For immediate release: December 20, 2023
Contact: [email protected]
2023 in review: Horne promotes school safety and tackles legal issues facing students and parents
Leveraging prior experience as Attorney General
PHOENIX – State schools chief Tom Horne, who also served as Attorney General from 2011 to 2015, used his considerable legal experience to protect the interests of Arizona students, parents and educators in 2023.
Horne said, “When I announced I was running to be superintendent, many friends told me I was going backwards since I had once been Attorney General. But I told them the state’s biggest problems are in education. This has manifested itself several times in 2023 as I have had to go to court to protect girls’ sports and the English language law. I’ve also made it a priority to make schools safe from attack and hired a highly experienced school safety director to spearhead that effort.”
In early 2023, Horne began implementation of the nearly $100 million school safety grant program that places armed police officers on school campuses. He urged schools to prioritize this, noting that any delay in implementing this goal would leave schools more vulnerable to a tragic catastrophe. The number of law enforcement officers in schools has nearly doubled.
Later in the year, Horne unveiled a new program that will make it possible for every available campus law enforcement officer position to be filled, despite ongoing shortages of officers in many communities. As a result, more positions in the already-funded School Safety Program will be filled with armed law enforcement officers with no new funding required.
Additionally, Horne recommended, and the State Board of Education approved, just over $45 million to pay for 566 counselors and social workers.
The safety of girls’ sports has also been a priority of Superintendent Horne in 2023.
In April, he warned that a proposed Biden administration change to Title IX, the federal law that creates a level playing field for women’s sports, would decimate the law.
A short time later, Horne was named a defendant as a lawsuit was filed challenging the state law that prohibits biological boys from playing on girls’ teams. Horne is the only remaining defendant in the case since the other named parties declined to defend the law.
The filing explains that the disruption and the unfairness caused to others by Plaintiffs insisting on unfairly competing against biological girls is undeniable. This would be devastating to girls who hope to excel but cannot because they are competing against biological boys and being deprived of scholarships.
This court action is ongoing.
Protecting the will of Arizona voters became the argument of another court matter as Horne responded to Attorney General Kris Mayes’ threat against the voter-protected English language law.
Horne argues that the initiative specifically states that ‘all children in Arizona public schools shall be taught English by being taught in English, and all children should be placed in English language classrooms.’ The voter-protected initiative is not subject to being overruled by anyone. Horne subsequently sued the Governor and Attorney General in a case that is proceeding through the courts.
In autumn, the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel became an issue in Arizona as student clubs at a Phoenix-area high school distributed antisemitic materials. Horne stands squarely with Israel and has urged district superintendents to remove organizations that foment hatred from campuses.