Flores v. Huppenthal

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Standing
  • Date Filed: 06-15-2015
  • Case #: 13-15805
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge M. Smith, Jr. for the Court; Circuit Judges Wallace and Friedland; Concurrence by Friedland
  • Full Text Opinion

A plaintiff does not have standing to bring a statewide claim for violations of the Equal Education Opportunities Act when they only have evidence of violations occurring in their school district.

In 1992, Plaintiffs (“Flores Plaintiffs”), a class action group representing all limited English proficient children and at-risk minorities enrolled in the Nogales Unified School District, filed suit against the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Arizona, the Speakers for the Arizona House and Senate, the State Board of Education, the President of the Arizona Senate, and the State of Arizona (“State Defendants”) for allegedly violating the Equal Education Opportunities Act (“EEOA”) due to insufficient funding of English Language Learners (“EEL”). After the passing of federal and state statutes, the Arizona Legislature intervened in the lawsuit and filed a Rule 60(b)(5) motion to seek relief from the original judgment because of the passage of House Bill 2064, which increased funding for EEL programs and established a task force to develop and adopt different English immersion plans. The district court denied the motion. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit vacated the order and remanded the case. The district court again dismissed the motion, which was then upheld by the panel. The Arizona Supreme Court reversed and remanded. Finally, the district court then granted State Defendant’s motion, holding that Arizona’s implementation of new methodology, several managerial and structural changes within the Nogales district, increased funding, and Congress’ passage of the No Child Left Behind Act significantly changed the circumstances, making relief appropriate under Rule 60(b)(5). The panel upheld the decision, holding that the district court acted in accordance with the Supreme Court’s direction and did not abuse its discretion. Additionally, panel affirmed, that the Flores Plaintiffs did not have standing to bring a statewide claim, because they failed to prove that the alleged injury occurring in Nogales School District was occurring in other districts in the state. AFFIRMED.

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