Tom Horne gives update on Empower hotline that lets parents notify Dept. of Education

In a news conference he called for on June 8, Arizona Superintendent Tom Horne gave media members a few examples of situations that he says were brought to his offices' attention due to this hotline established earlier this year.

"This gives parents a way to communicate if they are upset about something," Horne said. "We established the hotline, which we called the Empower Hotline, so that parents could have a way to communicate with us."

Those include an emailed spreadsheet from Catalina Foothills, listing students' preferred pronouns and if it was OK to share with parents.

A representative with that district clarified that this email is over two years old and the list no longer exists.

Horne declined to say that these issues were under investigation, but rather, his office was in "discussion" with these school districts. 

Horne's office admits the vast majority of calls, at least an estimated 30,000, have been prank calls.

When asked about how many legitimate complaints the hotline has received, here's how he answered:

Lauren Clark: "Do you have an exact number?"

Horne: "No, I don't have a number. I'm sorry."

Lauren Clark: "And why not?"

Horne: *doesn't answer*

FOX 10 is still waiting to hear back from the Mesa School District on these allegations. A representative from Chandler says they are looking into this.

I also asked Horne and members of his staff if there is a process for determining what constitutes a legitimate complaint. They told me only one person mans the hotline, but I was not able to get an answer if there was a specific policy, guideline, or procedure.

However, Horne did say that if there was a complaint about teachers teaching religion or right-leaning ideologies, that would also qualify as a legitimate complaint.