Phoenix – Today, January Contreras, an experienced prosecutor and candidate for Arizona Attorney General, released her priorities for K-12 public education. Her plan includes a commitment to increasing school safety, standing up for Arizona's constitutional obligation to fund public schools, and strengthening accountability and transparency for all school officials, including charter school owners, in Arizona.
January Contreras, an experienced criminal prosecutor and a product of Arizona public schools, said "No parent should have to worry about the safety of their child in school. I'll work with law enforcement and local schools to prioritize school safety." Regarding our state constitution, she added, "We have a constitutional obligation to support our children's schools. As Attorney General, I will be a champion for our constitutional mandate to fund public education, and for making sure that each of those dollars is spent on students not misused by school owners or administrators.”
August 03, 2018
As a product of Arizona's public schools from kindergarten through law school, I know that nothing is as vital to the future of our children and state as the opportunity to receive a quality education in a safe school.
The grassroots Save Our Schools campaign to stop widespread use of public funds for private school vouchers, and the monumental Red for Ed movement gave a voice to educators, parents, and concerned citizens across Arizona to stand up for public education. As a former prosecutor, advisor to Governor Napolitano, and non-profit CEO, I have a record of fighting for Arizona families. Hardly a week goes by when I am not asked what the Attorney General’s role should be in K-12 education. Today, I am sharing with you my education priorities as our next Attorney General.
I look forward to working with communities across Arizona to keep our students safe and in school, to uphold our constitutional obligation to public education, and to ensure that not a single dollar of public education funds is used to improperly line the pockets of school owners or administrators.
Prioritizing K-12 Public Education in the Attorney General’s Office
Lead Collaboration Statewide to Make Our Schools Safer
Lead efforts with local law enforcement and school leaders in cities, towns and tribal communities for safe schools. Develop regional task forces and a statewide effort to identify and share best practices for school safety plans and training to prevent, prepare for, and respond to school shootings. Nothing matters as much as the safety of our children. We have a shared community responsibility as parents and community members, and as Attorney General I will fulfill my obligation to help lead these efforts.
Support school efforts to prevent bullying and cyber-bullying. Be a part of building a movement to prevent bullying and cyberbullying in our schools. Too often we see children in pain because they've been targeted and attacked in physical and non-physical ways. On the internet, these actions can increasingly happen out of the sight of adults. I am committed to collaborating with communities across Arizona to prevent these harms in our schools.
Champion Arizona’s Constitution and its Commitment to Public Education
Defend our constitution. Issue formal opinions and advice consistent with Arizona’s constitutional mandate to properly fund and maintain public schools. Our founders were clear that our state legislature has a constitutional obligation to public education. As Attorney General, I will champion this law.
Stop using taxpayer funds to defend private school voucher proponents. Remove our state from the litigation that Arizona’s current Attorney General is leading to defend secrecy for donors of Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP). AFP has been identified as one of the leading proponents of private school vouchers in Arizona.
Strengthen Accountability for Use of Public Education Funds
Implement and enforce stronger safeguards against abuse of public education funds. Promptly investigate substantiated claims of misuse of public education funds for potential litigation and prosecution, and hire forensic accountants to increase ability to hold school owners and administrators accountable. Public education monies should be about the enrichment of our children, not the pockets of school owners and administrators. In addition, pursue a legislative agenda that demands greater transparency and accountability for all schools, including charter schools, that receive public funding to prevent self-dealing and conflicts of interest.
Collaborate with the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools to enhance training and reporting of potential fraud and abuse of public education funds. Work with the Board to better train staff to identify potential fraud and abuse, and agree to a reporting protocol so that cases of fraud and misuse of funds are reported to the Office of the Attorney General early so that the financial toll can be prevented or stopped as soon as possible.
Ensure that no student is unlawfully denied access to K-12 education
Protect the legal rights of children to attend school. Provide an online resource that clearly states the legal rights children have to obtain an education without discrimination based on physical or learning disability, immigration status, homeless status, language barriers, race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion. This tool will serve as a resource to families, students, educators, and schools. Provide training based on current federal and state law to prevent discrimination, and investigate substantiated claims of violations of such laws.