Judge refuses to delay English-learner trial
Associated Press
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
1992 lawsuit.

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 scheduled.

Collins imposed fines that reached $21 million against the state last year before the Legislature approved a law to overhaul English Language Learning programs.

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.