Law & Courts

Arizona State Didn’t Turn Over Confidential ELL Data

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 02, 2010 1 min read
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I’d like to offer a footnote to my coverage of the start of the evidentiary hearing here in Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday for the long-running court case concerning Arizona’s approach to educating ELLs. You can read my story about the hearing for the case, Horne v. Flores, which was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2009 and remanded to the U.S. District Court in Tucson in June of last year. Back here in the state, the case is known as Miriam Flores v. State of Arizona.

I’d like to follow up on what happened with subpoenas issued to two Arizona universities last month to turn over data in ELL studies that researchers had promised would remain confidential. I reported how some researchers were up in arms last month because the lawyer for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne had subpoenaed the names of schools, school districts, and individuals participating in studies conducted by two expert witnesses scheduled to testify in the hearing. The lawyer, Eric J. Bistrow, said he needed the information to evaluate the validity of the studies.

But U.S. District Court Judge Raner C. Collins then ruled that the two universities--the University of Arizona, Tucson, and Arizona State University, Tempe--had to only turn over the names of schools and school districts involved in the studies, not the names of individuals.

At the start of the hearing on Wednesday, Bistrow reported that the University of Arizona was cooperating in turning over the data requested by the court, though problems with redacting material in CDs had delayed the process.

Bistrow also reported to Judge Collins that Arizona State had decided not to turn over the information requested by the court and had thus withdrawn as an expert witness for the hearing the professor from that university who had conducted an ELL study for which data had been subpoenaed.

That’s my footnote, that Arizona State decided to withdraw a witness rather than break a promise of confidentiality to schools and districts that participated in a study.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.