Horne v. Flores dealt with the issue of whether or not a state (or other defendants) can be released from their obligations. Could the state of Arizona be allowed to ignore a court order to adequately fund its English Language Learner (ELL) programs as mandated by the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA)?
The Flores family says the failure to reform the system for English language learners in Arizona has not only hurt them, but has also left a generation of Spanish speaking children struggling in the public school system. To this day, 17 years after legal proceedings began, Arizona has not adequately funded their ELL programs, which means many children continue to be denied the education to which they are entitled. When the Flores family and others went back to court asking that the state finally fund the programs, political leaders in the state asked the court to relieve them of responsibility. When the lower courts said that the state of Arizona needed to comply with the law, these elected officials took their argument to the Supreme Court.
In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to send the case back to the appeals court, with instructions to consider whether Arizona has complied with civil-rights law by improving both English-learner programs and K-12 education overall. Currently, there are 143,000 English Language Learners in the Arizona school system whose futures remain at stake.