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Arizona Attorney General strikes down Superintendent Horne’s dual language ban

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(The Center Square)— Attorney General Kris Mayes announced Monday that the Arizona Department of Education cannot stop funding schools because of their choice to teach English language learners with dual language programs.

“Only those school districts and charter schools found by the Board to be noncompliant are barred from receiving monies from the English language learner fund,” Mayes wrote in her opinion.

Democrat lawmakers asked for Mayes to issue an opinion in order to determine whether or not DOE has the power to stop funding ELL programs that follow the model, which was approved by the state Board of Education in 2020.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne was seeking to end the 50/50 dual language immersion model, in which students are taught in both English and another language, usually Spanish. Horne argues that it violates Proposition 203, which was a ballot initiative that set guidelines on how to teach students who did not speak English as a first language.

“The Attorney General, for ideological reasons, wanted to rule in favor of the Democrat legislators who favor dual language. So, she refused to comment on whether a dual language program without waivers violates the voter protected initiative,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

Horne doubled down by suggesting that this would result in a legal battle.

“This will obviously be resolved in the courts. Until that happens, the State Board will not withhold funds,” Horne added, saying that parents have the ability to sue schools and districts that allow “dual language without waivers.”

The state Board of Education affirmed that they wouldn’t make any changes currently, based on Mayes’s opinion.

“In accordance with this finding, the Arizona State Board of Education will not alter the state’s current approved Structured English Immersion models, including the 50-50 Dual Language Immersion Model,” the board said Monday. “Additionally, the Board will not take action against any school that is using the 50-50 Dual Immersion Model to instruct English language learners.”

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