by David Safier
A few hours ago, I posted about a letter from Tom Horne to administrators and school board members that sounded both overly harsh and threatening to my ears.
Now I'm wondering if it may be deceptive as well. Just wondering, mind you. I'm not a lawyer or a legislator, so I'm only stating my opinion as a careful reader.
To recap: Horne's letter says that all districts must follow the new ELL Structured English Immersion model rules to the letter. No exceptions. No excuses like, "You didn't give me any money to implement your model." Districts were given a bit of leeway during the 2008-2009 school year, but no more.
Then the letter uses exact wording from state law, A.R.S. 15-754 to issue a not-so-subtle threat: mess with my rules, and if a parent sues, you've got to pay the damages. Here is the excerpt from 15-754.
I went back and read 15-752 and 15-753, which 15-754 refers back to. Neither of them has language that lays out Horne's dictates about 4 hours of ELL instruction. That's in HB2064 -- or to be more precise, in the decisions of the task force set up by HB2064 to establish guidelines for teaching ELL in Arizona.
Here is 17-752, in full.
There are no specifics about how the sheltered English immersion is to be administered in the classroom -- nothing about length of the classes, nothing about the materials taught or the methods used -- other than it must be in English and go on for about a year.
17-753 is about exceptions to 17-752, so it doesn't have more detailed requirements.
So let's look back. Horne is saying to districts, you'd better do exactly what the task force set up by HB2064 tells you to do. But then he says, if you don't, you could have 15-764 problems with parents suing and you having to pay damages. But the way I read 15-764, so long as the district is teaching sheltered English immersion classes as specified in 17-752, it's doing what it is legally required to do by 15-764, regardless of whether it follows the specific guidelines set up by Horne's task force.
I know this is mind-numbingly picky, and I may be totally wrong, but if Horne is conflating two pieces of legislation incorrectly to make his point, he's not only threatening administrators and board members with possible suits, but he's lying about misstating what parents can sue for.