The Arizona Constitution requires the Legislature to enact laws that provide for the education and care of pupils who are hearing and vision impaired (Article XI, Section 1). The Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind was created in 1929 (Laws 1929, Chapter 93). Statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §§15-1301 et seq.
The Arizona K-12 public education system consists of a number of agencies, established by the Arizona Constitution and state law. ASDB provides a variety of services for children and youth (up to the age of 22) who have a vision or hearing loss. School age children attend schools located in either Phoenix or Tucson, or in their home district. Phoenix Day School, established in 1967, serves students from age 5 to 22. The Tucson campus includes boarding facilities, an evaluation center and the ASDB administrative headquarters. ASDB also provides educational and support services in local schools via regional cooperatives, which have been established in five areas of the state.
ASDB is governed by a ten-member board of directors, consisting of the Governor (ex-officio), the Superintendent of Public Instruction, a member of the Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing, a member of the Governor’s Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment, and six additional members appointed by the Governor. The board appoints the superintendent of ASDB, who serves as the school’s executive officer.
ASDB is a participant in the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) which provides services to children who have sensory impairments. Four other state agencies participate as well: Arizona Department of Economic Security, Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and the Arizona Department of Education. (Master list of State Programs; 2015-2016, page 252).
The Constitution establishes requirements for a public school system that includes kindergarten, common schools, high schools, normal schools, industrial schools and universities.
Responsibility for the general conduct and supervision of the public school system is shared among the State Board of Education, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, county school superintendents, and other governing boards as provided by law. The Constitution also requires the Legislature to provide for the education and care of pupils who are hearing and vision impaired.
The Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB) was created by Laws 1929, Chapter 93. Prior to creation of the agency, services for vision and hearing impaired students were provided by the University of Arizona in Tucson, under the general direction of the Arizona Board of Regents. (See Revised Statutes of the Arizona Territory, 1901 §§3645 through 3648; the Revised Statutes of Arizona 1913 Civil Code, §§4494 through 4497; Revised Code Arizona 1928, §1152; and Arizona Code Annotated 1939, §§54-1501 through 54-1526.)
Laws 1929, Chapter 93 created the Arizona State School for the Deaf and the Blind in Tucson which succeeded to the responsibility previously held by the University of Arizona and the Board of Regents. The measure established a three-member board of directors and authorized the board to select a superintendent with the responsibility to hire assistants, clerks, teachers and employees necessary to manage the school. The Governor served as an ex-officio member and appointed the members of the board. The measure reserved 100,000 acres of land for the benefit of the school; and outlined criteria for admission and records.
Laws 1967, Chapter 117 established a branch elementary day school of ASDB in Phoenix and appropriated $100,000 for related expenses.
Laws 1987, Chapter 363 was an extensive measure which addressed education of handicapped children and included provisions related to ASDB. The measure required parents to pay for personal expenses, including clothing, glasses, hearing aids, medical and dental care and transportation and allowed the Board of Education to withhold state aid from ASDB in cases of noncompliance. It also established a joint legislative committee to examine issues regarding funding for ASDB; issues related to noncompliance; oversight by the Arizona Department of Education; and possible bonding authority as a source of capital funding for ASDB. The committee was required to issue a report with recommendations by November 1, 1987.
An Arizona Auditor General performance audit released in 1987 outlined several issues of concern, including local school district’s responsibilities regarding placement decisions at ASDB; approval of payment vouchers by the Arizona Department of Education before students are enrolled at ASDB; tuition requirements for non-resident students; admission for students with other handicapping conditions; diagnostic services at the local school district level; and inappropriate expenditures. The ASDB Board of Directors was required to submit a progress report by October 1, 1988 addressing improvements to the organizational atmosphere and problems identified by the Auditor General.
Laws 1988, Chapter 237 added a sixth appointive member to the ASDB Board of Directors. The measure also: required the Joint Legislative Study Committee to submit annual reports, beginning in December 1987 until 1990; required the ASDB Board of Directors to submit a progress report by October 1, 1988 regarding improvements to the organizational atmosphere and problems identified by the Arizona Auditor General; required an annual report on expenditures of monies received as donations; and modified admission requirements.
Laws 1990, Chapter 283 required ASDB to provide resources to school districts, state institutions and other approved educational programs regarding curriculum, assessments, equipment, and materials. The measure also addressed voucher funding for students who received services from a regional services cooperative.
In 1992, the Arizona Auditor General conducted a second performance audit. Although the 1992 report made several recommendations for improvement, the report also recognized the significant progress made by the school to address concerns raised in the 1987 audit.
Laws 1993, Chapter 204 changed the name of the school to Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind. The bill established an Enterprise Fund consisting of monies received for non-school events; modified terms of employment for the superintendent and staff; and reduced the minimum eligible age for students from six years to three years of age. The bill also spelled out the legislature’s intentions regarding continuation of the ASDB in order to promote and maintain educational opportunities for sensory impaired children that would “lead to an adult life of independence and self-sufficiency, a meaningful personal, family and community life and a useful productive occupational life.” The intent section also indicated the legislature wanted ASDB to implement the recommendations made by the Arizona Auditor General in 1992 and the “budget recommendation of the staff of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for fiscal year 1993-1994, including a recommended reduction in force limited to management and supervisory personnel and clerical and other staff that support management and supervisory personnel.”
Laws 2001, Second Special Session, Chapter 6 added the ASDB as a recipient of monies from the Classroom Site Fund, consisting of monies received from the Department of Education.
Laws 2005, Chapter 168 increased the number of members of the ASDB Board to ten.
Laws 2017, Chapter 63 removed specific qualifications for appointment to the position of ASDB superintendent outlined in statute and allowed the Board of Directors to determine those qualifications. The superintendent is also required to obtain a fingerprint clearance card. The measure also deletes the requirement for the Board to file a written report on reasons a probationary employee is discharged; decreases, from three years to one year, the preferred right of reappointment for certain employees; deletes the requirement for an officer who is required to live at the school to receive food supplies; and modifies certain payroll reporting requirements.
Laws 2018, Chapter 288 outlined conditions for ASDB teachers to receive the same salary increases as any other public schoolteachers in fiscal years that monies are appropriated to the Arizona Department of Education for salary increases. The measure provided a retroactive effective date of July 1, 2017 for the eligibility.
Laws 2019, Chapter 265 (Section 13) eliminated the limitation on use of the monies in the Enterprise Fund. The former provision had limited use of the monies to payment of costs associated with operating facilities for which the monies were received.
- Arizona Constitution, Article XI, Section 1
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§15-1301 et seq.
- Revised Statutes of the Arizona Territory, 1901 §§3645 through 3648
- Revised Statutes of Arizona 1913 Civil Code, §§4494 through 4497
- Revised Code Arizona 1928, §1152
- Arizona Code Annotated 1939, §§1501 through 1526.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1929, Chapter 93
- Laws 1967, Chapter 117
- Laws 1987, Chapter 363
- Laws 1988, Chapter 237
- Laws 1990, Chapter 283
- Laws 1993, Chapter 204
- Laws 2001, Second Special Session, Chapter 6
- Laws 2005, Chapter 168
- Laws 2017, Chapter 63
- Laws 2018, Chapter 288
- Laws 2019, Chapter 265
Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. Arizona Auditor General Performance Audit and Sunset Review. October 1987 (Report No. 87-10).
Arizona Auditor General Performance Audit. October 1992 (Report No. 92-4).
Arizona Auditor General Performance Audit and Sunset Review. September 2012 (Report No 12-05).
Master List of State Programs: 2015-2016.