Hotline in Arizona uncovers critical race theory being offered in schools, officials say

Education Superintendent Tom Horne says officials found 'enough CRT in our schools to constitute a problem."

Published: June 9, 2023 11:11pm

(The Center Square) -

Since Department of Education Superintendent Tom Horne introduced the Empower School Hotline in March, the department has received calls and emails reporting critical race theory in Arizona schools.

The Department of Education said Thursday that parents had called the hotline with evidence that schools have offered students content regarding gender issues forbidden under state law. Examples include keeping pronoun changes within the classroom, or providing emancipation paperwork to all students in a Gay-Straight Alliance club meeting.

"Despite those in ideological groups and some in the media that propagate the urban myth that CRT is not a part of the school system, we have evidence from the empower hotline, that there is enough CRT in our schools to constitute a problem, though it is obviously not universal," Horne said. "We also have evidence that schools have put systems in place to hide or attempt to hide critical personal information from parents about their child. This is in direct violation of Arizona law."

The hotline was created after the passage of ARS 1-602. The legislation states that all parental rights are exclusively reserved to a parent of a minor without government obstruction. Any coercion by a government employee of a minor to withhold information from the child's parent is grounds for discipline or dismissal.

Included in the release were pictures showing a poster from Mesa Public Schools describing how racial minorities are vulnerable under a "system of white supremacy."

"Mesa is our largest district," Horne said. "A teacher reported through the hotline that the Mesa school district has a training program for teachers that clearly states that certain Americans are 'living under a system of white supremacy.' That is a divisive and bigoted statement that has no place in education. To its credit, Mesa is in discussion with the department about this."

Another included a spreadsheet of unnamed children from Catalina Foothills that appears to allow faculty to use preferred gender pronouns with the option of not notifying the child's parent.

Any constituent may call the Empower Hotline at (602) 771-3500, or email at When the line was announced, some encouraged prank calls and spam emails. Horne said the number of malicious calls numbered in the thousands.

"(Thirty thousand) crank calls and emails do not intimidate us or keep us from doing our job," he said.

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