislature has already
passed a law giving students sufficient money to help children learn English,
and that any further demands by a federal court would constitute meddling in
is Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest.
A year ago, Hogan convinced the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the state
had failed to comply with a 2000 federal district court order requiring it to
adequately fund a language program.
The decision meant the state faced the threat of fines up to $2 million a day.
State lawmakers responded to the Appeal's Court ruling by passing a law that
gave schools about $40 million to improve language learning.
Hogan and schools, most of whom are at odds with Horne on the issue, said that
level of funding was woefully inadequate.
When Hogan continued to pursue the case, Horne and lawmakers hired their own
attorneys to seek a Supreme Court decision.
In a March 11 letter, Brewer, a Republican, instructed Attorney General Terry
Goddard, a Democrat, to lend his support to the private lawyers hired by Horne
and the Republican legislative leaders.
Goddard, who has previously argued against asking the Supreme Court to step into
the case, declined this week to comply with Brewer's request.
In a letter dated Monday, the attorney general said that it was his job, not
Brewer's job, to direct the legal decisions for the state, and that his clients
are Arizona and the State Board of Education, rather than Brewer, Horne or the
Republican lawmakers. A Supreme Court decision is expected in June.