A federal judge refused Monday to halt contempt proceedings while attorneys for state lawmakers appeal his ruling that they are not adequately funding programs to teach English.
The ruling by Judge Raner Collins technically means the state is now in contempt of his order earlier this year to adopt a new plan by the end of the legislative session. Lawmakers adjourned Wednesday without acting.
Tim Hogan, attorney for the parents who have successfully sued, said he won’t ask Collins to begin levying fines — at least not yet.
Hogan said he will wait until the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers a similar request by legislators to block any fines while they appeal Collins’ original order. The appellate judges have not said when they will act.
But Hogan said if the appellate judges reach the same conclusion as Collins — that a stay is not appropriate — then he will ask the judge to impose financial sanctions for ignoring the court order. And Hogan said he might even seek penalties personally against Senate President Tim Bee and House Speaker Jim Weiers for refusing to even consider legislation this session.
Gov. Janet Napolitano, who had unsuccessfully urged lawmakers to adopt a new funding plan before the deadline, has not yet decided whether to call them back into special session. Gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L’Ecuyer said that decision may wait until the 9th Circuit decides whether to stay the appellate proceedings.
Possible penalties aside, Hogan said each delay means more students in school who, from his perspective, are not getting a proper education.
“We keep losing these kids and we’re going to lose more of them the longer we delay this,” he said. Hogan said they are going to drop out or fail the AIMS test — administered only in English — now required to get a diploma.
Barrett Marson, a spokesman for Weiers, said the speaker is not concerned about personal fines. He said Weiers believes the appellate judges eventually will conclude that Collins was wrong in the first place by ruling in March that the state is not complying with federal laws that require all children to have an adequate opportunity to learn English.