Complaints of ‘inappropriate lessons’ reported to Arizona Empower Hotline being investigated
Mar 17, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 7:08 am
PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Education is investigating about half a dozen complaints after launching a hotline for parents to report lessons they disapprove of being taught in school.
“I think as time goes on, there will be a lot more,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “But we’re just starting, and it’s not widely known yet that we have this hotline.”
Horne’s office launched the Empower Hotline on March 7 so parents can report lessons they believe fall under the definition of “critical race theory,” with the focus on race or ethnicity, rather than individuals and merit.
Parents can also file complaints about materials being taught in Arizona classrooms that promote gender ideology, social emotional learning and inappropriate sexual conduct.
As of Thursday, ADE has received about 2,000 emails and 600 calls and voicemails.
Horne said one of the calls to the hotline involved possible sexual abuse and has been turned over to police.
“The majority at this point are prank calls,” he said. “But we’re not going to be dissuaded by that. We’re just going to ignore them.”
Horne added his office is screening the reports coming in and dismissing those “that appear to lack credibility.”
“If they appear to have credibility, we want to be sure they’re credible by investigating them,” he said. “I know false accusations can be made, and we don’t want to perpetuate any false accusations.”
Critics on social media have encouraged others to flood the hotline with praise for teachers.
On Wednesday, a group of teachers and supporters marched from the State Capitol to Horne’s office, holding signs that read “Stop the Attacks” and “Stand with Educators.”
The Arizona Education Association tweeted that they marched to tell Horne “to take down his ‘hotline’ and stop the constant attacks and political games.”