English-Language Learners

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Arizona in Decades-Old ELL Case

By Corey Mitchell — June 16, 2015 1 min read
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A federal appeals court has unanimously ruled that Arizona’s classes for English-language learners are legally adequate.

Upholding a decision by a lower court, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the state on Monday in Flores v. Arizona, a 23-year-old lawsuit challenging Arizona’s requirement that ELLs spend more than half their school day learning English.

As the Associated Press reports, the lead plaintiff, Miriam Flores, joined the lawsuit on behalf of her daughter after deciding the school programs offered for ELLs in the heavily Hispanic city of Nogales were “underfunded and inadequate.”

In the latest ruling, the judges wrote that Arizona’s plan, which includes four hours a day of English classes, is adequate.

The judges wrote that “the record does not contain enough years of ELL performance data after the implementation of the four-hour model to be certain of the model’s effectiveness at teaching English or of its long-term impact on overall academic success.”

Opponents argued that the program for language-learners illegally segregates students and limits their academic options in violation of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act. The judges did not agree.

Here is a link to the ruling and opinions, provided by Arizona Public Media.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the plaintiff’s attorney acknowledged that his options to pursue the case further are limited but the appeals court judges wrote that “if evidence of an EEOA violation emerges in the future, a new lawsuit could of course be brought.”

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