Judges: Money for English needs mediation
Capitol Media Services

Dec. 11, 2007

By Howard Fischer

Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/215709

PHOENIX The federal judges weighing whether Arizona has to provide more money to teach English want state legislative leaders to try to reach an out-of-court deal with the parents who are suing them instead.

In a court order, the three judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the lawsuit first filed in 1992, "may be an appropriate case for mediation." But the chances of actually resolving the case short of a court order may be slim.

When the judges first suggested the idea at a hearing last week, only Tim Hogan, who represents the parents who filed the suit, gave his unconditional endorsement.

State schools chief Tom Horne, one of the defendants in the litigation, said Monday that he personally is willing. But Horne said his feelings are irrelevant.

"It's really up to the Legislature," he said. "They're the ones who have the money."

That money has been a sticking point.

Arizona now provides $365 a year for each of the 135,000 students classified as not being proficient in English. David Cantelme, the attorney for Republican legislative leaders, said that, coupled with the regular aid provided by the state for all students, is enough to meet the requirements in federal law to ensure all students have an opportunity to learn English.

But a federal judge in Tucson disagreed and ordered the state to come up with more an order legislative leaders have appealed.